Healthy Brain, Smart Brain: Level Up Your Intelligence!
I wish it were obvious, but it needs to be said: in order to live well, we need to Be Smart. Developing our intelligence is one of the vital recommendations of the ancestral health model, with good reason. The “powers that be” would like for us all to be mediocre at best, uneducated at worst. Over the last few decades, resources have gradually been stripped away from schools and universities, the media communicates largely to a “dumbed down” audience and social media has diminished our ability to concentrate. Common sense seems to be a thing of the past, submerged beneath a mountain of beauracracy, illogical rules and petty regulations.
The education system, from primary school onwards, is about teaching us how to sit still and focus on a limited range of subjects. As one progresses up the academic ladder, the range of vision is whittled down to a single point.
“Generalists”, not “Specialists”
But human beings, for the most part, evolved to be “generalists”, not “specialists”. Our ancestors were able to perform an extraordinary range of tasks. Until not very long ago, any young person, male or female, could be asked to grow a vegetable garden, pluck a chicken, milk a goat, make and mend clothes, cook a range of meals, build a fence and repair all sorts of things. They also had a beautiful calligraphy.
Today, the requirement to specialize and become experts in a narrow field, leaves us sadly ignorant and incompetent in so many other aspects of life. Most of our daily roles and responsibilities are predetermined by our employment and our culture. Beyond the limited range of skills required to perform those tasks, there’s very little that we’re capable of. Consumerism means that we don’t need to learn new skills: the more we can buy, the less we can do.
Unfortunately, a mind that is too specialized and confined becomes stressed, frustrated, unhappy and inflexible. If the intelligence of the mind isn’t exercised, we lose the ability to solve real-life problems and we become prone to making mistakes.
Technology means we’re not thinking much any more. Our brains don’t need to remember phone numbers or calculate simple arithmetic, let alone make strategic decisions. Instead of resolving a problem ourselves, we call someone, Google it or buy it.
If your kid misses the bus, for example, he calls you with his smartphone and you go and pick him up. A few years ago, he and his friends would have had to think about and plan a strategy for getting home safely. They would have improvised a healthy adventure – and you would have trusted in their independence. If the kids weren’t yet mature enough to look after themselves, they would’ve stayed home and entertained themselves through their imagination.
Flexibility and Creativity: Exercising Intelligence Every Day
How many things can be built with a cardboard box, with wood and nails, with paint and string? How many games can be invented with a piece of rope? My siblings and I grew up in the 60s, 70’s and 80’s, well before technology and Social Media. Our activities were endless and cost nothing. Our imagination had no limits and we were never bored. We were constantly learning and aquiring new skills through craft, invention and playing.
The brain needs to be exercised in order that it be flexible and strong. Our intelligence needs to be stimulated through creativity, hobbies and through intellectual challenges. “Free time” activities are important for stress management. They disengage us from our daily roles and responsibilities. They promote well-being, cognitive productivity and good mental health.
When we practice a craft, learn a language or play a musical instrument, we access parts of the brain that are generally shut off or closed. Crosswords and making things challenge our capacity to solve problems. Painting, dancing and drawing free our intuition.
There are ways to activate the mind that are so fun and engaging that we lose track of time. This is a sign that we’re connecting with our inner essence. Naturally, human beings are happy, easy going, creative and intelligent. Freely expressing these qualities is an indication of sound mental health, and a sign that we’re living our full potential.
How to Be a Healthy Human
If you’ve been following along with these posts, then you’re now in a good place. You not only understand the difference between surviving and thriving – but you’re also wanting to change. You’ve got your head around the importance of managing stress, strengthening the immune system and reducing inflammation. You’re pretty curious about the idea of ditching the carbs, burning fat and lowering your stress levels. You’re feeling motivated, and that’s brilliant!
In the following posts, we’ll get into the nitty gritty of what it takes to be a healthy human.
Culture, Nature, Spirit, Self: The Layers of Human Relationship – Expands upon the limited view of “relationship” being only about other people and pets.
Sun Blocked: Vitamin D Deficiency and Insufficient Sun Exposure – Vitamin D “switches on” so much positive gene expression, and it’s best to receive it through sunlight.
Technology, Dopamine and Addiction – Is this the biggest problem that we face today?