In my office, I have a plastic model of a brain sitting on my shelf. Very similar to one you might find in a science class. You can take it apart to see each of the “pieces” of the brain. The frontal lobe, right and left hemisphere, amygdala and so on. It is both a useful learning tool, as well as a great reminder of the physicality of our brains.
Moreover, just like any other part of our physical being, the brain can be strengthened. No, there are no weight lifting exercises for the brain, however, there are exercises you can do to fortify this most important organ in your body. And, of course, they are all mind exercises, the part of your brain that engages with conscious thinking. These exercises are a shift in your thinking to make you a happier, more productive person.
So today, instead of picking up a pair of dumbbells, I’m going to be picking through the philosophy of the Buddha. Many psychologists have drawn correlations between how the teachings of Buddha can increase levels of happiness. For example, Buddhism focuses on the importance of selflessness, self-discipline, and detachment from material things – all elements that can contribute to well-being if worked towards properly.
I find the Buddha’s teachings on “purification of the mind”, or as I like to see it, “protection of the mind”, particularly interesting. Protecting your mind means fortifying it, it means making it stronger so that you’re able to have an optimistic outlook on life no matter what gets thrown at you. Whether these are external obstacles that are out of your control, or your daily choices, Buddha says that worldly passions (blind passions, i.e; greed, anger, and envy to name a few) lead people into suffering, and can make you weak.
Here are five teachings of Buddha that will help protect your mind, and strengthen your brain:
Our ideas should be based on careful observation. You have to understand cause & effect, and the significance of things correctly, without involvement of ego. Egolessness helps ground you and reminds you to not take things for granted – so use your egoless stance more often instead, and be even more grateful for what you already have.
Mistaken observations lead to worldly passions. To get rid of these we have to use careful and patient “mind-control”, or will-power. Willpower enables you to take control of your mind, direct your emotions, and oftentimes achieve more than average.
The things we possess, like clothes and food should not be thought of only as objects of comfort and pleasure, but rather of necessity. Minimalism reminds you that no matter how much you achieve or possess, the essentials are your foundation and without them you collapse.
We have to learn endurance, and how to be both patient and comfortable within uncomfortable or challenging circumstances. Resilience ensures that when you do eventually get closer to collapsing you’re able to get back up and face the next challenge.
We have to make an effort to avoid danger, harmful things, and/or negativity. Positivity will help you smile through all of it, or else what’s the point at all?
As it’s written in the teachings of Buddha, these five elements will help “purify the mind” from worldly desires. And, in my interpretation, thus allow us to build a stronger, healthier, and happier brain.
So I urge you to consider the importance of these five, interconnected elements and practice them throughout your daily routine. They will help you to become more resilient, and who does not need an extra dose of resiliency these days?!