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I think most of us humans vastly under-appreciate the complexity, power, and limitations of nervous systems — in ourselves and in other animals. Inside our skulls an astounding amount of microscopic activity is happening all the time that results in us being us.
Many other animals, from mammals to birds to octopus, cuttlefish and squid, to fish and insects, exhibit some of that same complexity. And yet we often take our brains for granted and neglect or abuse our own brains and those of others.
With more self-understanding, we can help to grow our brains, together, in desirable and harmonious ways.
Think of your brain as a living and growing plant inside your body, intricately rooted in and connected to the rest of your body. Its roots, branches and twigs are constantly growing, connecting, and re-connecting. It grabs information that comes in from your senses and attaches it to its growing tips, extending old brain structures and growing new ones — intricate networks of nerve cells — all the time, even when you are asleep.
Feed your brain, literally, with vital nutrients from food. It is a living thing.
Feed your brain information — with experiences. Those are what determine in detail how it grows. Favor encouraging experiences — those that enhance growth, rather than discouraging experiences — those that inhibit growth.
Encourage curiosity — actively seeking information — to grow a broad and richly connected brain.
Use imagination to create and try new ways to grow. But don’t depend overly on imagination; remember to “come to your senses” regularly.
Pay attention, and notice small things around you that might be overlooked but may be important.
Appreciate and beware of illusions. Learn how easy it is to be fooled and to fool yourself.
Test contradictions — parts of your brain that conflict with each other — to determine whether they can coexist or whether it’s better for some to dominate others.
“Watch your language.” Your language ability is a very special part of your brain. Develop and use it carefully to understand the expressed thoughts of other people and to express your own thoughts clearly, accurately, and precisely.
Extend your strengths. Grow from what you know.
Work on your weaknesses. Don’t let deficiencies impede your growth.
Rest and recuperate. Let your brain cleanse itself with sleep.
Manage your monsters — observe them, respect them, but keep them caged.
Check your own growth. Use other people’s help as mirrors to monitor the growth of your brain.
Have fun. A happy, growing brain makes a wonderful you.
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