The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains

Brain5Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can all fol­low to main­tain, and improve, our vibrant brains.

1. Learn more about the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic under­stand­ing will serve you well to appre­ci­ate your brain’s beau­ty as a liv­ing and con­stant­ly-devel­op­ing dense for­est with bil­lions of neu­rons and synapses.

2. Take care of your nutri­tion. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but con­sumesgood brain food over 20% of the oxy­gen and nutri­ents we intake? As a gen­er­al rule, you don’t need expen­sive ultra-sophis­ti­cat­ed nutri­tion­al sup­ple­ments, just make sure you don’t stuff your­self with the “bad stuff.”

3. Remem­ber that the brain is part of the body. Things that exer­cise your body can also help sharp­en your brain: phys­i­cal exer­cise enhances neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, at any age!

4. Prac­tice pos­i­tive, action-ori­ent­ed thoughts until they become your default mind­set and you look for­ward to cre­at­ing some­thing beau­ti­ful every new day. Too much stress and anxiety–either induced by exter­nal events or by your own thoughts–actually kills neu­rons and pre­vent the cre­ation of new ones. physical exercise for brain health

5. Thrive on Learn­ing and Men­tal Chal­lenges. The point of hav­ing a brain is pre­cise­ly to learn and to adapt to chal­leng­ing new envi­ron­ments. Once new neu­rons appear in your brain, where they migrate and how long they sur­vive depends on how you use them. “Use It or Lose It” does not mean “do cross­word puz­zle num­ber 1,234,567”. It means, “chal­lenge your brain, and often, with nov­el activities”.

6. We are (as far as we know) the only self-direct­ed organ­isms in this plan­et. Aim high. Once you grad­u­ate from col­lege, keep learn­ing. Once you become too com­fort­able in one job, find a new one. The brain keeps devel­op­ing ALWAYS, reflect­ing what you do with it.

7. Explore, trav­el. Adapt­ing to new loca­tions forces you to pay more atten­tion to your envi­ron­ment. Make new deci­sions, use your brain.

8. Don’t Out­source Your Brain. Not to media per­son­al­i­ties, not to politi­cians, not to your smart neigh­bour… Make your own deci­sions, and mis­takes. That way, you are train­ing your brain, not your neighbour’s.

9. Devel­op and main­tain stim­u­lat­ing friend­ships. We are social ani­mals, and need social inter­ac­tion. Which, by the way, is why ‘Baby Ein­stein’ or all those edu­ca­tion­al apps have been shown not to be the panacea for chil­dren development.

10. Laugh. Often. Espe­cial­ly to cog­ni­tive­ly com­plex humor, full of twists and sur­pris­es. Bet­ter, try to become the next Jon Stewart.

Now, remem­ber that what counts is not read­ing this arti­cle –or any oth­er– but prac­tic­ing a bit every day until small steps snow­ball into unstop­pable, inter­nal­ized habits. “Cells that fire togeth­er wire togeth­er”… so, start work­ing on one of these 10 habits today. Revis­it the habit above that real­ly grabbed your atten­tion, and make a deci­sion to try some­thing dif­fer­ent right away.

SharpBrainsGuide_3D–> To learn more about what you can do, check out The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: How to Opti­mize Brain Health and Per­for­mance at Any Age.


  1. Jordan on August 19, 2008 at 8:01

    Per­son­al­ly, a good 60-min run is always the best way to refresh and sharp­en my mind. 

    How about doing any exer­cise that qui­ets and stills the mind?

    The great­est per­il face by mod­ern man is the dis­qui­et mind that seems to be rac­ing through­out the day, even into the night (which caus­es insom­nia). Slow­ing down the mind and even making
    it still is a great chal­lenge, when most peo­ple need to have some music to fill any brief moment of quiet­ness they have.

  2. Mike T Nelson on January 21, 2009 at 10:29

    Excel­lent tips! Many (not peo­ple here though), for­get that exer­cise is a HUGE com­po­nent and great to see it on your list!
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson

  3. spencer lord on February 23, 2009 at 9:34

    this is a real­ly superb arti­cle, and the top three are so right: Thoughts/Diet/Exercise. right on.

  4. Manguu on April 8, 2009 at 6:46

    @ jv: when you’re ful­ly charged and future for­ward, you’ll have bet­ter ideas and more ener­gy to tack­le those issues and reach out to peo­ple in need

  5. Harriet Diamond on April 23, 2009 at 2:58

    Great arti­cle. We should post it on our com­put­er for a dai­ly reminder. I don’t think any one of us wants to “lose it” 

    Thanks Alvaro.
    Har­ri­et Diamond

  6. Alvaro Fernandez on April 24, 2009 at 3:14

    Har­ri­et and every­one else: glad you enjoy it!

    My per­son­al favorite, of course, is:
    #8. Don’t Out­source Your Brain.

  7. Binaifer Karanjia on October 20, 2009 at 9:21

    Won­der­ful arti­cle and great for under­stand­ing in a sim­ple way, the core parts of the brain. Would like to add that many of the deep­er prac­tis­es of yoga med­i­ta­tiosn help to destress and regen­er­ate the brain. Spe­cif­ic prac­tis­es are Yoga Nidra and Aan­tar Mouna. Both pracis­es work in the deep­er recess­es f the mind and have shown many pos­i­tive changes in human personalities.

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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