Mind, Body and Spirit Part 2 – My brain is 8 years older than I am.

With a mind like a diamond

Inside my brain

photo credit: country_boy_shane

A couple of months ago, I wrote on my other blog about how my brain is like a toddler on pixie sticks. In the last couple of months, it hasn’t slowed down any, but I’ve managed to build the focus part of my brain up to be a little bit stronger. I think the key to having a healthy mind, is to handle anything that might be a distraction first, and keep it all taken care of so you don’t have to constantly think about it. That leaves your mind time to do what it does best: Create, Analyze and Deduce.

Eliminating the Distractions

There are things that are distracting, and there are things that are distractions. I like to classify one as the things that live outside your brain. Television is distracting. Cute Redheads are distracting. The dog needing to go out or pee on your shoes is distracting.  Those are things that draw your attention away from what you’re doing, but they are short term. They pop up and fizzle out. Real distractions linger for a while.

Identifying your real distractions.

The real distractions are the ones that come from inside your own head. These aren’t real world distractions, they’re the things you can’t help but think about. Real distractions are things like that check you can’t remember if you wrote down or not, or how long you can make the gas in your car reach. Real distractions are the things that keep with you all the time.

For me, my real distraction is money. I’m bad with it. It makes me worry a lot that I’m not going to be able to cover all of my bills. I think about it all the time, and check my bank account balance 5 or 6 times a day online. In fact, I’ve checked it once since I started writing this article. There are more distractions than that, but that’s the biggest one by far. Now that I’ve identified it, I can start getting rid of it.

Cleaning up the mess

When a mind is healthy, its organized on the inside. Now, not everyone’s organization is the same, and one man’s perfectly reasonable piles may seem like a giant mess to someone else, but nevertheless, organization is the important step here. The idea is, that if we can take control of the things that distract us, we can stop worrying and move on. For me, I’m bad with money and I think about it all the time. One of my mental goals for this year is to get my finances in order so that I don’t have to worry about them at all anymore.

I’ve been working on it already in 2010, and 2011 is just a continuation. The first step for me was to start looking at how big a mess everything was, because instead of actually taking care of my checkbook, I just worried about how I never had any money. That part was pretty easy to do, actually. I signed up and started using Mint.com. Mint.com is free, and probably the greatest online tool I’ve found to date. I connected my checking account, car payment, credit cards, etc. to it and let it track my spending for a couple of months.

It was an eye opener.

Thankfully, though, it also showed me what I was really worried about, and how simple it would be to fix it. I really started working to eliminate things like $230 a month in snacks from the gas station. The only real problem was it showed me exactly how on the edge I really was with my finances. $34 to be precise. I have an extra $34 per month income over my expenditures. With that in mind, I hit the nets and started looking to figure out how I could fix myself without having to get a second job. What I found was Get Rich Slowly.

I learned all kinds of things, like how to snowball down my debt and build an emergency fund. I started a saving’s account with Ally Bank. Ally is a free online savings account with no minimums and a pretty danged good interest rate. The most important part for me, though, it takes 2 days for me to move money from my Ally account to my personal checking account. That means its there if I need it, but I can’t spend it easily.

Since I started saving and eliminating debt, I’ve completely eliminated one loan, and raised my credit score by about 300 points. It was made me able to get my new car. These days, I don’t worry as much about money. I’m expecting to have my credit cards paid off completely by July. If I can do that, I’ll have my Focus paid off in 2 years.

I don’t have to worry about it anymore, and that gives my brain more time to do the important stuff, like exercising.

Keeping the Mind Sharp

They say the brain is just another muscle, and in order for it to stay fit and healthy, it must be treated like the rest of the muscles. You’ve got to give it a work out. For me the brain has three functions, Creativity, Analysis, and Deduction. Keeping our mind sharp means that we need to get regular exercise in all three sections. Think if it like Cardio, weight training and diet. It kinda works like that.

Feeding your mind the proper foods

If you want to be a writer, then they tell you to read a lot, and read a lot of diverse things. My little brother is a musician, and his music collection is the most ecclcectic thing I’ve ever heard. Painters and photographers spend hours looking at pretty things.  If you want your mind to be as creative as it can be, you have to give it inspiration.

Part of my plan to make myself a better me for this year is to read 1 book a month. That is only 12 books a year. When I was younger, I could read 12 books a week. I’ve let myself go as much mentally as I have physically, though, and whereas I can still read at high speeds, I can’t comprehend it as much anymore. If all goes according to my master plan, I’ll increase my book rate from 1/month to 1/week in 2012. For now, though, I want to start off light and do it properly.

Pumping the Iron to keep the mind hard.

In addition to reading more books, I’ve also decided to start participating in a couple more challenges, similar to #Reverb10.

  • 365 Project – A picture a day for 365 days. I love to take pictures, and since I’ve learned about Phoneography, I’ve decided to try my hand at it.  (A special thanks to InkyTwig for encouraging me to not let being bad at something stop me from doing it.)
  • A River of Stones – Taking the time each day to focus on a single thing and write a short poetic sentence about it.
  • Post a Day 2011 – This one is simple, you just write something every day for 2011. 365 posts. I’ll see how I’m doing come July. (Yes I missed January 2nd already, I’ll make up for it, I promise.)

Creating something every day should really help keep my brain pumping out the yummy juices. I’ve felt more empowered as a writer since I began writing every day thanks to #Reverb10. I intend to keep it up through out the year.The more I use my brain to create, the faster it will work in any situation.

Jazzercise the mind!

The last step to getting my brain fully back in shape is really pushing it with some intense short speed training. I prefer to play games like Brain Age, and there are lots of free online places you can play games like that at. The idea is to really get the brain working as hard as it can for a few minutes. Doing that every day really should help clear up the muck that resides all over my mind.

Check back tomorrow for the Body part of Mind, Body and Spirit.