Headspace is a delightful tool for beginning or maintaining a daily practice of meditation. Particularly fun and insightful are the animations. Be sure to check out the Day 5 one on Effort and the Day 7 one on Blue Skies. You get the first10 days for free so try it out!
“If you change how you think about it, its impact on what you feel and do changes,” Mr. Mischel writes.
He explains that there are two warring parts of the brain: a hot part demanding immediate gratification (the limbic system), and a cool, goal-oriented part (the prefrontal cortex). The secret of self-control, he says, is to train the prefrontal cortex to kick in first.
To do this, use specific if-then plans, like “If it’s before noon, I won’t check email” or “If I feel angry, I will count backward from 10.” Done repeatedly, this buys a few seconds to at least consider your options. The point isn’t to be robotic and never eat chocolate mousse again. It’s to summon self-control when you want it, and be able to carry out long-term plans.
This book, by Peter Brown, presents current research in cognitive science and provides worthwhile insights and strategies for better memorization and learning. Some examples:
1. The tried and true “reread and highlight” method to try and absorb content works, but even better is utilizing information retrieval because retrieving helps to build stronger connections in the brain that will better lock the information into memory. The more effortful the retrieval the stronger the benefit, (quiz rather than reread).
2. There is no evidence that shows that how one receives information substantially affects how well it is learned; e.g., oral or written. A review of the literature indicates that what is more important is whether you are an “example learner” or a “rule learner.” Those that see and practice a math problem and are able to see the rules behind the example and memorize the rule, rather than the example, will tend to learn better.
3. Mindset is a significant factor affecting how well one learns. Those who learn for performance (so they can prove how good they are) tend to tackle new information with trepidation whereas those who learn for mastery aspire to acquire new skills more openly and without regard to whether they will fail before mastering; and, therefore, learn better.
4. Effort and praising effort is huge in promoting learning. “Although the brain is not a muscle that gets stronger with exercise, (the) neural pathways that make up a body of learning do get stronger when the memory is retrieved and the learning is practiced.” When learning is harder, it’s stronger and lasts longer.