1: The brain is always changing. We're always adapting to what we're doing, when we're doing it, how we're doing it, where we're doing it, and with whom we're doing it.
We must embrace variety.
We grow in two directions: deep and wide.
Deep growth means it would take a long time to lose our skill if we stopped practicing.
Wide growth is flexibility. It's the ability to perform in many different environments, with different people, different ways, at different levels of complexity.
Deep learning comes from years of practice. Wide learning comes from deliberately varying the details and context of the practice.
For example, if you meditate, do it inside and outside, alone and in a crowd, for twenty minutes today and 5 minutes tomorrow, sitting, standing, walking, eyes open, eyes closed. Practice focusing on different things (the body, the breath, the world outside you).
This creates flexibility, as the brain adapts the skill to different contexts.
Our brains develop "meta-strategies", i.e. strategies for creating new strategies in new conditions.
2: How well I do today is not as important as my attitude about trying again tomorrow.
Growth takes time. It requires persistence through failure.
The most effective path to increasing our resilience is to cultivate what is called a growth mindset. This is the belief that we are always changing, that evaluation today does not predict skill level tomorrow.
This basically comes down to keeping in mind the distinction between results (which are obvious) and growth (which is subtle).
Winning and losing are feelings. We need not feel successful to grow.
3: To become a master at something, we must practice it for many hours over many years.
An effective way to prevent "burning out" or "getting bored" is to leave ourselves wanting more.
Our brain uses a simple and mostly effective mechanism for deciding whether we should repeat an experience. It records our emotions at the peak and the end of that experience.
If we feel negative (tired, bored, stressed, anxious) when finishing a workout or a jam session or a writing session, etc., then we are less likely to want to do it again next time.
Leaving yourself wanting more is playing the long game. And by the way, it's easier and more fun.
4: The brain's immense complexity includes the ENTIRE nervous system, with all of our senses, through which we experience every aspect of our lives.
Our psychological development is inextricably linked to our physical development, and vice versa.
We learn on three major levels: physical, emotional, and cognitive. The more we can integrate all three, the more mastery we can have.
Spending hours sitting in school every day, kids are not being allowed to integrate what they learn into their bodies.
It's no wonder that so many kids now have "attention control issues." Such conditions are natural responses from the brain as it tries to regulate the body's physical inactivity and discomfort from sitting for so long.
By integrating math with psychology and physical movement, we can give students more opportunities for complex growth.
There has been increasing attention to the connection between sensory-motor learning and cognitive learning in a field called Embodied Cognition. Check out my page on Research resources to see more.
Thank you for reading. I hope this was helpful to you on your journey.