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.

Mental Improvement

Building a sense of accomplishment is a difficult thing to do. In the East, many people believe being well-educated is being an accomplished person. As my parents are both Korean, I was raised and taught this too. This is why learning is a big part of my life. I strive to be knowledgeable in every category: history, mathematics, linguistics, sciences, etc. Exercising your brain and improving your mental abilities is essential to feeling a sense of accomplishment. How can you do this? Here are 5 simple ways you can exercise your brain.

1. Read a Book

When is the last time you picked up and read a book? For those people who do not remember, find a book you are interested and read it. Your brain, like every other muscle is your body, will atrophy without constant usage. There are many books out there that target brain exercise such as Brain Building in Just 12 Weeks by Marilyn vos Savants and Brain Builders!: A Lifelong Guide to Sharper Thinking, Better Memory, and an Age-Proof Mind by Richard Leviton. If you don’t know what you are interested in reading, go to a local bookstore and browse through various different kinds of books. There are millions of books out there; one should spark your interest.

2. Do Something Out of the Ordinary

Take a different route to work, wake up at a different time, or do anything that you don’t normally do. Your brain is receptive to changes and when you do something different, your brain responds to that change. There are tons of things you can change that are practical: brush your teeth a different way, change your workout routine, or rearrange your room.

3. Learn Music

Whether it’s singing, playing an instrument, or even learning to read music, the brain significantly increases in both size and activity. Music uses a different part of the brain than most other activities that we do. By using another side of your brain, your brain will be less likely to atrophy or will atrophy at a slower rate.

4. Notice Different Things

Let’s say you’re driving to work. How many traffic signs do you see? What order do you see them? What are their shapes, sizes, and colors? Most people do not actively use their brain. When you watch television, do you just see what happens? Try to notice the props and the backgrounds.

5. Exercise your Memory

Try drawing a pig on a blank sheet of paper. Don’t worry if you cannot draw well, but try to draw the little details. This is a little activity I learned from Brain Age on the Nintendo DS. Drawing little details help you remember things. Another exercise is to try to memorize a license plate you saw in the morning and recall it later in the evening. How many phone numbers do you have memorized (other than your own)? It’s only 10-digits. Try to memorize one a day or every two days. This will improve your memory.