Music – Boon or Bane?


Music is an art. Music is an escape. There are not enough words in my verbal arsenal to fully describe the beauty of music. But I’m not here to bore you with the traditional thoughts of how amazing music is. In fact, I want to do just the opposite. What if music was a bane to our lives? Music causes a significant decrease in productivity. Music causes your thoughts to wander, your feelings to .

Try this exercise. The next time you’re in your car, shut off the radio, your CD, or whatever music you have playing. Let your mind wonder. What do you think about? How focused are you on those thoughts? I find myself being able to concentrate deeply, being able to figure out solutions to problems, and being able to think of creative and innovative ideas for my work.

Or here is another exercise. Have music playing in the background as you’re trying to work. Count of the number of times you get distracted. Writing this entry took me especially an long time. I’m at 16 distractions right now. In fact, I can’t even think of what else I want to say.

Brain Training – Practice Thinking Outside of the Box

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past week is how to expand my mental capacity. It’s unfair that some people are innately more intelligent than others and that some people are born with higher intelligence quotients (IQs) than others. What does IQ matter anyways? It’s just a number. There are a myriad of scholars who are against IQ testing, which could be why IQ has never been used as a standard or test. Then I started to read some studies done with IQs. At first, all the studies seemed to be pedantic, boring, and obvious. Then I took a deeper look within. In communities where the general population is of lower-class, the average IQ tends to be much lower than the average IQ of the higher-class. Well, duh! More money means more education! But then, I got to thinking that maybe IQ is not something someone is born with, but something you could train. Some studies have even shown that playing brain training games actually helps your cognitive memory. I mean, yeah it’s highly unlikely that one could train their IQ and increase it 20-50 points, but maybe one can increase it slightly and pass it along from generation to generation. Well, how do we train our brains? Let’s take a lot of what intelligent people can do. One thing that they can do with ease is to think outside of the box. Let’s start with that.

How to practice thinking outside of the box:

  1. Experience a new culture. Travel to another country and immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture. You would have to learn everything from the beginning. The way the people think, the manner their community operates, and the feelings people have will be completely different than that of your own. Learn to think why they feel that. When you’re able to do this, you gain perspective and train your brain to think in ways you would never have before.
  2. Can’t travel? Then do something way out of the ordinary. Find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Read a book in a genre that you’ve never read from before. Spend time where you would have never spent otherwise. If you like to stay at home during the week, find an opportunity to go out to somewhere new. It could be anything from a bar to a dance club or a library or a gym. Step outside of your comfort zone. When we do something uncomfortable, we’re confusing our brain and teaching it in a way to think differently.
  3. Learn to play an instrument! Already know how? Then learn to draw! Or learn to dance, to sing, or to write. Exercise that creativity, nurture it, develop it!
  4. Walk backwards all day (if you can). I’m not too sure about this one, but I think it might help! Ha ha. Can you jump rope? Can you jump rope backwards? Learn to do both. By training your brain and body things that may feel awkward or abnormal, we’re actually training our brain.
  5. Most importantly, be open to new ideas. The more close-minded you are, the less you’ll ever think outside of the box. This doesn’t mean you have to agree and adopt another person’s idea. Yes, that idea could be pointless. But, try to follow their thought process and why they would think they way they do.

Re-Balance Your Life

Take a minute and reflect upon what you have done in the past hour, past week, past month, and past year. How many checks have you marked on your list of goals? How many of your aspirations have been completed? Once a month when I track my progress of my goals, I find I have either gone astray or completely lost. That’s because it’s so easy to get caught up with everything that goes on in life. So, I’m dedicating this blog into balancing and re-balancing each and every aspect of my life.

Success (usually) leads to happiness. However, people tend to give up one part of their life to succeed in another. Life is not about giving one part for the better of another part. True happiness comes from having a perfect balance of each aspect of life. Now, I can’t say I’m truly happy, but I’m striving to find that balance.

How do I balance my life? Where do I start? Well, let’s take one step at a time. Many professional, self-improvement bloggers and authors advise to start with a list of goals. Grab a blank sheet of paper or open a word document and write a list of aspirations that you’d like to achieve. Personally, it’s easier to write everything that pops into my head. Disregard whether they are long-term aspirations or short-term goals. It does not matter if they are mental goals, physical goals, or spiritual goals. Just write.

If you need some help on ideas on what to write, take a look at Steve Pavlina’s 30-day trials. Once you feel like you have written everything you could, try to categorize them into spiritual goals, mental goals, physical goals, etc. Also, you can detail them out with sub-points. I’ve printed out my goals and posted them on my wall. Here’s a short list of mine:

Physical Improvement

  • Don’t drink soda, junk, or any other unhealthy foods
  • Stretch every day
  • Go for a long walk every day
  • Go for a 20 minute run every day
  • Exercise 5 times a week (30 – 60 minutes)
    • Increase each by one set every day
      • Warm Up with 2 sets of 20 high jumps
      • Run for 20 mins
      • 5 sets of 100 jump ropes
      • 5 sets of 30 crunches
      • 5 sets of 15 push-ups
      • Cool down of 1 minute leg lift
  • Work out at least 3 times a week (45 minutes)
    • Day 1 – arms and chest
    • Day 2 – back and shoulders
    • Day 3 – legs

Mental Improvement

  • Learn at least one new vocabulary word every day
  • Spend 30 minutes reviewing previous words
  • Learn foreign languages, study a foreign language for 15 mins
    • Korean
    • Spanish
    • Russian
    • Chinese
    • Japanese
    • Vietnamese
  • Learn to play guitar (at least 15 – 30 minutes everyday)
    • Yesterday – the Beatles
    • More than words – extreme
    • Wherever you go – the calling
    • Canon in D
  • Learn to play piano
    • Moonlight sonata
    • Other classical songs
  • Learn to dance, maybe some bboy
  • Learn to sing
  • Study GREs
  • Read daily

Relationship Improvement

  • Strengthen the relationships I have currently
  • Extend my network for the future – find people who are destined for success
  • Meet someone new every day. Start up a conversation with a stranger
  • Maintain communication with those in my network
  • Listen empathetically to people
  • Provide feedback only when they ask, listen and show that I care when they need to vent
  • Never judge and compare

Spiritual Improvement

  • Find a deeper self
  • Discover what I truly believe in

Family Improvement

  • Begin thinking of ways I’m going to be an exemplary father
  • Teach my children to be strong-willed, accomplished, yet modest people
  • Build a healthy mother-son and father-son bond
  • Explore what true brotherly love is

Financial Improvement

  • Allocate a certain amount of money into investments and savings
  • Increase personal net worth
  • Write finances and update it monthly

Miscellaneous Improvement

  • Give up spending so much time online
  • Go out every evening. Go somewhere different each time, and do something fun — this will be a memorable month
  • Clean your living area for 15 minutes a day
  • Volunteer
  • Write in a journal daily
  • Write or brainstorm possible blog entries daily
  • Cook dinner every day
  • Find out what I really want to do with my life
  • Dispose of unnecessary items