Brain Practices (Post IV)

brain2This is the last in the series of blog posts focused on enhancing the special strengths of the Boomer brain as discussed in Dr. Sandra Chapman’s book  “Make Your Brain Smarter.”

Your brain can be changed by how you use it, by how you activate it every day— no matter your age. Boomers can play a significant role in changing their brains. We should be actively thinking about new ways of doing things. All of the core brainpowers— strategic attention, integrated reasoning, and innovation require hard work.

I really like Dr. Chapman’s reference to Innovation as acting as an ‘entrepreneur of ideas’. She reminds us in her writing that innovation, creativity and imagination require practice just like staying proficient in a foreign language you may have learned earlier in your life.

Work, passion, and a sense of purpose are the best nourishment for healthy brain function and innovation. And quite remarkably, Dr. Chapman has found that Boomers showed significant gains in innovative thinking after only six hours of concentrated brain training.

Dr. Chapman advises us that Boomers can expand our extraordinary capacity for innovation by exercising the following brain practices:

    •  Brainpower of infinite
    •  Brainpower of unknown
    •  Brainpower of paradox

Brainpower of Infinite

“Innovative ideas are created out of pieces of seemingly random data, recombined in such a novel way that the whole that was comprised of the pieces does not even look the same. There are infinite possibilities of how information can be connected in new ways to innovate. There is not a single answer or only one way to do things. Challenge your innovative capacity by practicing the brainpower of infinite strategy.”

Plan to approach one task this week from a totally different perspective. It could be something as simple as:

  • Create novel and innovative topics in your email subject line.
  • Think of at least five new ways you can cut your monthly budget by 20 percent. All too often, we complain but do not break new ground by breaking old habits.
  • Think of family gatherings that fall flat with the same old discussions. Come up with either new places to meet or make a game out of a discussion you could have.

Brainpower of Paradox Innovation and Mental Flexibility

The brainpower of paradox is enhanced when one reflects on a completed task and perceives the holes, and then dynamically and flexibly rework and reinvent for a better product/ output. The mental flexibility required to reflect on, revisit, and seek better solutions engages the frontal lobe, optimizing learning, which leads to new insights and fresh ways of approaching outdated tasks. A few practice tasks could include:

  •  Reflect on a meeting that was essentially a time waster.Think about how you might have changed that.
  •  Rethink a project, presentation, or event that you think went well. Brainstorm at least five ways it could have gone even better and how it could be improved if you had another opportunity tomorrow.
  •  Each week, identify what you might think was your biggest mistake and see what you can now learn by looking back.

Brainpower of Unknown

The brainpower of unknown requires valuing curiosity and asking, What if?  A highly innovative person is never satisfied with the status quo (the known) and is always looking for ways to constantly improve, change, and grow ‘things’ or themselves.

Here are a few practice tasks she recommends we consider:

  • Volunteer to direct something you have never taken the lead on before. This will give you a new perspective and stretch your thinking.
  • When a new opportunity arises, consciously challenge yourself to think innovatively or in a different manner then you normally would.
  • When you are setting your key priorities for your day, note one thing each day that you want to revisit, rethink, and reinvent.

So if you are now convinced you want to read the book yourself, here’s the link that makes it easy for you to buy the book at Amazon. Make Your Brain Smarter: Increase Your Brain’s Creativity, Energy, and Focus


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