While I’m not an advocate of knowing too much, of frantically learning trivia to keep atop a cresting wave of airy foam, there are some tools that I find helpful and techniques that are worth a look.
Almost nothing is as good as a book for taking in new information, processing your own thoughts, and understanding your place in the world. Books require engagement, focus, and discipline—all skills that, once developed, spill over into every other area of life.
The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science: This is a fascinating look at how the brain works, at the level of individual neurons, but written in an engaging way that keeps you wanting more. It addresses questions we’ve all asked: Why do we get stuck in ruts? How do we break old habits and form new ones? When am I too old to learn new tricks? (Hint: never.) The science in this book brings us to understand literally how we are wired—and how we can rewire ourselves to improve our lives.
Sometimes just knowing that certain concepts exist can change your entire outlook on a part of your life. Here are some concepts that I’ve found helpful in evaluating aspects of myself:
Hedonic adaptation—joy in life is more a function of who we are than of our external circumstances
Impostor syndrome—70% of people think that they are frauds and that everyone else will eventually figure it out
Neuroplasticity—the brain is an amazing tool that can figure out how to deal with almost anything