The brain is a powerful asset of human beings, to the point that scientists are trying to build computers that would model its complexity. And once your brained-based abilities — also known as cognitive skills — are working efficiently, there’s nothing to stop you from achieving your most desired goals.
This cognitive ability can ensure everything from how fast you learn and how well you remember things to your social skills and capacity to solve problems.
So what can you do to support your brain’s potential?
Mindvalley teamed up with world-renowned memory and brain coach Jim Kwik, a top-leader pioneer in the area of cognitive functions. Taking inspiration from his vast knowledge about the organ, here’s a dive into what you should know about your brain-based skills:
- What Are Cognitive Skills?
- Why Are They Important?
- 3 “Kwik Tips” on How to Improve Your Cognitive Skills
As Jim says in Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest, “Give a person an idea, and you enrich their day. Teach a person how to learn, and they can enrich their entire life.” And here’s your first step to a more enriched life.
What Are Cognitive Skills?
Cognitive skills are the abilities your brain uses to make your rational mind function. This is how you can learn, read, make decisions, remember things, and use your attention.
The definition of cognitive skills can also include how your mental processes function. So the more you develop these abilities, the better you will perform in different areas of your life, such as in work, studies, or social interactions.
Examples of cognitive skills
Here’s a list of different abilities your brain can work with:
- Hard skills. They can be learned by anyone who will put in the time and effort to acquire them. Think about learning a foreign language, financial planning, or research skills.
- Soft skills. They are more difficult to change because they require discipline, building new habits, and adapting to the environment. Think about communication skills, teamwork, and stress management.
- Analytical skills. These skills help you develop a critical mind and attention to detail. Think about reporting, research, and data analysis.
- Social skills. They help you communicate and interact effectively with others around you. Some examples are negotiation, leadership, and coordination.
- Problem-solving skills. They can relate to a number of different skills, mostly analytical. For example, creative thinking, being proactive, and resilience.
- Effective communication skills. They help with how well you communicate and; therefore, connect with other people. Think about active listening, body language, and delivering your message with confidence.
Why Are They Important?
Because they help you think better, rationalize better, make smarter decisions, solve problems faster, and learn new abilities. When you develop your cognitive skills, the way you carry yourself through your life experiences is going to improve as well.
It’s important to work on these functions of your brain because if you don’t, you may not be able to achieve your goals as fast and as efficiently.
Our most precious gift is our brain. It is what allows us to learn, love, think, create, and even to experience joy.— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest
Here are some statistics that prove the importance of working on your cognitive skills:
- 85% of success at work comes from having well-trained soft skills.
- 42% of all workers had jobs where social skills were highly important.
- One survey has found that the most in-demand hard skill to learn for well-paid jobs is digital literacy.
If you want to create the life you want, get the job of your dreams, connect to the people you like the most, and improve your learning capacity, you should definitely make a priority the improvement of your cognitive skills.
3 “Kwik” Tips on How to Improve Your Cognitive Skills
Superbrain coach and trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest, Jim Kwik, shares with you five tips on how to improve your cognitive skills and make the best out of your potential. According to him, if you master the skill of learning, then you can learn anything.
1. The FAST method
The faster you can learn, the faster you can earn.— Jim Kwik, trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest
Jim encourages you to practice the FAST method. And each letter stands for a concept that you should apply to your learning process that will help develop your cognitive skills.
- F — Forget. This is about forgetting all of your limitations and entering with the beginner’s mind. Jim says the human mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open. So it’s important to ditch all of the limiting beliefs like “I can’t learn how to… because…” And remember that “if you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.”
- A — Active. Don’t be passive consuming information. You only learn by rolling out your sleeves and getting involved, creating that experience. So take notes, ask questions, and remember that “learning is not a spectator sport.”
- S — State. It’s all about how you feel and what emotions you associate learning with. Information plus emotion becomes long-term memory. Do you remember how you felt in school? A lot of times, you might have associated learning with boredom and confusion. How much of it do you remember now?
- T — Teach. “When you teach something, you get to learn it twice,” says Jim. So just for the sake of consolidating the information you’d like to learn, try sharing it with someone else. And even from the first time learning it, learn with the intention that you’re going to teach someone what you’re taking in at that moment. You’ll see that you will pay much more attention.
2. The MOM technique
To learn any cognitive skill better, you need to improve your memory and fix your forgetfulness. As Jim says, “There is no learning without remembering.”
So use the MOM technique to tackle that:
- M — Motivation. When learning a new ability, it’s important to consider your motivation for doing so. What drives you? What would your life look like if you gained that skill?
- O — Observation. Observation is attention. It’s being present. If you want to remember something, don’t get distracted. For example, listen to the person speaking if you want to train your presence. Jim points out that “powerful presence comes from being powerfully present.”
- M — Mechanisms. It’s about all the techniques you learn on how to memorize and activate your superbrain.
3. Use lifestyle hacks
If you want to learn faster and more effectively, Jim recommends five lifestyle hacks to implement into your life in order to improve your cognitive skills.
A good brain diet
Nutrition is highly essential for the proper functioning of your brain. So make sure you feed your body with the proper foods to boost your brain capacity.
Some good examples include:
- Wild salmon
- Dark chocolate
And of course…water. Your body is 70% water; therefore, it is essential to hydrate your system constantly. Jim also recommends trying out a superbrain smoothie with some of the ingredients mentioned above and plenty of water.
ANTS stands for “automatic negative thoughts.” They are intrusive and make you lose energy by feeding into them. And as Jim reminds you, your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk.
And it might even believe what it hears. So if you’re saying things to yourself such as “I have a terrible memory” or “I’m too old to learn this new skill,” your mind might listen and create that reality.
Exercising is a must for the good health of your body, your heart, and your brain. When your heart starts pumping through exercise, blood flows to your brain. It’s good to remind yourself that it’s not only a mind-body connection but also a body-mind connection.
And when you take care of your body, you’re actually taking care of your brain as well.
Another important aspect of your lifestyle to consider is the quality of your sleep. Whenever you’re not getting enough sleep, you affect your memory and focus.
When you sleep, you’re consolidating your long-term memory, and you’re cleaning the plague off your brain that causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is more, if you aren’t getting enough hours of sleep, you don’t enter the REM sleep state, which is the deepest part of your sleep cycle. There is where your deep relaxation and recovery happen.
According to Jim, stress shuts down big parts of your brain, so it hinders your learning process. It’s essential to learn how to calm down your nervous system and manage the stress in your life.
Some things that can help include:
- Walks in nature
- Meditation (try The 6 Phase Meditation Method with Vishen, founder of Mindvalley, to guide you)
- Connecting to your dear ones
Taking care of your lifestyle will only support the development of your learning process and the cognitive abilities you want to acquire.
Unleash Your Cognitive Superpowers
Activating your brain power is a whole journey ahead, and it requires time, patience, and practice.
If you’d like to speed up your process and feel guided along the way, Mindvalley is here for you. By unlocking your access to the FREE Superbrain Masterclass, you can get a taste of what it means to take proper care of your brain and its superpowers. You’ll be amazed by the results you can achieve by implementing a few simple hacks, all taught by brain expert Jim Kwik.
Sounds exciting? Welcome in.