Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
Thanks to the endless amount of information available to us, we humans continuously increase our capabilities.
But we’re overloaded by information. If you can’t declutter your mind, you’re likely to stress the brain, and even affect emotional health.
So how can you make it work for you?
Think of intelligence as a muscle. If you want to achieve more, you need to exercise it, both in everyday and challenging situations. This is what top achievers call a “growth mindset”. It means adopting sharper thinking patterns, and optimising the way you process your emotions.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s my summer reading list: 10 posts to think differently and develop a growth mindset.
1. If you have too much in your head
As we’re bombarded with information each and every second, cognitive overload is a real thing for our brains. If you have too much to think about and can’t keep track of your ideas (or create new ones), this fascinating article will show you how to build the habits that allow your brain to use its growth mindset function.
Try the “blender technique”; un-focus by doing fun or physical activities, in order to switch off information collection. This lets ideas sink in and turns on the information connection circuits in the mind.
2. If you can’t stay focused
Over-stimulation is a thing in our lives. It doesn’t help when we need to give our full attention to what we’re doing. Research about why we can’t focus has evidenced that distraction and overloading of mental circuits can lure us into thinking we can do everything at the same time.
But there’s another element that you can’t ignore: your brain sucks up 20% of your energy. If you can’t continuously fuel it, your productivity will sink! This detailed article is a goldmine of tricks to keep in mind throughout the day, to ensure you keep your energy and emotional levels up.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks” ~ Winston Churchill
3. If you want to be more efficient
Have you ever wondered how some people can do it all (and have it all)? They might not be the smartest in the room, but they achieve so much because of their grit and resilience.
They have strong self-discipline and take enough care of themselves to keep cruising at peak performance.
“Performers nurture the connection they have with themselves. This time serves to keep them proactive in their mindset, rather than reactive.”
Want to read more about productivity? Check out this post!
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4. If you feel you can do more
It’s not easy to be fully aware of all we can achieve; doubt, limiting beliefs, procrastination often get in the way. But recent work in neuroscience “proved that our brains are capable of expanding and growing based on the conscious mindsets we have”.
A growth mindset can help you make a positive change in how you approach life and achieve your goals. For instance, do you often reflect on your actions, retracing your steps from where you started? Are you open to new experiences?
It’s not difficult to switch to a more confident and open mindset, as this Addicted to Success article shows.
“Life is like a mirror, whatever you do reflect…your actions determine your personality” ~ Harriwan H. Mahdi
5. If you want to focus on positive relations
Human beings are social animals and have lived in tribes since the beginning of their existence. Some studies even show that without social interactions, we tend to get depressed and anxious. But how can we make sure we develop healthy and positive relationships with the people around us?
In her article, Martine McGowan states that processing our emotions and dealing with emotional discomfort are essential to maintain healthy relationships. For instance, setting clear boundaries for each relationship, or trying to be more flexible, can improve your emotional health and those around us.
6. If you’re ready to spend time with yourself
Finding quiet time in our busy and noisy world is hard. But if you notice how badly we’re over-stimulated, it’s essential. We need time to process thoughts, generate ideas, give our brain a rest, or just enjoy silence and contemplate how we feel.
Many people dread solitude. But, in reality, it’s a sign of emotional maturity. Spending time with yourself doesn’t mean being idle doing nothing. As you will see in this post, there are many ways to make it entertaining and even relaxing.
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind” ~ Albert Einstein
7. If you’re starting a mindfulness practice
I recently shared why mindfulness is the sure path to meaningful interactions, and can’t say enough how beneficial it is, in both family and work life.
Our emotional reality often dilutes the messages we perceive and those we send. Just spending a few minutes each day on mindfulness can help you reach thoughtful conclusions, instead of rushed reactions.
Here are 7 steps to mindfulness you can implement in a few minutes per day, so no reason for not trying!
As an extra bonus, here’s my Slideshare on using mindfulness at work!
8. If you need to reconnect with your spiritual side
Many people think having the spiritual life is the same as being religious. But it can be as simple as embracing some principles of life philosophy, to improve the way you approach life, engage with others, or gain confidence.
From stoicism happiness principles, to other spiritual traditions such as Confucianism and even schools of Philosophy, there are many life principles you can make your own. In this article, you will see that, without having any form of belief, embracing spiritual activities will help you grow your wisdom, keep your ego at bay by reinforcing humility, and grow your resilience and acceptance of life challenges.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking” ~ Marcus Aurelius
9. If you just want to be happy
Who doesn’t want to be happy? It’s a daily quest for many of us, be it personally, or by trying to understand if happy at work is possible.
One of the common causes of unhappiness is to be out of balance. But even if you feel the odds are against you, you always have a choice. You can decide to endure the situation by being moody and frustrated, or you can take action to go back to your happy state asap.
How often do you check if you’re in full harmony with yourself, your environment, or the people around you? This short article introduces simple habits to stay grounded and lift up your mood!
10. Bonus: How to be happy, according to the Happiest Man in the World
If you don’t know Matthieu Ricard and his work, let me introduce him briefly. He’s a French Buddhist monk who took part in scientific research exploring the link between meditation and happiness. The research evidenced how meditation can rewire the brain and develop the grey areas responsible for “feel good” emotions.
Incredibly wise and compassionate, I encourage you to check out his work from time to time (he’s quite active on the web and his TED Talk is just brilliant) and find your own way to be happier! This interview below about the essence of happiness is one of my favourites.
Do you believe your capabilities are innate, or what you can do is entirely due to your actions? Many examples show that people with a growth mindset perform better in many areas when facing challenging situations.
And that’s the point, the growth mindset believes trouble is just important feedback in the learning process. Use these wise words to think more, better and differently and become one of those people who can “have it all”!
Any other great summer reads to add to this list? Share in the comments below!