Mastery necessitates a high level of expertise. To achieve expertise, you’ll need to learn a lot. Lifelong learning has even been given a name. To become an expert on the topic you’ve chosen, you’ll need a few fundamental tools. After all, you can’t ski without boots and poles. It’s no different when it comes to learning how to learn. In this case, three essential pieces of equipment are necessary.
Learning involves a development mindset, a truth filter, and a lot of reading, according to the major takeaway. Let’s start with the development attitude. A growth mindset is the belief that rather than being intrinsic, talent can be acquired through practice. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, demonstrated the benefits of this way of thinking using brain scans.
Dweck discovered that when people with growth mindsets were faced with a severe problem, their brains lit up and became extraordinarily active. People who didn’t believe their abilities could improve had their minds completely shut down. To put it another way, they didn’t believe they’d ever be able to solve the problem, therefore their brains didn’t even try.
As a result, in order to learn, you must first believe that learning is possible. Then you’ll need to construct a truth filter. A truth filter is a tool for assessing the quality of data. Having confidence in the information you’re receiving reduces anxiety, doubt, and cognitive burden, all of which can hinder learning. The author’s personal truth filter is the five-expert rule: he interviews five experts to confirm that anything is factual. But don’t be scared to try out different truth filters to see which one works best for you.
Choosing which resources to use is the final piece of the learning puzzle. These days, reading isn’t exactly fashionable. No other medium of media, on the other hand, has the same amount of information density. In research, reading books has been shown to improve concentration, reduce stress, and even prevent cognitive degeneration. It is self-evident that if you want to learn, you must be willing to read books.
You now have all of the tools you’ll need to learn. Now is the time to put them to good use. When you start learning about the area you want to pursue, you’ll come across a lot of unusual terms and notions. It’s possible that you won’t understand or be good at everything right away, which can be aggravating. Some people misinterpret their dissatisfaction as an indication that anything is wrong with them. This is not the case, contrary to popular assumption.
What exactly do you mean? The quantity of norepinephrine in your brain increases when you are frustrated. That chemical’s fundamental role is to prepare your brain for learning. Frustration is actually a sign that you’re learning something new. But how do you go about doing the learning part right? You can do so by following author Steven Kotler’s five-step process.
The essential point is that by following the five-step approach, you can learn almost anything. Reading is the first of the five phases, which includes reading a total of five books. Each book should be harder than the one before it, and you should read them without feeling bad about yourself. Your goal is to become familiar with the necessary phrases and jargon, not to become an expert on the issue you’ve chosen.
When you’re reading, make sure to take plenty of notes. Naturally, the notes will involve unanswered questions. The second step in learning is to seek out specialists on your chosen area with the purpose of exploring them. Although you may not be able to reach a Nobel Laureate, their graduate students are likely to be eager to speak with you. If you’re interested in consciousness, don’t ask a researcher, “What do you think about the consciousness debate?” If you’re interested in consciousness, don’t ask, “What do you think about the consciousness debate?” Ask them to elaborate on a specific paper they wrote instead.
After then, it’s time to fill in the gaps in your knowledge in the third phase. Let’s say you’re fascinated by animal behavior. More research on the behavior of entire ecosystems may be able to shed light on how smaller subsystems within them function.
This will naturally take you to the fourth phase, which involves asking even more questions about the subject and seeking out opposing viewpoints to those you’ve previously heard. You should be able to comprehend a variety of viewpoints on the matter at this stage. You should also be able to choose a side and explain why you believe what you believe.
Finally, you must locate the narrative for the fifth phase. What is the overall story that ties everything you’ve learnt together? You can achieve this by telling someone else a tale about the knowledge. Why? Our minds, on the other hand, enjoy looking for cause and effect stories. Our brains reward us with dopamine when we find one. And dopamine motivates us to seek out even more patterns, resulting in even more learning.
Clearly, there are advantages to being creative. But what is creativity, exactly, and how can you benefit from it? The essential takeaway here is that creativity necessitates the activation of three distinct brain networks.
Over the years, creativity has been described in a variety of ways. Because they believed that creative ideas were merely gifts delivered by the gods, many ancient cultures lacked a single word for it. Neuroscientists now have a better understanding of what creativity is neurologically. It includes the cooperation of two different brain networks: attention and imagination.
We can concentrate and make decisions using our attention. When our brains wander, whether it’s daydreaming, formulating plans, or anticipating future possibilities, imagination takes care of it. These two systems aren’t generally in sync when we’re thinking creatively, but they are when we’re thinking creatively. Creative people can move fluidly from attention to imagination and back, keeping both systems active at the same time. If you want to foster creativity, you’ll need to learn to do just that.
But first, let’s talk about the salience network, which is another area of the brain. This network’s job is to tell you whether or not an idea you just had is worth your time. It also regulates your ability to switch between focus and imagination. It also performs repeat suppression, which is very significant. That is, it suppresses familiar stimuli so that they are perceived as ordinary rather than novel and thrilling. The salience network of creatives, on the other hand, does not engage in repeat suppression in the same way. That means they are more likely to recognize beauty and uniqueness than others.
“Aha!” Everyone understands how good it feels when you finally figure out a difficult puzzle or grasp a joke. This could be described as an epiphany. It turns out that insight is essential to creativity. And you don’t have to wait for it to arrive out of nowhere. You can instead cultivate it. How? The anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC, which is part of the salience network, is strengthened.
The ACC lights up shortly before we solve an issue utilizing “aha” insight, according to brain imaging research. So, how can the ACC become more active? The solution is less complicated than you might expect. Simply put, a nice mood. The main point here is that being in a good mood helps you be more creative.
When you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to think analytically. That makes sense because your brain seeks to find something familiar when you’re threatened or terrified. It heads straight for the action plan it knows will work.
When you’re in a good mood, on the other hand, the opposite is true. You are not in any danger, and your mind is free to wander. It has the ability to transition between attention and imagination networks. This permits you to notice fresh, unusual, and possibly strange possibilities and then act on them.
So, how can you cultivate a positive attitude? A daily thankfulness practice, meditation, exercise, and good-quality sleep are just a few examples. Take, for example, gratitude. Because we’ve been educated to continually be on the lookout for danger, our brains are preoccupied with the negative. Negativity, on the other hand, causes a lot of tension. A daily thankfulness exercise, such as writing down ten things you’re grateful for each day, educates your brain to focus on the good instead of the negative.
However, being in a good mood isn’t the only factor that influences creativity. The importance of solitude and space cannot be overstated. Four days alone in nature offered participants a 50% boost on typical creativity tests, according to a 2012 study from the University of Utah. So get out from behind your desk and set aside some time to allow your imagination run wild.
The ultimate requirement for doing the impossible is flow. Flow has been scientifically proven. Complete attention on the current time characterizes the state. Stress hormones are drained out, while mood-boosting chemicals flood our brains. Productivity can be increased by up to 500%. Learning rates have increased by 230 percent.
It’s no surprise that flow makes us feel like we can accomplish anything. So, how can you get yourself some flow? There are four stages to the procedure. The battle is the initial stage. You’re learning, taking in a lot of new knowledge, and you’re getting upset.
Then there’s the actual release. It’s important to give your brain a chance to relax and unwind by doing activities like exercising, going for a stroll, or taking up a light hobby at this point. Your brain will be busy storing what you’ve learnt in long-term memory throughout this period. You’ll get your prize after this stage: flow. Allow yourself a substantial amount of time to work on your project with no external interruptions to help you get into flow.
After a good flow session, it’s time to move on to the final stage: recovery. Flow consumes a lot of energy, which must be replenished in some way. So have a nutritious meal, get some rest, or take a lengthy bath.
We’ve now covered all four of the key talents for attaining the impossible: motivation, learning, creativity, and flow. Now is the time to go out and seize your impossible. Everyone has the ability to do the seemingly impossible. It won’t be simple, and it won’t always feel good, but you can get there by honing a few critical talents. Find topics that interest you, keep learning about them, cultivate your creativity, and put yourself in a flow condition.
So there’s a suggestion for you to test out. Try the 80/20 technique popularized by author and investor Tim Ferriss while learning a new skill. The premise is that 20% of your activities are responsible for 80% of your outcomes. Let’s pretend you wish to learn a new musical instrument. Most mainstream songs have only four or five chords, so knowing just those chords can get you a long way. When learning a new skill, remember to concentrate on the 20% that matters the most.
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