September 2019 – Cognitive Health Update

Each month I provide an update on my progress to bettering cognitive health. This includes challenging my brain in scored games, expanding my knowledge through books, reviewing the latest research articles and watching creative, idea-worthy talks.

Brain Games

Alright, I had my first ever decrease in score for Lumosity… but I can explain! They added a new training game called Skyrise which works on your field of view and is categorized in the Attention group. I played that game a few times and didn’t achieve the highest scores. Due to this poor performance, my score in that game dragged down my overall Lumosity LPI. I’m sure that with more training time, I’ll be able to raise that score and my overall Lumosity LPI to over 1800 once again.

In the meantime, I raised my overall score in both Elevate and Peak, and reached my Peak Brain Score goal of 800! I’m excited about this because a number of the games have harder levels which unlock after you achieve an overall score of 800+. So I’ll be working on those harder levels in the upcoming months. What I’ve noticed from playing these brain training games is a higher level of focus on whatever I’m working on. I can be working in an airport, with the TV on, or with numerous distractions and I’m able to mute those distractions to better focus on the task at hand. I’ve found this to be a useful byproduct of brain training.

Brain Workouts: 18 out of 30 days
Lumosity LPI: 1795 (-6 since August)
Elevate Average: 4429 (+18 since August)
Peak Brain Score: 800 (+9 since August)

Book of the Month

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This is my favorite book of the year. It is a great combination of scientific studies, interesting stories, relatable content, and directly applicable processes for improvement. The Power of Habit explains a concept called the habit loop. The habit loop is a three step loop that describes how habits work and why they continue. The three steps are: 1) Cue. 2) Routine. 3) Reward. You can take any habit that someone has and lay out that habit over the three steps. An example of this would be brushing your teeth. For example, someone’s cue (1) for brushing their teeth may be the time of day (just before bed) or the feeling in their mouth (fuzzy teeth). That cue will prompt a routine (2) to ensue. In this example, that would be brushing your teeth. That routine then produces a reward (3). That reward may be smooth teeth, or the feeling of being healthy. And what’s interesting is even something as simple as brushing your teeth, can have different cues, routines or rewards depending on the person that’s developed the habit. The Power of Habit teaches you how to identify your own cues, routines, and rewards. It then teaches you how you can change your routine (2) when the same cue (1) is triggered, in order to receive the same reward (3). The powerful notion of this is that you can change any bad habits you have right now, once you understand the process, and be better off.

This process is described well in the book and details how you can use it to workout consistently, stop addictions, and live a healthier life. I decided to use this process on one of my bad habits. Mobile gaming. First I identified my three steps for this habit. My cue (1) for mobile gaming turned out to be any break outside of work where I didn’t have something to do at that moment. For example, when I come home from work early and have extra time in the day. When this happened, my routine (2) of mobile gaming ensued. The reward (3) of mobile gaming was mental engagement and relaxation. When I played mobile games, it was relaxing because I could lay down on the couch or bed to relax. It also engaged my mind so I wasn’t bored. Now that I identified all the steps in the process for my habit, I could then try changing my habit loop. What I decided to do was change the routine of mobile gaming to reading. When reading, I could get the same rewards as mobile gaming. Relaxation and mental engagement. I can read while laying on the couch or bed and my mind is engaged/active. After consistently identifying each occurrence of the cue in my life, I would perform this new routine and achieve the same reward. After a few weeks, it started to become a habit. I’ve mostly forgotten about my mobile games and my reading has increased greatly. I think this is a great example of how altering the habit loop can be used to create healthier habits.

I hope everyone who reads this post picks up this book from Amazon and gives it a read. It’s a great way to learn how to modify your routines to create healthy, sustainable habits in your life.

Passion Kills by Paul Jarvis

I subscribe to Paul Jarvis’ Sunday weekly newsletter and every once in a while, I find that one of them really hits home. This past Sunday, Paul wrote about the effects of being passionate about your work (full newsletter linked below). What he describes is much different than what most people preach. Paul believes that you shouldn’t be passionate about your work. Because when you become passionate about your work, it easily becomes your life. Your work can become your purpose and consume all your time and thoughts. And this passion to work can suffocate all other components of your life. It can put stress on relationships, eliminate time for hobbies, and diminish your healthy habits. Instead, Paul believes you should treat work as a job. A job that you should still attempt to excel at, but one that has limits and is a means to enhance other parts of your life. This thought is much different than popular belief and was very thought provoking for me. Feel free to read the entire newsletter linked below and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Full Newsletter Here

Final Thoughts

A short post this month but a really good one I think. I’m still progressing on brain games and constantly pushing my mind to improve. I read a great book that helped explain how habits work, and how they can be changed to improve any aspect of your life. And I got a new perspective on work that made me really think about work, passion, and health. I’m happy with how this post came out and hope you learned something new!

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Disclosure: I frequently review or recommend products and services that I own and use. If you buy these products or services using the links on this site, I receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t impact my review or recommendation.

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