Health And Wellness

4 Unsexy Habits That Demolish Your Brainpower

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Brainpower is the currency of the future.

Machines and AI are automating more and more jobs. But jobs that need human brainpower cannot be automated so easily. Robots could displace over 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030. The number of industrial robot jobs increases by 14% each year.

More than 25% of jobs in the US are experiencing high levels of disruption due to automation.

That means jobs at the bottom rung of the ladder are vanishing. In place of that, new jobs are being created at the top rung of the ladder.

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Jobs that need you to think better. Jobs that need you to exercise not your body but your brainpower.

Hence, it’s more important than ever to start taking care of your cognitive abilities. To that end, you need to kill these 4 habits as soon as possible.

Here are 4 unsexy habits that demolish your brainpower:

1. Looking for solutions directly

When I was a pre-med student, my teacher insisted on one super-important habit.

“When practicing questions, don’t give up in a minute and look for the solution at the end of the book. Spend more time on a question. Think it through. Try different formulas. Different perspectives. Only when you’ve completely drained your cognitive ability, look for the solution.”

She’d say this was the difference between an average student and someone getting a national rank.

And boy, was she right.

And it makes sense. Looking for a solution is easy. It’s easy to understand the principle of solution as well. And hence, looking for a solution does not provide any cognitive load — hence, no cognitive growth.

But reaching the solution is difficult — it makes you think. It exercises your brain, and hence, it sharpens the mind of a student — who then ends up scoring well on the final test.

This translates to real life as well.

When you encounter problems in life that are not urgent, take some time to think. Don’t run to your boss immediately, asking how to solve the problem. Don’t Google it immediately.

Think for yourself. The solutions you discover will make you smarter permanently. And this habit will make you a much better thinker than the people who just look for solutions instead of figuring them out themselves.

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2. Engaging in gossip.

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

— Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m sure you’ve heard this quote before.

But let me explain why exactly this quote is so powerful. Most people spend most of their time talking about events and people. This equals gossip. However, here’s the thing — gossip dies.

For instance, gossip about the hot new couple in your college spreads like wildfire for a few days. It starts big. But slowly, it dies. And in a few weeks, it’s old news for most people. That means no one will talk about it much.

This means when you gossip, you're wasting your brainpower on stuff that isn’t even relevant a few weeks from now. A few weeks. That’s it. Such a terrible waste.

On the other hand, ideas can be immortal. Sure, they can start small. But slowly, they attract other big ideas and a truckload of small ideas such that it eventually grows to become something so great you cannot even comprehend.

Take Twitter, for instance. It must have started as a small idea in Ev William’s mind. “Let’s create a platform to share short-form writing.” Then, he must have collaborated with a few other founders to solidify and strengthen the idea. And slowly, they hired a team and got the platform up and running. People started joining. And today, it’s a hub for people sharing millions of ideas daily.

Someone was ready to buy it for $44,000,000,000. You know who. There are 436,000,000 monthly active Twitter users worldwide. Around 200 billion tweets are sent out per year.

See how a little idea grew into something grand? That’s the power of ideas.

So, quit gossiping. Start ideating.

RELATED: 4 Bad Micro-Habits That Drain Your Cognitive Battery

3. Being a skeptic.

Some people have this habit of saying a psychological “no” to every new thing that comes their way. They say no to new people, new ideas, new opportunities, and new places.

And this response is rooted in evolution. Skepticism offered a survival advantage in our hunter-gatherer days. If you were a little skeptical about something unfamiliar, it was good because that thing could kill you.

But those days are long gone.

Today, you don’t want just to survive. You want to thrive.

When you want to survive, you must let go of your skepticism and start being open to new things. Why?

Because familiar things induce familiar thought processes, and new things induce newer thought processes.

Making it in the “Brainpower-thirsty” future will need you to be able to think in new ways. However, you’ll never learn to think in new ways if you keep rejecting new things.

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4. Filling gaps with distraction

A tough question for you: do you even engage in some healthy thinking anymore?

I don’t think most of us do. Here’s why.

We have our stuff to do all day. We work. Then we have to do the chores. We spend time with our families. And that’s all well and good. But in the gaps between these things — what do we do?

We fill these gaps with distractions because we have digital distractions that cater to every length of a gap you’ll ever have.

If you take a 10-minute break from making sales calls, you mindlessly scroll your Insta feed. If you have 50 minutes before you’re supposed to leave for the gym, you can watch the new episode of “House of Dragon.” If you have a couple of hours before you’re supposed to leave for dinner with your family, why not watch “A Few Good Men” for the millionth time?

Think about it! We don’t think anymore.

And there’s a reason for this: thinking doesn’t feel productive. It’s you, sitting with no tangible physical activity. But thinking is one of the key habits you want to inculcate if you want to thrive today and in the future. That’s why Bill Gates is known to take not just think hours or days, but think weeks.

Here are three ways to include more healthy thinking in your life.

  • Choose a problem to be working on. For instance, these days, I’m trying to figure out how to manage my time best.

  • Schedule it. When you have gaps in your day, schedule some time to think. If you don’t, you’re going to end up on Netflix.

  • Give it a physical extension. Thinking is complex because you’re not doing anything physical. Hence, when you give it a physical extension, thinking becomes easier. I simply open a document, type the name of the problem I’m working on at the top — and start noting down my thoughts.

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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.