There are a bazillion words written about how to raise our IQ, how to be more intelligent, how to increase our ‘creativity thinking’. Actually, though, we can achieve wonders with the brain power we already have just by learning to think clearly. Yes, it’s nice to be ‘smarter’ but clear thinking is much more achievable than a sudden kick up the IQ ladder. So, here are 10 techniques to help you think more clearly.
Clear Thinking Technique #1: Be Comfortable
I hate hot, humid weather! Yes, I literally HATE it. Other folks, though, love it and crave the muggy summers here in Atlanta, Georgia. What does that have to do with clear thinking? Just this … if you’re physically uncomfortable, it’s much harder to summon lucid and clear thinking. So, take care of your physical needs first. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re thirsty, get some water. If you’re hot or cold, find a more congenial temperature.
Clear Thinking Technique #2: Avoid Sugar Like The Drug It Is
Sugar is a killer! A famous book called Sugar Blues offers clear proof about the damaging effects of sugar – and in fact, sugar is considered a drug. There’s no reason to argue this point because you can prove it to yourself. If you think you are immune to the effects of sugar then try this experiment: the next time you’re really hungry and your stomach is shouting, “I want food and I want it now!”, eat a big piece of chocolate cake (or other rich sweet) – and nothing else. Then set a timer for 30 minutes and see how well you’re thinking.
Clear Thinking Technique #3: Stir Your Neurons By Walking
When you just can’t get those brilliant insights flowing freely, get up and move around. Better yet, go for a short walk. This will improve the quality of your thinking for two reasons:
Movement causes your blood and lymph to start moving. Increased circulation throughout your body will increase circulation get your brain moving, too.
Thinking about something new – or not thinking at all – is a mini brain vacation. A well known creative technique is to totally forget the problem you’re trying to solve and inspiration just might come.
Clear Thinking Technique #4: Take A Nap
It’s important to get enough sleep. The minimum – minimum, not optimum – for an efficiently working brain is five hours each night. An important note: the quality of your sleep is more important to high level brain function than the amount of sleep.
Clear Thinking Technique #5: Take A Deep Breath
Breathe slowly and deeply. Our bodies need an optimal balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide or CO2. Too much CO2 and we’re worried, stressed, agitated and tired. Our brains aren’t getting enough oxygen to function at their best. Deep breathing will restore the balance. Go outside and breathe in some fresh air. Sending oxygen to your brain is guaranteed to refresh and improve it.
Clear Thinking Technique #6: Forget Cocktail Hour
Scientists argue about whether damage is done to the brain when we drink alcohol. Yet, when watching a drunk with slurred speech, clumsiness, slow reflexes, and a loss of inhibition, it’s clear that alcohol affects the brain in some way. Currently, the consensus is that the brain cells themselves aren’t destroyed but that alcohol certainly damages the dendrites of the brain, the branch-like endings of the brain cells whose duty is to bring messages into the cell. This unarguably disrupts brain function.
Clear Thinking Technique #7: Declutter Your Brain
Most of us have cluttered minds. That is, we are busily engaged in thinking of a multitude of different “mind irritations” and we are like honey bees, incessantly flitting from flower to flower. Many years ago I was exposed to the idea of a “brain dump”, which is simply recording every possible item that’s on your mind. Don’t hurry this process. Simply write down everything – everything! – that’s on your mind. Don’t try to rush the process and don’t try to ‘do’ anything about each item. Carry a notebook everywhere you go until you feel like you’ve recorded everything that is bothering you, no matter how trivial. Once you feel like your list is complete, organize it into categories and begin taking whatever action is necessary to eliminate each distraction. The key for effectiveness is consistency. If you have a list of 98 items, you don’t need to take care of all 98 in one afternoon. Simply mark off each action as you take it, and relieve the mind clutter. You will be incredibly relieved! And don’t forget to keep an ongoing list so that your brain doesn’t become overwhelmed again.
Clear Thinking Technique #8: Organize Your Surroundings
Organize your space. Yes, there are a few rare people who thrive in clutter, mess and disorder. However, most of us do not and the sight of piled up papers, pens, cups, folders and books hiding the surface of our desks is mentally discouraging and exhausting. That also applies to every area that surrounds us, from our cars to the kitchen table where we eat our meals to our cluttered closets and bedrooms. Just facing that kind of mess can seem overwhelming so, again, a list is your best ally. Record what needs doing in each space and set aside a mere five minutes per day to work on just one small mess. That five minutes can, and almost certainly will, expand naturally and you will feel a sense of accomplishment and mental relief when not faced with huge piles of clutter.
Clear Thinking Technique #9: Make Your Decision & Then Let It Go
Most decisions in our lives are quite minor – yet they can drive us to distraction. First, we agonize over what to do and then we agonize over whether we’ve made the “right” decision. Yes, there are a few life-changing decisions that require contemplation but in general simply make your decision quickly and forget about it.
Clear Thinking Technique #10: The 5,000 Year Old Brainpower Booster
Nothing is better for your brain and mind than meditation. Most of us wander through life oblivious to our surrounding because we’re listening intently to the dialogues in our head. It’s though there’s a collection of people living in our minds and they’re always babbling away while we listen and even argue with them! As Eckhart Tolle so beautifully pointed out in The Power Of Now, living in the moment, the present, is the only place to be. Meditation is the most powerful antidote to this fragmentation. Only a few minutes of silence will quiet the mind and create powerful new brain patterns.
If you want more moments of clear thinking in your life, these techniques will help. Good news: you don’t need to use all of them to acquire more brainpower. Any one of them will help you to think clearly while the power of all of them will be incredible. And more good news: you don’t have to take our word for any of this. If you care about creativity, find out for yourself.