In this article, I’m going to show you:
- How you can consistently live better and better days
- How you can set-up your days the night before in order to make success inevitable
- How to consistently make more progress each day than most people make in a month or year
- How to create the life you can only imagine
4 Things Your Brain Needs Daily To Thrive
Before diving into how to create an optimal day, it’s important to take a look at your brain, and what makes your brain happy. At the most basic level, your brain needs 4 things in order to thrive:
“When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food.”
— James Allen
The quality of food you put into your body matters. You become what you consume, literally.
The best foods for brain health include:
- Nuts and seeds — particularly almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
- Vegetables — particularly avocados, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets
- Leafy greens — particularly spinach, broccoli, celery, and kale
- Fish — particularly salmon, sardines, and tuna
- Berries — particularly blueberries, strawberries, and acai berries
- Spices — particularly cinnamon, sage, thyme, and turmeric
- Healthy fats — particularly coconut oil and olive oil
- Dark chocolate — one of the only foods shown to acutely boost mood, focus, and alertness, according to a University of Nottingham study
- Healthy grains — University of Toronto researchers recently determined that eating carbohydrate-rich foods like oatmeal is equivalent to a shot of glucose, a.k.a. blood sugar, injected into your brain
The worst foods for brain health include:
- Anything with artificial sugar — particularly fruit juices, soda, candy
- Anything that has artificial and white flour
- Most dairy
“Back in the day, the majority of exercise studies focused on the parts of the body from the neck down, like the heart and lungs. But now we are finding that we need to go north, to the brain, to show the true benefits of a physically active lifestyle on an individual.” — Ozioma Okonkwo, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
The amount of oxygen your brain gets determines how well it functions. Just because you breath air doesn’t mean your brain is getting the quantity and quality of oxygen it needs to thrive.
- The brain uses about three times as much oxygen as muscles in the body do
- Brain cells are very sensitive to decreases in oxygen levels and don’t survive or function well very long without it
Daily fitness is essential to brain health and having a body that can provide maximal oxygen to your brain. Specifically:
- One study found that daily fitness is good for memory and decreases chances of Alzheimer’s
- Okonkwo’s research has shown that people who exercise have greater brain volumein areas of the brain associated with reasoning and executive function. In an interview with TIME, he stated, “We’ve done a series of studiesshowing that increased aerobic capacity boosts brain structure, function and cognition,” he says, “Other people have found exercise can improve mood.”
Aerobic exercise, like running and swimming, appears to be best for brain health since these increase your heart rate, “which means the body pumps more blood to the brain,” says Okonkwo. But strength training, like weight lifting, may also bring benefits to the brain by increasing heart rate.
Your brain needs information to process in order to continually develop new connections. If the brain isn’t firing, it’s not wiring, and this ages it.
If you don’t use your brain, you lose it very quickly. Memory fades and reality becomes less clear and compelling.
The problem with most of the information people consume is that it is repetitive and low quality — like putting junk in your car, it doesn’t help your brain function well, but actually damages it long-term. For example, scanning Facebook or passively scanning articles like this one don’t challenge the brain enough.
In order for your brain to thrive, you need to continually give it higher quality information, which is often above your cognitive level. You also want to learn actively, which means you’re taking notes and linking what you’re learning in your memory through visualization.
Your memory is entirely based on connection and imagination. So when you’re learning something new, you want to be very active and imaginative with that information. You want to link what you’re learning with as many other things as possible. The more visual and exaggerated you are with how you approach new information, the more memorable it will be. As you change your memory, you change yourself. Thus, learning is not about retaining or storing information, but rather, it is about reframing your entire paradigm.
Thus, the purpose of information is not simply to put more information into the existing mental model you currently have. True learning is emotional and imaginative — thus, it is intended to reframe your entire mental model. If you don’t see and operate differently in the world, you didn’t change.
Change is very, very good for the brain. It’s one of the best ways to anti-age your brain and keep it healthy. Doing the same things over and over and not continually pushing and expanding your mindset and mental model is very bad for the brain. It trains your brain to be lazy. It keeps you stuck in a limiting identity and with an aging and decaying brain.
See the world differently every day.
Learn something new that changes how you view the world every day.
This is how you heal your brain, keep it young, and keep it healthy.
“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”
— Ann Landers
Research has shown that babies who don’t receive love can die. Oxygen and nutrition aren’t enough. The brain thrives on physical touch and emotional connection.
For over 75 years, Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study has tracked the physical and emotional health of two groups:
- 456 poor people in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study)
- 268 graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939–1944 (the Glueck study)
After following these groups and testing them (e.g., blood samples, brain scans) for several decades, the findings have been compiled.
Here’s the conclusion:
“The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
— Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development
As Melanie Curtin reported on Inc., “The biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.”
Although the Harvard study lays the foundation, there is other compelling research on the importance of human relationships.
This meta analysis showed a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships. Put simply, if you have healthy relationships, your chances of survival increase by 50%.
The most loving and deep relationships are built on a very simple foundation: giving and gratitude.
When the focus is on what you can give, rather than what you can get, the relationship becomes a gift to both of you.
There’s no holding back.
No keeping score.
Only in such relationships can you be fully present to the moment and fully un-inhibited in the expression of your love.