Monday,20 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1434, (14 - 20 March 2019)
Monday,20 May, 2019
Issue 1434, (14 - 20 March 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Are you using your mind?

The mind of man is capable of anything and yet how often it will fall into a “pimpled, ill-conditioned state”, from mere excess of comfort. How often do we exercise our bodies to remain fit and tuned, yet we neglect the mind. “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Are you capable of being a genius? Almost any one of us can be. But, like Mr World, it needs maintenance, sustenance, hard work and dedication. We often wonder why the moguls, the geniuses, the Steve Jobs of the world do it? That is how. They are visionaries who see the world in a deeper, more aesthetic level. Jobs cried incessantly when he was frustrated and did not get his way, or when he succeeded and experienced purity of spirit.

You do not have such a big brain, you say, but you do. It has little to do with the size of the brain as some have claimed. Einstein had a smaller brain than the average man. His brain weighed 1,230 grammes while most weigh 1,400 grammes. His genius depended on other aspects, on the use of his mind.

It is a myth that bigger brains mean a bigger mind. Unfortunately, brain scientists have consistently failed to formulate a hard scientific theory about the use of the brain. Studies have shown a weak correlation between brain size and intelligence. Anatole France had one of the tiniest brains while Jonathan Swift had a huge brain at the top end of all brains measured. Is one less valued than the other?

Brains are complicated. Scientists are still working out what is it about the brain that correlates with intelligence quotient (IQ), and what kind of process goes on.

We must pause to distinguish the difference between the brain and the mind. The brain is the physical organ that is visible and tangible in the body. It is associated with the mind and consciousness, but the mind is not confined to the brain, it is the invisible translucent world of thought, feeling, attitude, belief and imagination. It has non-material, spiritual dimensions that include consequences and possibility — an eternal attribute which can make a genius out of you.

The mind has a billion neurons (specialised cells transmitting nerve impulses), each neuron has 1,000 connections to other neurons amounting to more than a billion connections. A working memory and intense attention work closely together, yet according to Paul Roder of North Western University, the human brain has the capacity to retain no more than seven numbers. This is why most telephone numbers do not exceed seven.

Neurons may die with the years but we have the ability to replace them. Learning new skills creates neural pathways that make the brain work faster. We can actually improve our potential at any age.

Rewire your brain by discipline, determination and concentration. Create a little gym for your brain. Learn to play a musical instrument. That strengthens the corpus calossum that links the hemispheres of the brain, creating new connections. On examining Einstein’s brain, they found that his outstanding ability was the corpus calossum which helps with executive skills, memory, solving overall brain functions, regardless of age.

Read. Read anything. Reading reduces stress and increases all three types of intelligence — crystallised, fluid and emotional. It helps with problem solving, detecting patterns, accurately interpreting and responding to other people’s feelings. This is emotional intelligence.

Cumulative learning is keeping track of worthy bits of knowledge; go through old books, observe, listen or keep a small journal to refresh your memory.
You have the power to rewire your brain for your own joy.

Solve puzzles, riddles; play board games, video games, cards, etc to increase your neuroplasticity.

When nerve cells respond in new ways, it increases neuroplasticity which allows us more ability to see things from different perspectives.

Research has shown that the brain is very plastic, which means it does not stop adapting and transforming.

It takes persistence, hard work and determination, but it is certainly possible to increase your mental faculties — do it.

While no single feature explains the brain’s exceptional ability, some features do:

Flexibility: High adaptability, showing what can be done, regardless of complications or restrictions.

Open-mindedness: The will to accept others’ views, open yourself to solutions.

Self-control: Often hard to practise but there is a link between self-control and intelligence.

Clarity: Clarify your goals plainly and follow through till you reach them.

Sense of humour: Professional comedians scored higher than average.

Above all, be curious. Einstein admits that he had an insatiable curiosity: “I have a special talent”, he wrote. “I am only passionately curious, fascinated by things other take for granted.”

Brains are rarely the reason for success: in business, politics, etc and we can increase our understanding, our learning and our intelligence.

We are all capable of being geniuses, if we put our mind to it. We all have tremendous potential left untapped except for the few who stand in the spotlight. But who wants to be a genius if it takes away from other fields?

Science is out there hard at work. How will we evolve? How will genetic knowledge increase our intelligence? Is today’s Man tomorrow’s Superman? Shall we lose our humanity in the process?

Most sacred of all forms of intelligence lies in the mind of he who has learned how to be happy.
That is intelligence.

“What is Matter? Never mind. What is Mind? No matter.”
 (Punch, 1855)

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