The Unsexy Way The Smartest People Protect Their Brainpower

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smart woman in library

Brainpower is an incredibly rare resource 

And the thing about rare resources is that they risk being stolen. Hence, their protection is of the utmost importance.

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Hence, to shield their brainpower, truly smart people swear by some key principles. In this article, I want to discuss those principles. Let’s dive in.

Here are 5 ways the smartest people protect their brain power:

1. They attack the dawn

Many truly smart and creative people prefer — obsessively so — doing their most important work in the mornings. And the reason isn’t inapparent. It’s simply because it’s in the mornings that their brains are able to work at their full capacity.

They know that as the day progresses, the demands of life will start pressing on — and their cognitive energy will start draining. Drop by drop. But surely.

They know that as the day progresses, they’ll start to lose control over their actions as more urgent tasks reveal themselves.

They know that as the day progresses, the actualities of life will start chipping away at their drive.

But at dawn (granted it’s followed by a well-rested night), everything is abundant. Plenty of drive within. Complete control of their time. 100% charged cognitive battery.

And hence, smart people prefer doing their most cognitively challenging tasks by attacking the dawn. This way, they’re able to give their all to the project at hand.

2. They lift heavy cognitive weights

Brainpower is similar to muscle power.

Use it. Or lose it.

Most people aren’t using their brainpower enough. They’re not seeking good problems to solve. And if life presents them with problems, they pass them on. For example — if they encounter a problem while working in their office, they run to their boss for the solution. They don’t try to figure it out themselves.

And hence, they lose it. Similar to the way a muscle atrophies in a patient unable to walk.

Truly smart people on the other hand get high on problems. They don’t pass on the problems they face. They know how to spot hidden problems. They seek problems. And then, they think of solutions.

For example, I’ve recently been super fascinated by what Satoshi Nakamoto tried to achieve when he created Bitcoin. He believed that centralized currency systems had problems. And then, came up with a super-complex solution: a decentralized digital currency like Bitcoin.

Now, people may shower their opinions that Bitcoin is not effective. Or that it’s dying. However, they’re missing the point. They need to realize that Bitcoin is a pivot in our understanding of money. At worst, it’s a stepping stone to an even better digital currency. And at best, it’s a successful project in its incubation.

Either way, no one can say that Satoshi Nakamoto is stupid. It’s apparent that he’s smart. And it’s because he has lifted the heaviest of cognitive weights.

To protect and stimulate your brainpower to grow: solve problems. The bigger they are, the better.

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3. They own less stuff

Everything you own takes up space in your cognitive mind.

Consider this.

Let’s say you buy lots and lots of expensive clothes and it costs you money. Now, that’s not where the story ends. You also have to maintain what you bought. You have to store these clothes properly. You have to get them cleaned and washed after use. You have to get them ironed so that they can be worn again. And then, you have to decide every day what you’re going to wear.

Yes, you can automate some of these activities. But they still take up space in your conscious mind — even if it’s small. And it’s not just clothes. It’s everything. Everything that you buy. They all need to be maintained. And the number of cognitive resources “stuff” starts to demand from you increases so much — that not much energy is left for crucial thinking.

That’s why the smartest people are minimalists. Consider Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, etc. who wear the same clothes every day. Steve Jobs was also known for having almost no furniture in his home.

Then what do smart people fill their life with — you might be wondering? And the answer is ideas.

They read a lot. They learn about the world a lot. And here’s the wonderful thing about ideas. They don’t take up space in your conscious mind. When you consume an idea, it sinks into your subconscious. Incubates. And reveals itself ONLY when it’s needed.

Hence, to protect your brainpower, stop buying more things. Instead, learn. Fill your mind. Not your house.

4. They avoid food that causes brain fog

Have you ever felt extremely drowsy and troubled with heavy eyes after a disgustingly delicious fatty meal? Who hasn’t?

Truly smart people are aware of how cognitively amped up they are at all times. They notice that after consuming certain foods and beverages, they feel like sh*t:

  • Meals with a lot of vegetable oils.
  • Red meat.
  • Heavily processed foods with artificial preservatives.
  • Beverages with too much sugar.
  • Alcohol.

And since they care more about their cognitive bandwidth than delicious food, they avoid these as much as possible. Instead, they eat complex carbs. Plants. Good fats. Etcetera.

If you want to protect your brainpower, you have to watch what you eat.

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5. They don’t overuse their dopamine

Dopamine is an incredibly powerful hormone.

It’s said to be the hormone responsible for your drive. It’s the hormone that makes you seek anything. If you have good dopamine release and reserves, you’ll be driven. If not, you’ll lack the drive to do anything worthwhile.

The latter is the case for the majority of these days. And the culprit is our devices.

There are many ways your phone and other devices suck at your dopamine. These release dopamine in your brain and collectively and chronically, deplete your reserves — consequently killing your drive.

  • Phone notifications.
  • YouTube reels.
  • Doomscrolling on social media.
  • The vivid colors of your displays.

Truly smart people avoid these. They have turned off most notifications. They avoid watching reels. They don’t doom scroll on social media. Some have even quit social media altogether.

If you want to protect your brainpower, protect your dopamine. It’s as simple as that.

A quick recap:

Brainpower is an essential resource that needs to be protected at all costs. Here are a few steps you can take to do so.

  • Do your most cognitively challenging work in the morning.
  • Solve problems. The more difficult they are, the more they’ll stimulate your brain.
  • Own less stuff. They will drain your brainpower.
  • Avoid consuming sh*tty food.
  • Don’t let your devices suck out your dopamine.

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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.