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10 Ways to Know If You're Performing at Your Mental Best

Self

The brain represents three percent of your body's weight yet it consumes about twenty percent of the body's energy.


Believe it or not, your brain is firing when you're pouring coffee and walking to the water cooler. Your brain is even active when you sleep.

But just because your brain is working doesn't mean it's working well.

Since getting ahead in this world requires some brainpower, it's important to pay attention to what's happening with your grey matter. Fortunately, if you find that you aren't performing at your mental best, there are some things you can do.

First, let's identify whether your brain is performing at its best. Here are ten ways to know whether your mental energy is being used well.

1. Your decisions are balanced between emotion and logic

If you find yourself making purely emotional decisions, you may not be performing at your metal best. People who are mentally strong understand that the best decisions are based on equal parts emotion and logic. Try not to make any important decisions while you're feeling a powerful emotion, such as anger or grief.

2. You face fears head-on

Mentally-strong people don't let fears hold them back. They understand which fears must be confronted and they face them head-on. It's true that some fears, like standing at the edge of a 12-story building, are valid. Other fears, like starting your own business or writing a book, are based on personal insecurities. If you think your insecurities are holding you back, it's time to strengthen your mental aptitude and charge forward. New experiences improve brain function, so there's no way you're performing at your best if you are stuck in the status quo.

3. You're comfortable with change

You've probably encountered someone in your professional career who has an extreme resistance to change. Not only is this person holding himself back, but he also stands to handicap the entire company. It's clear that extreme resistance to change is unproductive, but we'd all be wise to see where we may be resisting in our own lives. The strongest women won't waste a minute on the resistance. Instead, they'll jump straight to adaptation mode.

4. You learn from your mistakes

A Psychological Science study found that people who believe they learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to mistakes than people who don't. The difference seems to make sense from a logical perspective. Wouldn't you be more willing to try something if you have something to gain regardless of the outcome? If you succeed, you get everything you wanted. If you fail, you win by learning something.

5. You show gratitude while striving for more

Results from a NeuroImage brain scanning study suggest that the more you practice gratitude, the more gratitude you will feel over time. When gratitude replaces feelings of ungratefulness or apathy, you make room for more positivity in your life.

6. You're constantly working on yourself

A PsychCentral study suggests that you may be able to strengthen the medial prefrontal cortex by learning new ways of doing things. The medial prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is believed to be responsible for noticing details outside of a person's immediate focus. People who are mentally strong understand that there's always room for growth. To strengthen your mental performance, consider kicking any bad habits or addictions you may have and focus on positive growth.

7. You start your day with a cup of coffee

If you've heard mixed things about consuming coffee, you're not alone. The key takeaway is that it has benefits when consumed in moderation. And it may also have brain-boosting effects.

A British Nutrition Foundation study found that coffee has positive effects on mood, cognitive function, and performance. If you're not a fan of coffee, you may get some of the same effects from caffeinated tea.

8. You plan regular vacations

Mentally healthy people may know how to work hard, but they always find time for play. It's important to achieve a work-life balance that works for you. So if you're starting to feel too stressed, it may be time for a vacation. Even the act of planning a vacation can boost your mood, according to a 2010 Applied Research in Quality of Life study. If you truly cannot get away, at least plan some vacation time close to home.

9. You play to your strengths

Doubts and fear can really hold a person back. The strongest among us know to tackle their strengths before moving on to more challenging tasks. Even small achievements can boost your confidence enough to help you tackle more difficult projects.

10. You're comfortable relying on other people

When you are performing at your mental best, you should be comfortable letting go of the reigns a bit. You understand that one person cannot handle everything alone. As people, we need relationships to survive. If you're comfortable delegating and relying on others, you're showing positive mental aptitude.

The brain is a powerful organ that's responsible for virtually everything we do. If you want to succeed in work and life, evaluate whether you're performing at your mental best and make improvements if necessary.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.