Our brain is powerful and complex, but sometimes it feels like it’s stuck in neutral while we want it to go forward. You can go to the gym and use a treadmill to train your body to run faster, so where is the gym for your brain?
Why Fast Thinking?
Being able to understand and respond quickly can have many advantages in your life.
Thinking more quickly can make you more confident. Have you ever started a task such as a crossword puzzle, and your mind just goes completely blank? You’re thinking, “This can’t possibly be this hard. I must be stupid.” Having a negative opinion of yourself will bleed into every other aspect of your life.
If you think you’re slow to comprehend, you pass on learning new things that could enrich your life. When you believe you’re slow to recall information, you may turn down your friend’s invitation to Trivia Night. Everyone will miss seeing you there, and your friends will begin to worry about you. When you repeatedly decline their invitations, they will stop inviting you altogether.
Now, you’ve been having very little social interaction, and you’re constantly getting the message from within that you lack something that everyone else has. It can be a slippery slope into a depressive episode from here.
Reversely, if you think quickly on your feet and recall the correct information, you’ll feel so good about yourself. Speaking in public will be no issue for someone as confident as you. You will rule Trivia Night. You’re never afraid to speak up for yourself or others because you have your argument locked and loaded.
When you are happy with who you are, your physical health will improve as well. People who have a positive mindset lead longer, happier lives than those who are constantly thinking negatively.
Thinking quickly can also help you excel in your career. Being able to recall accurate information quickly will soon lead you to being the star of the office. You could finally get that promotion you’ve been gunning for but are passed over on every year.
You may even find the courage and confidence to quit a job that is holding you back. Maybe the environment is toxic, the work is boring, or you just aren’t making enough money. You deserve to have a job that you love going to!
Finally, thinking quickly can keep you safe. Being able to react in a split second can mean life or death in everyday situations. Especially when driving, you need to remain present and observant in the moment, gathering information, so that you can react accordingly if the car in front of you brakes suddenly, or the car next to you swerves into your lane.
Quick thinking is a huge part of self-defense. If you live in an area where crime is rampant, learning self-defense and being able to react quickly to deploy what you have learned can help keep you from being a victim of crime.
How to Think Faster
Knowing all of the benefits that quick thinking can bring to your life, it’s time to speed things up! Here are a few ways you can begin to think faster:
1. Learn a New Language
Scientific studies have proven that people who are bilingual or multilingual have superior mental dexterity. Repeated use of more than one language makes your brain switch courses quickly. This rapid shift from English to Spanish for example is like making your brain dart in and out of an obstacle course. When you learn a new language, you’ll find that you’re able to create complex ideas, solve problems more effectively, and move between topics of thought quickly.
Learning a new language can also open other doors for you. Through learning a language, you often learn more about the language’s origin country and its culture. Enriching your life by immersing yourself in other cultures will lift your spirits up, making it even easier for you to think quickly.
2. Working Out
Well, there’s no gym dedicated solely to the brain. Did you know that hitting the regular gym is also good for increasing your thinking speed?
Bursts of exercise result in bursts of energy. You can’t think quickly if you don’t have the energy to do so. When your body and your brain are feeling sluggish, go for a run or complete a circuit of jumping jacks. The increased blood flow to your brain will help give you mental stimulation.
You’ve been hearing about the mental effects exercise can have on a person for years, but how can it help you think quicker? Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins allow your brain to prioritize at its best. This means you can more quickly recall the subjects that are important in the moment instead of your brain wandering off while you’re taking a test. The release of endorphins can also be accompanied by serotonin, the mood boosting chemical. Serotonin can help you wipe the slate clean and get rid of distracting, negative thoughts. When you’re in a good mood, you think twice as quickly.
3. Proper Nutrition
You know that you have to eat a balanced diet for your body to function at its best, but did you know this is especially critical for your brain?
Research has proven that diets containing omega 3 fatty acids lead to better brain health. Some sources of omega 3s include fatty fish, nuts, and plant oils such as flaxseed oils.
Caffeinated beverages such as green tea and coffee can also improve your brain’s performance. Caffeine increases energy and mental alertness while the antioxidants in these beverages fuel your brain over time.
Another natural source of antioxidants is blueberries. The antioxidants in blueberries help your brain by counteracting stress and inflammation. These two things can lead to neurodegenerative disease if sustained for long periods of time.
4. Proper Sleep
Sleep affects every single system of your body: your heart, your lungs, your brain, and more. The number eight has long been thought of as the magic number for how many hours of sleep we need, and it is true. Science has proven that between seven and nine hours of sleep a night is optimal for people over the age of 18.
If you struggle to get the recommended amount of sleep every night, my biggest suggestion is to create a routine. Every night, beginning around the same time, you follow a calming routine that will get your body ready for bed. This can include having a warm, non-alcoholic drink, taking a hot bath, and meditating before retiring to a room that is cool and comfortable, free from bright lights and any source of distraction such as a cell phone or laptop.
Over time, you won’t even need to do the relaxing parts of your routine. Your body will recognize and say, “Hey, it’s 8 pm. We need to settle down now.”
If you are still struggling to fall or stay asleep, consult a physician. Many sleep disorders can be treated easily and effectively.
5. Mental Exercise
If you want to think quicker, you’ll need to train your brain. There are many ways to take your brain to boot camp such as playing cards, putting together puzzles, and playing word games with friends.
You can’t expect to learn something once and then immediately recall it. You have to practice utilizing the knowledge that you have. You can participate in game nights that include trivia, watch episodes of trivia shows, or you can even write articles about the topic.
If you learned a new language to increase your mental dexterity, practice using it. Language is very much a “use it or lose it” skill. When you don’t routinely use the language, it’s easy to forget certain words or phrases, or even mix up the meanings of two words. Caro and carro in Spanish mean two different things, and if you are not routinely using the language, it can be easy to transpose the two words.
You can practice the language you learned by watching movies in that language, conversing with native speakers of the language, or using a language learning app to keep your comprehension sharp through routine practice.
Accuracy Vs Fast thinking
Thinking quickly isn’t always the bee’s knees. Especially when we are uneducated on a subject, the first thing that comes to our mind could be completely wrong.
Accuracy is even more important than the timeliness of your answer. If you are slow to come to an answer, but your answer is correct, you are not stupid or lacking knowledge. You just need to train your brain to recall the information faster. By eating a well-rounded diet full of brain fuel, exercising, and doing mental exercises, you will be thinking on your toes in no time.
Words of encouragement
While you train your brain, it’s important to be kind and patient with yourself. You’ll never succeed or feel fulfilled if you are constantly talking down to yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back when you do things correctly, and leave room for understanding when you do something incorrectly.