Why our brains are only as capable as our bodies allow them to be.
Our minds are one of the most incredible things in our known universe. As impressive as all the stars and planets are, our minds seem to be just as complex. As far as we know, we have reached mental capacities this planet has never seen before.
Our brains have created complex languages, amazing architecture, and revolutionary technology. The progress our species has made is almost unfathomable in the long history of our planet. Yet, with all these amazing accomplishments, our brains are still limited.
The good news is we have some control over most of these limitations.
One of the most important restraints we have control over is the state of our bodies. Our bodies control our brains. This is a simple fact of our survival.
When we feel pain, our brains focus on that pain. We may be able to distract ourselves for a moment, but our attention will soon wander back to that pain. Similarly, when we’re too cold, too hot, tired, sore, dizzy, or uncomfortable, our focus will rest upon these feelings.
If we want to control our brains, we must control our bodies.
It Is Hard to Be Productive When We Don’t Feel Good
It can be nearly impossible to take a test or make it through an important interview when we feel sick. Everything besides our runny nose or bad stomach becomes irrelevant.
When we’re tired it takes enormous amounts of willpower to exercise or tackle the most challenging parts of our day. We may be able to do it now and then, but it’s not possible to do it all the time. The stress we go through will slowly cripple our mental capabilities.
We Have to Take Care of Our Bodies
If we want to be productive mentally, we have to feel productive physically. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising are all crucial, but I think it goes even further. Sitting at a desk for too long can be just as harmful to our productivity. Just a little scheduled movement could make a drastic difference in the amount of work we complete each month.
There are so many options for moving and having fun while working. It could be 15 minutes of dancing, a nice walk, an easy bike ride. You could visit an old store you once loved or explore a new part of town. You might even find someone to join you in your daily movement.
These small actions may not make a big difference from one day to the next, but the small changes will add up when given enough time.
Challenging Your Body Will Expand Your Mind
Pushing our bodies to their physical limits makes us physically strong and resilient, but it also makes our mindset strong and resilient.
Our minds have a genetic baseline, but where they go from that baseline is largely under our control. If we want to reach our greatest potential, we have to continuously push our mental capabilities.
One of the simplest ways to do this is by challenging our physical capabilities. We all have a certain point where physical tasks and exercises become uncomfortable. It’s at this point that our mental capabilities begin to be challenged.
When we decide to quit, we let an opportunity pass by. On the other hand, if we continue to push ourselves for one more mile or one more rep, we begin to create a mental image of ourselves as someone who works hard and goes beyond what feels comfortable.
Maybe you start with one more push-up. The next day it might be three more push-ups. Then the next day you might decide to spend an extra 15 minutes writing. Before you know it, you’re writing more often. Your writing starts to flow better, words seem to come so easily, and story ideas emerge out of nowhere.
Your writing habit has grown, in part, because you decided to challenge your physical boundaries.
Our brain and our body are intertwined. There is no way around it. If we want to be successful in one, we have to work on the other.
This tradition of training both the brain and body dates back to the Ancient Greeks. The Ancient Greeks were able to maintain a powerful and ideologically advanced society, largely because of their emphasis on physical and mental strength. Many of us do not need to be sculpted fighters, but we do still need to focus on our physical well-being. Once we let ourselves start to decline physically, our mental capabilities will follow.
Every day is filled with opportunities to move and be physically involved with the world around us. If we all took advantage of the benefits of small movements such as walking and stretching, we could be much more productive and happy.