Harvey Mackay: Make New Year's resolution to exercise your mind
BY HARVEY MACKAY United Feature Syndicate
Sunday, December 30, 2012
12/30/12 at 5:43 AM
This time of year, we often contemplate New Year's resolutions. What's at the top of the list for many people? Exercising and getting your body in shape. A noble thought, to be sure, but I have an even better idea.
How about exercising your mind so you can get the most out of it?
Resolve to try something new to keep your brain challenged. Just as doing the same physical exercises over and over again works only a specific part of the body, doing the same mental work repeatedly tends to narrow your focus and limit your potential.
Clearing the clutter and cobwebs out of your mind is not complicated, but it does require some practice for those who are constantly on overdrive. And you all know who you are!
Beyond the oft-repeated advice to read a novel, take a walk, learn a new language and so on, there are plenty of other options that address long-term mind exercises.
A growing trend among business professionals is meditation. Meditation clears and relaxes your mind, which can have a significant impact on your physical health. And meditation doesn't require any special equipment or clothing, just an open mind and a quiet environment free of distractions.
Get comfortable and clear your mind. Be conscious of only your breathing. Don't direct your thoughts in any particular direction; let them drift freely. How long you meditate is up to you.
Back at work, learning and remembering new information can grow more difficult with every passing year. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of the knowledge game:
Focus on concentrating. Distractions are the bane of any learning attempt. If you're attending a seminar or training session, sit near the instructor and maintain eye contact.
Say it out loud. Read aloud the material you're trying to learn and repeat out loud the facts you want to retain. This way, your eyes and your ears are delivering information to your brain.
Tame frustration. If you're getting frustrated over material you're trying to learn, remind yourself that getting emotional will only hamper your ability to retain information. Step back and take a break.
There was once a man who wanted to gain power over his mind. He heard there was a monk in Tibet who could make this come true for him, so the man traveled through the Himalayas. When the man finally met the monk, the monk replied casually, "Yes, my friend, attaining supernatural powers is simple. For this you merely need a mantra. Just say, 'Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchami' three times - and whatever you do, do not think of monkeys."
This was going to be a cinch, the man thought. Then he sat down to try this new practice. But as he chanted the first words of the mantra, the first thought that came to his mind was "monkeys!" He tried chanting louder and imposing a more powerful order to not think of monkeys. Still, all he could think of was monkeys. In fact, he found that monkeys now roamed about his consciousness everywhere.
The monk, seeing the struggle taking place, smiled and said, "Whenever you try to force your mind to go in one direction, you can be very sure it will always go the other way."
Mackay's Moral: Nurturing and mastering your mind is anything but monkey business.
Original Print Headline: Resolve to exercise your mind
Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." To send him a question or comment, go to tulsaworld.com/mackayfeedback.