Note: this article is just 70% complete. I do not have enough free time to finish remaining 30%. But, whatever is there in this article is simply amazing. So, use these ideas and gain the benefits. It is written in a bit funny and flambuoyant style. So, please neglect the style and focus on contents in case you do not like humorous and confident language of the article.
Since I am mentoring many students in my family (most of whom look to me as their Guru in academics and yoga) on all dimensions of student life, I am sharing my guidance to them on the issue of important study skills, in this post.
I give guarantee that any one who will sincerely follow these tips will develop a very high level of intelligence (creative ability) and memory power (and will give me at least 3 times “Thank you” in his/her life ).
Using KompoZer web-development freeware, I am improving the organization of all my posts apart from improving their contents also in light of ever-growing knowledge and understanding. I am trying my best to scale up the degree of excellence in both the contents and the organization of these posts by many orders so that the readers get the best possible guidance as well as the perfectionist freak in me gets reasonably satisfied. This post is organized as follows now:
Table Of Contents
Before we can bring in light, let us first understand the causes of darkness. Why does a person suffer in life? Various people have given various answers. Buddha said, “All sufferings are due to desire (whether positive or negative).” At a deeper level, this is 100% true, but most of us cannot practically apply it. Now, the next level of guidance is all sufferings are due to negative thoughts, words and deeds. A question arises: how to know whether a thought, word or deed is negative or not? Sages have given clear answer: if any thought, word or deed causes loss of inner peace to you or anyone else, it is negative. Please mark the word “inner peace” here. This inner peace is the surest touchstone to know how wise our thoughts, words and deeds are even if our impulsive, immature mind may try to rationalize any of these thoughts, words or deeds. Remember, mind can be self-deceptive – it is quite capable of fooling itself. Those who are unable to understand and manage this self-fooling ability of mind, suffer a lot in life. So, irrespective of any self-fooling done by your mind, always consider a thought, word or deed negative if it causes loss of inner peace to you or anyone else. If someone causes others loss of inner peace by any of their thoughts, words and deeds whether intentionally or unintentionally, it also will sooner or later return as suffering to such a person. Many people behave so rudely with others as if others are their slaves and are born just to fulfill their ego and act as dumping ground for their anger, frustrations and selfish expectations. These people think that they can continue to do this just because others are dependent upon them financially or otherwise or weaker than them. But, sooner or later, the reaction happens and these people come to endless grief. That’s why wise sages ask us to avoid being wicked and cruel to others even for the sake of our own happiness.
At a even grosser level, we can categorize the reasons behind our mental suffering as follows:
- Health problems. to do
- Financial problems. to do
- Relationship problems. to do
- Stress due to fear about the future
- Stress due to emotional attachment to unpleasant events of the past.
to do – this means even if at present we have good physical health, financial health and good relationships, we may continue to suffer by getting stressed due to fear about the future or emotional attachment to unpleasant events of the past. And if even in the present, we have some problem with health, finances or relationship, then the stress level may increase even more.
All these 5 problems are caused by many subtle reasons like lack of good planning skills, lack of discipline to implement one’s plans properly, selfishness, anger, greed, pride, jealousy, emotional attachment to unpleasant events of the past and fear. The solutions to these problems are multi-dimensional and are described below:
- Develop extremely good management skills in fundamental areas of life, namely time management, goal setting, project management, communication skill, relationship management and emotion management. Also keep on developing your management skills in specific areas as well whenever needed. I am writing a whole book which will get published in 2012 – I assure you that the book will be published on zero-profit, zero-loss basis so that it remains cheap enough for everyone. Till then, please use my blog to learn various insights that I have gathered through extreme level of sincere and intense efforts. For time-management, you should use insights and suggestions given in this document: http://gopal4mission.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/time-management-skill – on both daily as well as long-term basis.
- Preserve your vital energy without any break. See, a student (in fact, everyone else also) looses his vital energy (prana) mostly through 3 means – negative thinking (tension, anxiety, anger etc), intentionally breaking one’s brahmacharya (celibacy) and useless outer interaction. You should avoid all three like you would avoid a poisonous snake.
- Take healthy diet. Take healthy diet, which has all nutrients in required amounts. Take care about taking milk (and milk products like curd, etc), which has Vitamin B12 necessary for brain’s intelligence and memory. Except milk (and milk products), no other vegetarian diet has vitamin B12, so avoiding milk (and milk products) may lead to loss of intelligence and memory to some extent. But, milk is so rich that one cup of milk has more Vitamin B12 than one egg. So, take milk (or milk products) daily and get all vitamin B12 needed for a sharp brain and good memory. You can also take a multi-vitamin and mineral tablet (like supradyn) after consulting with a doctor, as a supplement to your diet, but that will not be needed if you take milk, curd and other diets with sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Milk, fruits and almonds are very good brain-food and must be taken regularly by us. Even if you do not like them, take them as a medicine to help the growth of brain. And those who cannot digest milk, should take curd. No need to kill poor animals – whatever nutrients one can get in meat, one can get in milk, fruits and almonds also, be they omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin B12. So, be kind to all animals by being a vegetarian as they are our closer relatives than plants and also because when killed, they do suffer more than plants due to a developed nervous system (plants have only rudimentary nervous system as compared to animals whose nervous system is closer to ours). To sum up: take a heathy, vegetarian diet. Please find good details on nutritional needs of humans in section “VII. Details information on balanced diet”.
- Daily practise thoughtless awareness meditation and other yoga techniques.
- For physical health, practise 3-5 min sarvangsasa and 5 min stretching and bending exercises for all joints of the body – neck, fingers, wrist, shoulder, elbow, waist, knee, ankle, etc.
- For gaining a peaceful, one-pointed mind, daily practise thoughtless awareness meditation for 30 min and kapalbhati and nadi shodhana for >= 5 min each in the morning hours.
- Also practise thoughtless awareness meditation in all free time like taking meals, bath, walking, cooking, etc. to avoid loss of mental energy in useless thinking.
- Always keep up a positive, broad-minded and confident attitude. Some inspiring poems for you regarding this point:
- Promise Yourself
- The Song of Life
- If You ThinkIf you think you are beaten, you areIf you think you dare not, you don’t,If you like to win, but you think you can’tIt is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lostFor out of the world we find,Success begins with a fellow’s willIt’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you areYou’ve got to think high to rise,You’ve got to be sure of yourself beforeYou can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always goTo the stronger or faster man,But sooner or later the man who winsIs the man who thinks he can!
~ Walter D. Wintle (19th & 20th century) ~
- Look well to this dayLook well to this day:For it is life, the very life of life.In its brief courseLie all the verities and realities of your existence.The bliss of growth,The glory of action,The splendour of achievementAre but experiences of time.For yesterday is but a dreamAnd tomorrow is only a vision;And today well-lived, makesYesterday a dream of happinessAnd every tomorrow a vision of hope.Look well therefore to this day;Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!~ Kalidas (4th or 5th century AD) ~
- IfIf you can keep your head when all about youAre losing theirs and blaming it on you.If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat these two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winningsAnd risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in youExcept the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
~ Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) ~
- Don’t QuitWhen things go wrong, as they sometimes will,When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,When the funds are low and the debts are high,And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,When care is pressing you down a bit -Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turnsAs every one of us sometimes learns,And many a fellow turns aboutWhen he might have won had he stuck it out.Don’t give up though the pace seems slow -You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer thanIt seems to a faint and faltering man;Often the struggler has given upWhen he might have captured the victor’s cup;And he learned too latewhen the night came downHow close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out -The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,And you never can tell how close you are,It may be near when it seems afar,So stick to the light when you’re hardest hit -It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
~ Unknown ~
- The Road Not TakenTwo roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveller, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth.
Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and II took the one less travelled by,And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost (1874-1963) ~
- A SmileA smile costs nothing, but gives much-It takes but a moment, but the memory of it usually lasts forever.None are so rich that can get along without it-And none are so poor but that can be made rich by it.
It enriches those who receive, without making poor those who give-It creates sunshine in the home,Fosters good will in business,And is the best antidote for trouble-And yet it cannot be begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is of no valueUnless it is given away.
Some people are too busy to give you a smile-Give them one of yours-For the good Lord knows that no one needs a smile so badlyAs he or she who has no more smiles left to give.
~ Unknown ~
- Before YouBefore you speak, listen.Before you write, think.Before you spend, earn.Before you invest, investigate.Before you criticize, wait.Before you pray, forgive.Before you quit, try.Before you retire, save.Before you die, give.~ William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) ~
- Do MoreDo more than belong: participate.Do more than care: help.Do more than believe: practice.Do more than be fair: be kind.Do more than forgive: forget.Do more than dream: work.~ William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) ~
- We MustWe must be silent before we can listen.We must listen before we can learn.We must learn before we can prepare.We must prepare before we can serve.We must serve before we can lead.~ William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) ~
- Be The Best of Whatever You AreIf you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,Be a scrub in the valley-but beThe best little scrub by the side of the rill;Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,And some highway happier make;If you can’t be a muskie then just be a bassBut the liveliest bass in the lake!We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew,There’s something for all of us here,There’s big work to do, and there’s lesser to do,And the task you must do is the near.
If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail,If you can’t be the sun be a star;It isn’t by size that you win or you failBe the best of whatever you are!~ Douglas Malloch (1877-1938) ~
- It Couldn’t be DoneSomebody said that it couldn’t be done,But, he with a chuckle repliedThat “maybe it couldn’t” but he would be oneWho wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grinOn his face. If he worried he hid it.He started to sing as he tackled the thingThat couldn’t be done, as he did it.
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;At least no one we know has done it”;But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,Without any doubting or quiddit,He started to sing as he tackled the thingThat couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,There are thousands to prophesy failure;There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,Just take off your coat and go to it;Just start to sing as you tackle the thingThat cannot be done, and you’ll do it
~ Edgar Guest (1881-1959) ~
(to do – improve it further without increasing the size of the section that much)
Please read the detailed reasons behind brahmacharya (celibacy) during student life here: http://gopalkrishna.mission.googlepages.com/selfControl.htm and find more techniques and quotes on great importance of brahmacharya/celibacy during student life here: http://gopal4mission.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/greatly-inspiring-brahmacharya-quotes.
I am describing all major techniques for celibacy during student life below:
- Celibacy at the level of eyes. Eyes are the first source of lustful impressions from outer world, which eventually leads to sensual thoughts and finally, sensual deeds also. How to keep eyes free from the influence of lust? Use below means to practise celibacy at the level of eyes:
- Have a spiritual attitude towards opposite gender. Avoid looking at exciting images in newspaper, magazines, posters & websites so that you do not loose your time and energy in lustful thoughts and deeds.
- Avoid all so-called romantic movies and songs as much as possible.
- Whenever you go to cyber-cafe, take up the computer in public view and don’t even go to private quarters, as you might see some misguided person surfing inappropriate sites and may develop the harmful desire to do the same.
- In future, if you need to buy a personal computer, use internet filters like “Safe Eyes“ with a very difficult password which you cannot remember, but which is kept safe by your friend/relative as administrator for your account. But, since cyber-cafe people don’t install any filters, follow above rule without exception. Note down: “In matters of lust, personal will is prone to failure unless your achieve a very high state of consciousness. Never rely only on personal will. Keep yourself 100% safe from polluting environment in initial 12 years.”
- Mental celibacy. It means celibacy at the level of thoughts. Use below means to practise mental celibacy:
- Practice all the tips given for celibacy at the level of eyes as they are a must for maintaining celibacy at the level of thoughts.
- 2 hrs before sunrise is considered brahmamuhurtha. So, if the sun rises at 6 am, 4 am to 6 am is the brahmamuhurtha period AT such a place. Just waking up in this time induces awakening of Shushmna channel and activates kundalini, thus naturally leading us to deeper peace and freedom from passions of lust, anger, greed and pride. So, in the worst case also, try to wake up by 5 am every day. And then practise yoga for 45-60 min. This will be an ideal beginning for your day.
- Don’t indulge in or listen to lustful conversations, as they will disturb mental celibacy sooner or later.
- When lustful thoughts arise, practice thoughtless awareness meditation or external breath-retention till they vanish (Exhale fully and then retain the breath outside as long as comfortable and then inhale completely – this is one round of external breath-retention. An advanced technique of external breath retention is described here:http://gopal4mission.wordpress.com/2008/01/04/great-lock-exercise-also-known-as-maha-bandha-in-yoga/). It will work when lustful thoughts arise with mild intensity. If lustful thoughts arise with very strong intensity, none of yoga methods may work and the only means that will work without fail is to fast for sometime. So, in such case, give up next meal (whichever it is - breakfast, lunch or dinner) and rest assured, however strong lustful passions may be, they will get calmed down as a result of fasting for next meal.
- Physical celibacy. It means celibacy at the level of body. Our suggestions regarding the practice of physical celibacy are as follows:
- Night fall or monthly periods are also loss of celibacy, but they doesn’t lead to much loss of vital energy, but consciously loosing one’s reproductive elements in waking state (except for procreation purpose) is quite disastrous. One break in physical celibacy leads to such a loss of vital energy that for next 1-2 days, one feels physical weakness as well as for next 1-2 days, one cannot fully concentrate on any work. Concentration requires presence of lots of vital energy – in absence of that, one cannot concentrate well for long-time and will feel soon tired and even sleepy.
- Apart from immediate harm, long-term harm that happens is great. Lack of vital energy brings diseases and weakness to all organs. Brain’s activities like memorizing and one-pointed thinking requires the most amount of vital energy, so one looses both one’s intelligence as well as memory to some or great extent according to the level of voluntary loss of reproductive elements. The best reasoning to support this is the scientific fact that lecithin, cholesterol, phosphorus and other constituents of nervous and brain tissue are the main constituents of reproductive elements as well. The loss of these valuable nerve-nourishing substances, by promoting undernutrition, is responsible for the disturbed functioning of the nervous system and brain. If one avoids breaking celibacy, then the same nutrients get used up in improving the mental powers because the same nutrients which could have been lost in momentary sensations of lust, are now available for creating new cells of brain and nervous system. Thus, one’s mental powers improve significantly.
- By sheer effort, one can get good result despite break in celibacy, but the same person will do much, much better if he/she combines his/her labors with practice of celibacy also.
- In nature, critical mass is needed for leap. For example, water starts boiling at 100 degree centigrade but not before that however long you may maintain water’s temperature below 100 degree. Likewise, for getting an A-grade job, you will need to maintain self-study + coaching >= 10 hours for at least 2-3 years. In the same way, the real benefits of celibacy start after 12 years’ practice – by accumulation of prana/”vital energy” over 12 years, one reaches a critical mass of prana/vital energy which leads to a breakthrough and entire prana, which ordinarily ignorant people throw in the drain of sensual deeds, moves towards brain leading to continuous experience of bliss as well as a phenomenal memory and intelligence. That is the reason why till 25 years (from 14 to 25 is exactly 12 years) and even after that till student life, one is supposed to practice full celibacy. The benefit of this celibacy practice during student life will remain for ever. This being an article rather than a book, it is not possible to put a large number of quotes on this, but I will quote some of Swami Vivekananda’s words and stories on this subject matter:
- Even a sceptical person can witness the benefits of enhancement in bodily strength and mental power by practising celibacy for just 1-2 months. The proof of sweetness of cake lies in eating it, isn’t it?
Disclaimer: Your Honour! Please do not consider me an idiot or a dimwit or a nut till you finish next section “IV. How to develop a very high level of intelligence (creative ability)?” because advanced aspects of conceptual learning namely applications of concepts and developing new ideas/concepts have been elaborately explained in that section. In this section, the focus is primarily on learning factual materials and preliminary level of learning existing concepts/ideas. After you finish the next section, I will accept your judgement humbly on whether I am a dimwit or a smart, witty fellow. But, till then, hold on your judgemental impulses! Okay!
In addition to the universal recommendation of practising brahmacharya (celibacy) throughout student life, on which already a detailed, separate section has been written above, use the following suggestions in order to make our learning faster and more long-term for both factual and conceptual materials:
- Develop a child-like eagerness and make learning a fun. to do – expand – add learning becomes fun when you have a child like eagerness to know and understand things, you realize the significance of the learning, learn in a calm atmosphere as far as practically possible and use the right material. To realize the significance of the learning, it is good to understand how learning a particular subject will help us in life by giving us better skills or understanding of a particular, important issue. It is also important to discuss with others like teachers, seniors and classmates about the benefits that learning a subject will give to us. At the level of a particular book, in order to develop the broad understanding of the importance of a subject, one should always read first preface, forward (if any), table of contents and other information given in the book about the author(s) and the book. Even if one is interested in a particular subject, still to make learning fun, one need to use good quality books which give simple and clear explanation in an organized manner with a good number of diagrams and other visuals like table, flow-chart, etc. as well as give a good amount of solved examples and exercises.
- Always use recall technique for learning both factual as well as conceptual materials. Then, you will learn much faster and retain the knowledge and understanding much longer.
- What is recall technique? Why is it good for both factual as well as conceptual learning? Combine rereading (reading/writing facts many times by looking at the source material) with recall. Recall means whatever you learn, you should either try to remember it (if it is a fact) or explain it (if it is a concept) mentally or do so verbally or in writing without looking at the source material and then, check with the source material whether you have recalled (remembered or explained) it correctly. Using this approach, you will develop a very good memory and conceptual understanding of the study material. Recall technique works so well because of multiple reasons, the chief among which are as follows: Reason 1. When we try to use some fact or concept stored in our memory, we do recall it. And the laws of all mental processes like thinking, visualization, imagination and recall are same – the more you use them, the more proficient your mind becomes at these processes. Thus, using recall technique enhances the memory power and conceptual understanding substantially. Reason 2. One pays more attention to subject matter while practising recall and with more attention, all our mental processes like thinking, visualization, imagination and recall becomes more developed and productive. To get more convinced about the power of recall, read below points also:
- Story of Thurlow Weed (one of the most prominent American politicians of Abraham Lincoln’s time): Concerned that he lacked a native facility for remembering names and appointments, and believing that “a politician who sees a man once should remember him forever,” Weed consciously trained his memory. He spent fifteen minutes every night telling his wife everything that had happened to him that day, everyone he had met, the exact words spoken. The nightly mnemonics worked, for Weed soon became known as a man with a phenomenal recall within a few years.
- Why does group discussion help people in understanding things better? Among many reasons behind this, one important reason is: when one participates in a group discussion, one practises the recall of various concepts. Hence, group discussion helps people in understanding things better. The other important reasons are: (1) the other person may use a better example or methodology to explain the concept, and (2) one pays extra attention while doing group discussion – with more attention, one’s mental capacity to grasp concepts or memorize facts always increases.
- Technical implementation of recall technique through flash notes/cards for complete understanding of study materials. Always use flash notes/cards to learn faster and better. Flash notes are notes where questions are written on one page and answers are written on some other page or the other side of the same page so that when one is looking at the question, one does not look at the answer at the same time. Flash cards are a particular type of flash notes where the questions and answers are written on different sides of the same page – so, flash cards are good for only short-answer questions unless and until we use flash card software like Anki which enables us to use flash cards for even long-answer questions. If one has a computer, nothing can be better than using such software because the flash card files will be stored on computer and can easily be backed up and used whole life also unlike flash notebooks which being bulky cannot be stored that well. The use of flash notes/cards helps in the practice of recall a lot because questions and answers are written separately. For a faster and more long-term learning, both rereading and recall should be balanced. Thus, flash notes/cards method is a universal method to learn faster and better due to the most extensive use of recall. Are you wondering why we call them flash notes/cards? Well my friend, word “flash” means being continuously and alternately on and off. For example, a bulb flashing means it is getting on and off continuously and alternately. When one uses flash notes/cards, one has to switch to various pages or the different sides of the same page, which appeared as continuous on and off to the person who was chosing the name for this method. Got it! It is a bit funny, isn’t it? If yes, let us do hihihi or hahaha for some time. Okay, let us get a bit serious now – only a bit! To get the most benefits out of flash notes/cards method, sincerely follow below instructions:
- Create a table of contents in the flash notebook. One should create a table of contents in the flash notebook listing various chapter names and the pages where the questions and answers for a chapter are present in the flash notebook. Doing it is indispensable for easy and fast reference. If you are using flash card software like Anki, the equivalent instruction is to create one anki file for each chapter of the book and put these files in a folder/directory with name same as that of the book.
- Create the flash notes/cards during the second reading of the topic. First read the topic once for a basic level of understanding. Then, do read it second time also for a more solid understanding. While doing the second reading, create flash-notes in question-answer format on all important facts and concepts of that topic from the book/article in a notebook (call it “flash notebook”) or using flash card software like Anki. Of course, if you lack time, you can create the flash notes/cards during the first reading itself, but in general, doing it during the second reading is recommended as it helps more in correctly figuring out important facts and concepts on the topic and creating suitable flash notes/cards by converting those important facts and concepts into question-answer format.
- Use a combination of short-answer and long-answer questions in flash notes/cards. One can create “1 question and 1 answer format” or “a couple of questions with their answers” format . The example of the former format is: “Q.1. In which year did World War I start?” The example of the latter format is: “Q.1. In which year did World War I start? What were the factors which led to the beginning of the War?” Thus, the former is a short-answer question whereas the latter is a long-answer question. Use the mixture of both formats wisely so that you can cover your study material adequately and in an intelligent manner. Also, use a variety of question categories like “What is” (Definitions), “When” (Event timings or reasons), “Why” (Reasons), “How” (Explanations of processes or mechanisms), “How to” (Application for a particular purpose), “Summary/Overview”, “Merits/Demerits”, “Compare and contrast” etc type questions.to do – give 1-2 examples for each of them.
- Write questions in the beginning part and answers in the end part of the flash notebook. Generally, we should use a combination of short and long-answer questions. Due to this reason, one cannot write questions and answers on different sides of the same page because answers will require many times more page space than questions. The best method would be then to write questions on one side of the notebook (from pages 1,2,3,4,…) and the answers from the reverse side of notebook (200,199,198,197,…), assuming 200 number of pages in the notebook. If the notebook lacks page number printed on each page, one will have no choice but to manually write page number. The most convenient method for this is to write (R1,R2,R3,R4,…) for the reverse side (R stands for reverse) instead of writing (200,199,198,197,…). This will be easy for our mind as one will keep on writing page numbers 1,2,3,4,… for questions in the beginning part of the flash notebook and keep on writing page numbers R1, R2, R3, R4, … for answers in the end part of the flash notebook as and when one puts more questions and answers in the flash notebook. So, there will be no botheration about writing all page numbers first before being able to create flash notes in the flash notebook.
- Alongside questions, give references to the page-numbers of answers in the flash notebook. Give reference to the page-number alongside each question where the answer to that question is so that when you read a question you know where its answer is and can refer to the answer whenever you need for both rereading as well as confirming the correctness of your recall.
- In case of high time-constraint, avoid writing answers and instead give references to the page-numbers of the actual book containing the answers. If one is creating flash-notes in a flash notebook and has very less time, then one need not write answers to the questions in the notebook and can instead put page-number and paragraph of the book where the answer is. So, if a question’s answer starts from page 100, paragraph 2 and ends at page 101, paragraph 3, one can simply note in the flash notebook that the answer to this question is in 100:2 to 101:3 of the book. If the answer starts as well as ends on page 80′s paragraph 1, then one can simply note in the flash notebook that the answer to this question is in 80:1 of the book. This crisp format of question and pointer to page & paragraph can be used in the actual book itself using a pencil, but, to make things neater and more organized, it is better to do it in the flash notebook itself. So, one will have to write only questions in the flash notebook which will solve the problem of time-constraint as writing answers is what consumes actual time in creating flash notes. But, this should be used only in case of high time-constraint as writing the answers once while creating flash notes actually helps in developing one’s writing (typing) habit - one will have to write (type in case of computer exams) in the exams unless and until it is a verbal interview. Writing the answers also help in memorizing and understanding concepts better as one needs to pay extra attention in order to write the answers.
- Note that rereading of answers in the flash notebook should also be done whenever needed. Recall should always be attempted first during revision. But, of course, during first-time learning, only after one rereads the answer to a question a couple of times, one can practise recall. And whenever one is not able to recall correctly, then also rereading the answer needs to be done again from the flash notebook. Thus, flash notebook should be used for both rereading as well as recall as per the need. If you are still confused about the difference between rereading and recall, here is a reminder. Rereading is done by looking at the source material (here at the answers of the questions). Whereas in recall, you try to remember (if it is a fact) or explain (if it is a concept) mentally, verbally or in writing, without looking at the source material and then look at the source material to verify how correctly you could remember the fact or explain the concept.
- Grade the questions as per the difficulty level. After you try to learn a fact or concept using the flash notes method, you should grade the questions as per the difficulty you faced in learning them. The grading can be done using 4-grade scale: easy, average, difficult and very difficult – put no mark for easy questions, use a single star (*) to mark average questions, two stars (**) for difficult questions and three stars (***) for very difficult questions. You can also grade the questions using 5-grade scale: easy, average, difficult, very difficult and extremely difficult - mark easy questions with 0/4 or E or nothing, mark average questions with 1/4 or D, difficult questions with 2/4 or C, very difficult questions with 3/4 or B and extremely difficult questions with 4/4 or A grade. In general, 4-grade scale will suffice for most of all, but in case, you feel you are better using 5-grade scale, you may use that also as your grading scheme. If you find it more positive, you may use “challenging” or “advanced” word in place of “difficult” word n your mind while doing such categorization.
- For more difficult questions, use additional mnemonic techniques and do extra practice of both rereading and recall. The reason is obvious – because they are more difficult, they require a greater amount of more intelligent efforts. Now, the only question that begs here a clear answer is: what do you mean by mnemonic techniques and how can one learn them? The answer is given below:
- (From Wikipedia) A mnemonic technique/device is a learning aid which helps to learn otherwise difficult-to-learn things relatively easily. Commonly, mnemonics are verbal—such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something—but may be visual (related to the process of seeing/viewing), kinesthetic (related to movements of the human body) or auditory (related to the process of hearing). Mnemonics rely on associations between easy-to-remember things which can be related back to the data that is to be remembered. This is based on the principle that the human mind much more easily remembers spatial (related to position/location in the space), personal, surprising, humorous or otherwise meaningful information than arbitrary sequences.
- You should learn various mnemonic techniques by buying and reading 2-3 good quality memory improvement books – you will learn all the principles of learning also apart from mnemonic techniques in such books. So, buy these books without bothering about money. Take loan from me if you want, but please do not make me sad by neglecting this extremely important suggestion for your intellectual growth: see, how much I am trying to help you by giving all details and reasonings behind each and every suggestion. And still if you throw these suggestions in the dustbin of indolence, I will never admire you for doing that. Got it! Okay, now let us move on to get more wisdom from this wise and witty old man, which is me hehe. I have tried my best to cover all these mnemonic techniques in the appendix part of this article, but even then buying 2-3 memory-improvement books is a must recommendation for everyone as there is no substitute for such important books. You are asking, “Why do I not tell you all the mnemonic techniques here itself? What was the use of putting them in a separate section?” Because, one does not need such mnemonic techniques for more than 10-20% of study materials. Whereas other techniques that I am describing for you here are so important that you can, you should and you must use them for all study materials. So, by giving all mnemonic techniques here, other more important and universally useful techniques will get overshadowed. And if I do that, that will simply mean I am a dumb writer (which I am definitely not) who does not know how to organize his writings. So, I will give all mnemonic techniques in a separate appendix section and not here.
- Develop your own mnemonic technique also whenever needed. Apart from the standard techniques given in these memory-improvement books and described in the appendix section of this article also, one can and should develop mnemonic techniques on one’s own also for difficult-to-remember facts. For example, when I was preparing for my theoretical exam for driver’s license, I had prepared 300 flash cards to cram various traffic rules and regulations and traffic signs. Now, please tell me how much I scored in this exam? I will give you 10 paisa for answering this correctly. Okay, I give you a hint: flash cards/notes rock! You got it: “I was able to answer all questions correctly and passed the exams with flying colors.” Since you answered it correctly, meet me and get your reward of 10 paisa – and yes, as per the advice of our great saints like Buddha, do not look at the quantity, but look at the grandness of feelings with which I am giving you this reward. But, like I said in the very beginning, for more difficult questions, I used additional mnemonic techniques and did extra practice of both reading and recall as per my own advice to you. For more difficult flash cards, I devised specific mnemonic techniques. I am mentioning two examples below (more will given in the appendix section at the end of the article) to make it 100% clear and convincing to you that we can and we should develop our own mnemonic techniques for difficult-to-remember facts:
- 1st example. “You should not park within … feet of a traffic intersection.” Answer was: 20 feet. Now, since I used to forget this and confuse this with 10, 12 or 15 feet many times, I developed the following mnemonic. An intersection is visually like a plus sign (+). A plus sign (+) has two rods, one vertical and one horizontal. So, the first digit is 2. And word ‘two’ has only one vowel ‘o’ which resembles 0. So, the second digit is 0. Thus, the required distance is 20 feet.
- 2nd example. “You should not park within … feet of a railway crossing.” Answer was 15 feet. Here also, I used to confuse 15 feet with sometimes 10 or 12 feet. So, I developed the following mnemonic. Word ‘rail’ has vowel i and i resembles 1. So, the first digit is 1. Now, in word ‘zero’ or ‘two’, ‘i’ vowel is not present, but in word ‘five’, ’i’ vowel is present. So, the second digit is 5 rather than 0 or 2. Thus, the required distance is 15 feet (and not 10 or 12 feet).
- Technical implementation of recall technique using review questions for broad understanding of study materials. Whenever one aims to develop full understanding and retention of the study materials, using flash notes/cards is an amazing idea. But, many times we want to just develop a broad understanding of the study materials. Such examples include newspaper editorials, magazine articles, etc. The best approach to do so will be practising recall technique using review questions in the following manner:
- Review questions can be created in terms of “Give a summary of this paragraph/section/article?; What is the central idea of this paragraph/section/article?; What reasonings does the author give?; Why should this idea be valid?; Why should this idea be invalid?; When should this idea work?; When should this idea not work?; Why and how does this idea work?; What objections can be raised against the reasonings given by the author?, etc.”
- Ask yourself a couple of review questions after reading every 1 or more paragraphs, the number of paragraphs depending upon to what extent you want to understand the material and to what extent you consider those paragraphs important for a broad understanding of the study material. Then, try to answer them without looking at the paragraphs and then look at those paragraphs to figure out how correctly you could answer the questions.
- Do the above for various topics covered in the entire study materials as well. For example, do the above for the entire editorial, article, etc. So, summarize the entire study materials by developing appropriate review questions for the entie materials and then answer them using recall. This way, you will develop a good, broad understanding of the study materials. For full understanding of all important concepts, you will have to create flash notes/cards as we have already explained above in the point “Technical implementation of recall technique through flash notes/cards for complete understanding of study materials.”
- To do – if you want to develop broad understanding of study materials with a bit more lasting retention in memory, you should also make crisp flash-notes of very important points using suitable questions like “What is” (Definitions), “How to” (Application for a particular purpose), “Summary/Overview” etc. type questions. Of course, this will be only crisp flash notes and not fully detailed flash notes as you aim for only broad retention of study materials for reference in future. This type of need arises more in professional life rather than student life. Though at the level of university level as well, this type of need may arise in many academic situations.
- Always use “learning by analysis and association” technique. to do
- Always use ”learning by application” technique. to do – expand
- Involve as many senses as possible in the learning process. to do – expand
- Do systematic revision of the study materials. Please do remember that there is nothing like a perfect memory system. Hence, systematic revision is quite indispensable for long-term retention of both factual as well as conceptual materials. The other reason for doing revision is: learning gets strengthened through repetition. So, with more revision, our conceptual clarity on the topics also gets more developed. Remember and practise the below instructions for a good quality revision:
- Study same materials multiple times. Various applications of this principle are:
- Reading one good book twice will give you more grasp of the concepts and memory of facts than reading two good books once each. Similarly doing one good problem twice will boost your conceptual clarity and memory of facts more than doing two good problems, once each. Always practise this, otherwise your efforts may go in drain despite all your sincerity.
- It is better to read the material to be covered in a class once before the actual class as well as possible. Then, during the class, it will be easy to understand the subject matter as it would be like revision.
- It is important to revise the lecture notes within 1-2 days at the maximum after the actual class is taken by teacher. Otherwise, we tend to forget lots of things, thus, making revision after a gap of many days becoming like first-time studies rather than revision.
- Develop proper weekly, monthly and even yearly revision plans for your study materials.
- Use a combination of rereading and recall. For that, create flash notes/cards when learning the materials first time and then use those notes/cards in combination with reading the actual book. We will give more details later on how to revise using flash notes/cards in this section.
- Always prefer spaced revision (revision over a long period) over cramped revision (revision over a short period). For example, if you have to revise a particular book for a particular exam and you need 100 hours to do that; then revising that book in 50 days before exam by giving 2 hours each day will produce better conceptual clarity and sound memory of facts rather than revising that book in 10 days before exam by giving 10 hours each day. There are two reasons behind this, both equally important:
- Better learning through more effective subconscious processing. Thinking process as well as memorizing process needs processing of facts and reasoning by our subconscious mind (Yes, it is ‘needs’ and not ‘need’. If you doubt, please revise subject-verb agreement chapter in your grammer book – hihi.) Subconscious mind works even during the waking state but during sleep, it works more and much better because our conscious mind is at rest, thus, making all mental energies available to our subconscious mind during sleep. So, subconscious mind will do better processing of facts and reasoning by getting, say, 50 days’ sleep period rather than say, just 10 days’ sleep period.
- More peace of mind and more likelihood of revising the study materials completely. During cramped revision, due to having less time, some anxiety is always present like what if I could not revise everything and some topics remained unrevised or inadequately revised. This anxiety leads to undue stress and may immensely harm the learning process by mind, which produces poor results in exams and makes one forget most things in long-term in contrast with spaced revision method, which does not produce these problems due to no stress problem. Spaced-revision also gives more time-buffer which makes the option of doing extra effort available to us in case our revision speed is not as desired. Revision done with a peaceful mind makes the entire learning of spaced revision long-term to our greatest benefits. Apart from this, cramped revision always has the potential of creating disaster when we are not able to revise completely and end up giving exams without complete revision. Thus, spaced revision rocks and cramped revision rocks you – so, always do spaced revision of the study materials as far as practically possible.
- Revise using flash notes/cards. We have already explained about flash notes/cards in above section. Here are detailed instructions on how to revise using flash notes/cards:
- Revision of study materials in a short period of time. For revision of study-materials in a short period of time, flash notes/cards are very easy to use and always preferable to the method of revising the study-materials from the book itself. Why? Because in a short period of time, how can you revise the entire book? And even if you are able to revise the entire book, will you be able to learn as precisely as you will learn from question-answer format of flash notes/cards? Real learning begins with questions. Really? Yes, really. “Why did the apple fall on the earth rather than away from the earth?” – so questioned Newton and we all know how much that apple helped the world because Newton was wise enough to ask questions and develop the answers for us in the form of his laws of motion which spurred industrial revolution. Why does it happen? Why does it not happen so? How does it happen? When should this idea be used? When should this idea not be used? Why, Why not, How, How not, When, When not, Where, Where not – ask questions, questions and questions??? And then seek the answer. If the answer is already there, try to find it and if it is not available, then try to develop it. This is what is learning. This is what is the essence of intellectual life which must be developed in us to a good extent for being considered true humans. Otherwise, instincts of fear, greed, lust and anger are present in even animals. But, unlike them, we have the faculty of self-awareness through which we can develop the intellect and purify the heart of all harmful instincts. And if we do not use this faculty, how good can we be considered as compared to animals? Errr! You feel lost about the topic! The topic is “revision of study materials in a short period of time” should be preferably done through flash notes/cards rather than the book. Actually, this article is much deeper than “study skills” word can convey. But, I had to use “study skills” word in the title of the topic to get the attention of student, parent and teacher community. But, there are much, much deeper messages throughout this article apart from concrete guidance on study skills. And the reader should sincerely grasp those messages and become a wise person with a developed intellect and purity of heart. Okay, now let us move to the next point.
- Revise the book also in combination with flash notes/cards whenever you get enough time. You need to revise the chapter from the book to get a complete picture of the study materials whenever you have enough time. The approach that we suggest for this revision is:
- When revising a chapter from the book, first try to answer all questions in the flash notes/cards to find out how much you can correctly recall the important facts and concepts now.
- Then reread the chapter from the book, paying extra attention to the topics whose facts or concepts you could not recall while revising flash notes/cards.
- And at the end, try to answer again various questions in the flash notes/cards to giving a finishing touch to your revision. This is a very comprehensive method of revising any chapter from the book.
- Suitable modification of the grades of the questions in flash notes/cards during revision. It is quite possible that during revision, you would like to modify the grades of the questions in your flash notes/cards. Modifying the grade is very easy to do provided you write the grades in the flash notebook using a pencil – it, then, is just a matter of erasing old grade and writing new grade (flash card software also gives the option of modifying the grade of a flash card). Changing grade should be done based on the difficulty that you face now with the questions – you may need to increase the grade of some questions, keep the grade same for other questions and decrease the grade of some questions.
- Adding more questions to flash notes/cards during revision. It is quite possible that during revision, you would like to add more questions to your flash notes/cards. Adding new questions and answers is a bit challenging in flash notebook – it is very easy when one uses flash card software like Anki. But, some solution has to be developed for those of us also who are using flash notes/cards in a flash notebook. Two solutions are described below – choose whichever you want:
- For every chapter of the book, leave 2-3 pages as “Extra Questions” in the question section and leave accordingly 5-10 pages in the answer section of your flash notebook for writing the answers to those extra questions. You will have to make a judgment on how many pages you should leave in question and answer sections for a particular chapter by considering criteria like how effectively you have been able to cover the facts and concepts of that chapter in your existing questions and how many more “extra questions” you should keep space for any future addition. In general, it would not be much because the first time itself, one will be able to cover almost all important questions and answers. If you follow this technique, you will be able to easily add more questions and answers in your flash notebook during revision if you really feel the need for them.
- Create new chapters titled “Chapter XYZ – Extra Questions”. to do?
- Create special flash notes/cards and add marks on the books for short period revision. Apart from detailed flash notes/cards, try to create some special flash notes/cards also for short period revision . If needed, you may also add marks on the books. The reason is: revision over a short period of time (say over 2-3 days) can be done only using special flash notes/cards and specifically marked sections in the book and NEVER by reading entire book from cover to cover or revising each and every question in flash notes/cards. Let us understand it better through an example. Suppose you are a student of class X. You have created a detailed flash notebook for each of your subjects as you have understood well that using flash notebook is the fastest and most long-lasting method of learning both factual as well as conceptual materials. For the sake of illustration, suppose you have around 500 questions and their answers in your flash notebook of geography. You find around 50 of them worth revising in the last 2 days before geography board exam. How to do this? We propose two strategies – pick whichever you find more suitable for you:
- Strategy 1. Mark the questions in the detailed flash notebook as special. In this approach, you mark these 50 questions with S (S stands for special questions for last few days’ revision) in the detailed flash notebook itself.
The other purpose, for which special flash notebook should be used, is to write important formula or reactions or other crisp facts/data which you want to revise in the last few hours or days before the exam.
- Strategy 2. Create a special flash notebook. This flash notebook should list those special 50 important questions that you feel you must revise thoroughly in last 2 days before your class X geography board exam. In fact, in one special flash notebook, you will be able to cover more than one subjects’ special questions for last few days’ revision. But, you need not write the answers in this special flash notebook as they are already written in the detailed flash notebook of the subject. So, what should you do? Very simple: write the questions in the special flash notebook and give the reference to the page numbers in the detailed flash notebook of geography where the answer to a particular question is given. Similarly, in other subjects also, one should create special flash notebooks having the most important and/or highly difficult questions for revision over last few days before the exam.
- Have a weekly revision routine as well as long-term revisions plans. Create and sincerely maintain a weekly revision routine in which you should revise the past subject-matter of last week as well as weeks and months before last week. Allow the time either on daily basis (like 1.5 hours every day as a revision session) or few days a week (like 1.5 hours every Monday and Thursday and 6 hours every Sunday) – develop and experiment with various weekly revision routines and then, follow whichever routine works best for you. But, do remember: you should revise your class notes once within at most 1-2 days after the class has been taken irrespective of what weekly revision routine you use for revising other study materials, otherwise you will forget most of the facts and concepts taught in your class and will end up finding the revision as more like first-time studies because of many days’ gap between class and revision of the class notes – that will be an extremely inefficient and unintelligent approach to revise classnotes and hence you must revise every class lecture once within at most 1-2 days after the class at all costs. Apart from weekly revision routines, one should also wisely develop and implement long-term revisions plans extending over many weeks or months (and even years if needed) for long-term learning of the study materials.
- Develop a very high level of intelligence (creative ability) through rigorous exercise of brain and other techniques. This develops new neural connections in our brain and hence, makes us capable of doing all mental tasks quite well be they thinking, visualization, imagination or learning. More details on this are given in next section.
- Daily practise thoughtless awareness meditation and other yoga techniques. Why? In order to have a good level of inner peace as stress decreases the memory power and hence, our learning ability very quickly and immensely. Why? Because stress releases harmful chemicals that kill the memory cells present in the hypothalamus region of the brain which is responsible for memorizing process (other regions in brain are also involved – actually, the mechanism of memory at brain level is still not very clear to researchers, but neuroscience accepts that memory cells in hypothalamus region do play a very important role and hence, should be protected from destruction done by stress). But, how will practising thoughtless awareness meditation and other yoga techniques on daily basis help me with a peaceful and one-pointed mind? Everything has been explained in my post on thoughtless awareness meditation and links given there. If you want everything in one place, wait for our GREAT book to get published in 2012 which will contain all self-help topics and important social and political principles for having a progressive world. Till then, use internet and get all details by searching my blog. So, if you want to search for posts on sleep in my blog (gopal4mission.wordpress.com), then in your search engine, type: sleep site:gopal4mission.wordpress.com. So, it is <query words> site:<sitename>. Easy – isn’t it? I wish, I could finish writing this GREAT book in 1 second and give 1 free copy to every person in this world. But, hmm! As they teach us in chemistry: real gases are not ideal gases. Real circumstances are not ideal circumstances. Why am I praising this as a GREAT book? Because, I will make it a GREAT book – I promise this to all those people who look for good guidance for self-improvement, but, unfortunately are unable to find it at the right time. This GREAT book will definitely reach into the hands of at least a few lakh people and help them with good guidance. Amen (Be it so)!
- Develop your concentration power by doing every work with full attention. to do – add more details on what is meant by every work and why should this help. This is because the more is one’s concentration level, the more all mental faculties of thinking, visualization, imagination and learning improves as entire mentally energy gets focussed on the tasks that mind is performing. You will find daily practice of thoughtless awareness meditation and other yoga techniques on daily basis extremely useful for developing your concentration level and hence, various mental faculties.
- Always study/work with straight and vertical spine as it helps with a high level of concentration, learning and all other mental processes due to a high level of mental energy. Use a table-chair for this as sitting on a chair keeps our spine straight and vertical in a very comfortable manner. Of course, it is fine to study for 10-15 min lying on the bed also when one is quite tired due to sitting straight for a long time or some other physical exhaustion, but this is an exception only because doing study lying on the bed is very inefficient and is a tempting invitation to untimely sleep both due to low level of mental energy. Sitting straight helps with a high level of mental energy due to many reasons:
The other benefit of sitting with a vertical, straight spine is that it puts less pressure on lower regions of spine and back muscles. Thus, we are able to study for a long period without feeling any physical discomfort or pain.
- Due to proper level of air pressure in lungs in a straight and vertical posture, the inhalation of air by lungs is quite good in quantity, whereas it is quite less in quantity when one lies on bed. This helps us in having more oxygenated blood in our brain, thus, providing us more mental energy. (Proper level of air pressure here means a sufficiently high pressure during exhalation and a subsequent low pressure in lungs during inhalation: air flows from high pressure to low pressure.)
- Nervous system works better with a straight and vertical posture of spine because the subtle paths for the flow of nerve currents are free from any blockage in this posture. Thus, overall alertness of even body is quite good in this posture apart from a high level of mental alertness. So, our brain gets a better flow of nerve currents, leading to a high level of mental energy. Please note that our brain can increase the inflow of both nerve currents and oxygenated blood whenever it requires extra mental energy for some tasks. The straight and vertical posture helps in this natural activity of brain during studies by providing blockage free paths in the nervous system.
- Take healthy, balanced diet on daily basis and fully avoid intoxicants like alcohol, tobacco products and various junk food.
- Take good care of your physical and mental health by using healthy habits and a proper daily routine.
We are done with this section. Before moving to the next section, let us drink a glass of water (or lemonade or fruit juice, but NOT a glass of beer or wine or wisky because alcohol is injurious to health and also, because our ancestors monkeys consider us fallen children of monkey-race whenever they find us drinking alcohol without any health benefits just because advertisements say so or others do so – and it is not good to hurt our ancestors, is it?) And then, let us develop the list of those 10 people whom we will give this article to read so that each one of us can grab at least “10 Thank You” for ourself and get the satisfaction of sharing the-state-of-the-art collection of study skills with others. “Gurrr!!! Again enjoying the shameless art of self-praise!” Okay, okay! Don’t get angry! I retract my words a little bit. So, now it is: please get the satisfaction of sharing this good collection of study skills with others – they will really like and respect you for doing this. Now, let us move to the next section. Bye-bye to this section - see you again in future very soon.
What is meant by a genius? Genius means one who is able to produce enormous creative results in one’s creative field of work, whatever this creative field may be. Thus, each and every creative field has its geniuses just like each and every destructive field has got its fools and nuts. Examples of geniuses are present in every creative field. For example, A. R. Rehman is a genius musician. Einstein is a genius physicist. Terence Tao is a genius mathematician. Amir Khan is a genius actor. Michelangelo was a genius sculptor. Picasso was a genius painter. Baba Ramdev is a genius yoga-teacher. I am a genius writer. Errr! Please take it easy – the last sentence was just a joke. I read somewhere that one should use sense of humor during communication. So, this was just a humble attempt at that – hope, it did not anger you that much. In case it did, please take 20 deep inhalations and exhalations or have a walk for 15-20 minutes till you become cool and calm like this wise, old man which is me. Just kidding! So, a genius is a person of enormous creativity in one’s creative field of work.
What makes one a genius? Thomas Alva Edison, a great American scientist and inventor who gave us the first commercial electric bulb and other 1000+ inventions, said: “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” Edison’s statement may seem like his modesty, which it definitely is. But, it is also a statement of truth. Swami Vivekananda also remarked in the same vein: “Have you not seen what makes the difference between one man and another? It is their past. The past habits make one man a genius and another man a fool. You may have the power of the past and can succeed in five minutes, whereas the other may struggle for a long time without any success.”
So, if the past makes one person a genius and another person a fool, what does a genius do in his/her past which made a genius out of him/her now? A good question indeed! I have tried my best to cover most of the things in this article/post which are needed for developing a genius level of creativity in our chosen field of work. If one can maintain complete brahmacharya (celibacy) for 12 years and follow all the techniques and insights given in this article/post, one will definitely become a genius in one’s chosen field of work. Let us make this a world of pure-hearted geniuses rather than a world of dimwits and impure-hearted crooks. Sounds like a good idea! Okay, then let us work for this.
Now, let us come to the topic of how to develop a very high level of intelligence (creative ability). In addition to the universal recommendation of practising brahmacharya (celibacy) throughout student life, on which already a detailed, separate section has been written above, the following ideas and techniques are strongly suggested in order to develop a very high level of intelligence (creative ability):
- Develop a lifelong attitude of positive thinking
- Embrace the diversity of human creativity and compete only with your own potential. to do
- Develop extremely good management skills in fundamental areas of life, namely time management, goal setting, project management, communication skill, relationship management and emotion management. Also keep on developing your management skills in specific areas as well whenever needed. to do
- Exercise the brain to the maximum possible extent. The more one exercises the brain, the sharper it becomes. It is true for all mental processes like thinking, visualization, imagination and learning. So, exercise the brain with a joyous attitude and you will grow in intelligence steadily. Specific suggestions on this rule are as follows:
- Always follow “3 day rule” for solving problems given in books and class assignments as well as to learn new concepts. This rule has the following components:
- Try to solve each of these problem at least 3 days (even in the worst type of time-constraint, try at least 2 days, but at least 3 days is our real recommendation in all situations). On the first day, if the problem does not get solved, put a mark of 1 or * with a pencil (to denote 1st day attempt done) for it. Then, try it some other day when you find time. If it does not get solved even that day, erase the mark 1 or * and put instead the mark 2 or ** with pencil (to denote 2nd day attempt also done). Then, try it again some other day when you find time. If it does not get solved even that day, erase the mark 2 or ** and put instead the mark 3 or *** with pencil (to denote 3rd day attempt also done). Now, start looking for just a little hint from friends/teachers and try to solve it again once with that hint. Do not think that solving a problem after getting some hint is not meaningful. It is definitely more meaningful in the growth of intelligence than directly getting complete solution or full hints. So, try to get only a little hint so that you can try once more to deduce the solution with the help of that little hint. If then also the problem does not get solved, then look for more hints or complete solution. In this approach, you are trying to solve your problem on your own with 3 fully fresh attempts over at least 3 days, accompanied with at least 2 days’ subconscious efforts during sleep period. (On whatever topic our conscious mind attentively thinks, our subconscious mind also starts thinking over that. Though subconscious mind works during even waking time, it works much better during night sleep as conscious mind is at rest and all our mental energies are available to subconscious mind. If the subconscious mind is able to solve the problem, then the solution finally comes to conscious mind during dreams or waking time all of a sudden as a flash of intuition). Thus, you are doing a very strong exercise of your brain for solving every problem – this will increase your thinking power tremendously. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer,” so said the great physicst Albert Einstein. Of course, this statement shows his modesty. But, it also shows the approach which creates a very high level of intelligence. So, follow Einstein’s wise example and stay longer with the problem as suggested above. This will significantly develop your ability to solve problems and, thus, will vastly improve your intelligence level.
- One should follow “3 day rule” for understanding new concepts also. Try to understand new concepts for at least 3 days on your own (at least 2 days in even the worst type of time-constraint). If that does not work, only then take a little hint from your friends/teachers and then try again to understand that concept using the help of the hint. If that also does not work, then only try to get complete hints from your friends. This will significantly develop your ability to grasp new concepts and, thus, will vastly improve your intelligence level. Of course, the practice of recall, i.e., explaining the concepts mentally, verbally or in writing without looking at the source material, is another thing which you should do in addition to this rule in order to strongly develop your concept learning ability.
- In the long-run you gain a lot from “3 day rule”, even if, in the short run, you find less speedy progress. In the beginning, your speed of doing homework/assignment or reading a book may decrease a bit by giving at least 3 days’ effort in solving every problem and understanding every concept, but in the long run, as your thinking ability gets more and more developed due to continuous use of this technique, your ability to solve problems and understand new concepts faster will increase automatically. So, in the long run, you will find exceptional benefits by using “3 day rule”.
- Categorize the problems into 4 levels. Please write down the categories of all these problems in the book or a notebook using categories like average (1/4), good (2/4), excellent (3/4), exceptional (4/4). Easy (0/4) means “could solve first day itself without any difficulty”; average (1/4) means “could solve first day itself after some difficulty”; good (2/4) means “could solve only after 2-3 days’ attempts”; excellent (3/4) means “could not solve even after 2-3 days’ attempts, but was able to solve after getting some hint from others”; and exceptional (4/4) means “could not solve even after getting hint from others and had to get a complete solution from others.” You may use other 4-level grading scale also like A/B/C/D (or anything which you can creatively design) depending on whatever you find more pleasant to use. It is not a must to do this categorization for concepts as you will be using flash notes/cards which already will use suitable grading scales on all questions created out of the important facts and concepts of a chapter, but if you feel that this categorization may give an additional information on how a particular concept overall is for you in terms of its complexity, feel free to do categorization for the concepts as well.
- Create flash notes in some flash notebook for important and challenging problems. In this flash notebook (or equivalently in some computer document where questions are written in the beginning pages and the solutions are given in the end pages), you should write the problems and their solutions on different pages – use the same scheme which we already discussed in previous section for the purpose of learning factual and conceptual materials. Instead of complete solutions, you can give some hints for the problem. This will make you more confident as you will have the hints to use in case you are not able to solve some extremely challening problems properly even during revision.
- Develop the revision strategy based on the category level of the problems. No need to revise/redo easy (0/4) problems. But, revise/redo average (1/4) problems at least once; and revise good (2/4), excellent (3/4) or exceptional (4/4) problems at least 2 times. This is the ideal method of revision for problems which are basically exercises involving applications of facts and concepts. But, for revising important facts and concepts, using flash notes/cards is the ideal method of revision as we discussed in the previous section”III. How to make our learning faster and more long-term for both factual and conceptual materials?”
- Consider all conceptual or logical problems as new problems when solving them during revision. Do remember and practise this without fail. So, solve every conceptual or logical problem during revision as if you have seen this problem first time in life. Even if the solution comes automatically to your mind after seeing the problem despite no effort on your part to recall it, ask questions such as “Why does this approach make sense?”, “Why may this solution work?”, “Can some other approach be used?”, etc and try to logically answer them. In the case of automatic recall of the solution, try your best to develop solution using other methods also to exercise your brain more rigorously as well as to develop your conceptual thinking even better. But, in no case, make any conscious effort to recall how the problem got solved first time because of below two reasons:
Thus, in all situations, trying to recall solution for conceptual/logical problems is disastrous for our thinking ability. So, never, never and never commit this foolish mistake which severely retards one’s thinking ability.
- Even if you succeed in recalling the solution correctly, it won’t develop your thinking ability because the less you exercise your thinking ability, the less your thinking ability becomes and the more you exercise it, the better it becomes.
- If you don’t succeed in recalling the solution correctly, it will be simply dissipation of mental energy and development of a bad habit of using memory rather than thinking ability in solving even logical/conceptual problems.
- Develop and apply your own version of “3 day rule” for more advanced problems and concepts during university education. to do – explain more and answer why and how.
- Study advanced materials. In order to develop a very high level of intelligence, one should study as much advanced materials as possible, in accordance with one’s present level of skills, areas of interests and self-motivation. Such materials can be either from advanced classes or from the preparation materials for challenging competitions. In this matter, one should never foolishly compare oneself with others and raise stupid questions like “Why should I study this advanced material when others are not doing so?” Considering this “the more I exercise my brain, the higher will be my intelligence level” as an absolute rule, one should study advanced materials even if it involves taking extra tuition or help from senior students or teachers. Of course, as we said in the very beginning, the manner in which one can apply this extremely important rule will depend upon one’s present level of skills, areas of interests and self-motivation, but as much as practically possible, one is strongly advised to implement this extremely important rule in order to develop a very high level of intelligence in our desired field of creative work.
- Do extra projects. Such projects can be done during vacations or by putting in more efforts even during times when normal classes are also running. One can partner with senior students or take the help of teachers or specific institutions for doing these projects. These projects give us a golden opportunity to explore various areas of interest broadly as well as to explore few areas of interest in good depth. This rule is also very useful in developing a very high level of intelligence in our desired field of creative work.
- Solve reasoning problems as a fun activity. Such exercises include verbal analogy, visual puzzles, logical puzzles, sudoku, etc. (Sudoku is a number puzzle in which numbers must be fit into a 9×9 grid such that each numeral appears exactly once in each row, column and each of nine 3×3 blocks.) Students should buy a couple of reasoning books and solve these reasoning problems as fun. This will definitely improve their reasoning power which is an important component of intelligence (creative ability). Even adults can solve puzzles, sudoku, etc. put in various newspaper and magazine as a fun activity.
- Practise recall technique for learning concepts. As we already explained in previous section “III. How to make our learning faster and more long-term for both factual and conceptual materials?”, recall technique for learning concepts is used by trying to explain the concepts mentally, verbally or in writing without looking at the source material and then, by verifying the correctness of one’s recall by looking at the source material. The recall technique for learning concepts is also used by asking various review questions such as “How does this process work?”, “Why does this phenomenon happen?”, “When is this method applicable?”, etc. and then, asnwering them as well as possible and then verifying the correctness of our answers by rereading the source material.
- Develop a good breadth of knowledge of both factual as well as conceptual materials in your areas of interest as well as in even areas slightly related to your areas of interest. The more knowledge we have, the more our mind becomes capable of doing permutation and combination of various ideas to generate relatively new ideas or applying ideas from other field into our present field of work. Having a vast amount of knowledge also makes our mind open to huge leaps of creative imaginations and intuitions. All this significantly improves our creative thinking. It is, indeed, utter foolishness to think that intelligence is totally unrelated to memory. Intelligence functions much better with a better quality of memory. Hence, everything that we suggested you in the previous section on “III. How to make our learning faster and more long-term for both factual and conceptual materials?” is equally important for developing a very high level of intelligence as well. to do – projects, advanced materialm, friends, senior people, the wise as well as the fool, books, journals, videos, websites, etc. about one’s particular field of work
- Do whole-brain and mathematically precise thinking by using various visual and mathematical techniques. Such techniques include mental visualizations, diagrams, flow charts, concept maps, decision tree, regression analysis etc. These techniques simplifies many complex concepts and processes as well as extracts many important insights from a big heap of facts, thereby, immensely enhancing our conceptual understanding and greatly aiding our thinking process. Of course, one does not need to use all types of tools in every type of work. For students visual techniques are enough most of the times. For researchers and high-tech professionals, visual as well as mathematical techniques are required most of the times. These techniques cannot be covered in an article/post, hence, I am leaving the description of these techniques. You can and you should gradually learn these techniques with time from proper books. Some of these techniques, particularly mathematical ones, are of little use beyond specific high-tech professions or research fields. But, I have no objection in giving you a crisp definition of some of the visual techniques below (in the GREAT book to be published in 2012, I will surely give full details on all important visual techniques and some of the more commonly used mathematical techniques as well):
- Mental visualization. This means to picture a concept or a process in the mind’s eyes. It is very helpful for a better conceptual understanding and more improved thinking because it invokes the faculties of right-side of brain and also because it harnesses the powers of subconscious mind more effectively. Please note that the subconscious mind understands the visual (picture-based) language more than verbal language. That’s why kids’ books use lots of pictures (like A for Apple, B for Bananas, etc) and that’s why we remember an incident for a much longer time and more vividly if we see it directly or on television or through pictures as compared to when we hear it from others or read about it in a newspaper. The prime reason behind the subconscious mind understanding the visual language better than verbal language even now is explained as a result of evolutionary effects of earlier humans’ experiences. Just like our monkey ancestors, we, humans, used visual language for communication for lakhs of years before the verbal languages were developed by us few thousand years ago unlike our monkey ancestors. Sorry, respected monkeys, our dear ancestors. Please do not get hurt or offended over my words. I do not mean to insult your intelligence. On the whole, you monkeys are always more intelligent than humans because unlike us, you never smoke, gamble, drink and dance in a club. Unlike humans, no monkey marries a third wife at sixty. No monkey takes another monkey’s life with a gun or knife or atom bomb. So, where is the question of then considering humans more intelligent than you, respected monkeys? Got it! To sum up: subconscious mind understands visual language better then verban language because of this evolutionarty effect of visual language being used by humans for a much longer time than verbal langauage. Thus, mental visualization enhances whole-brain thinking by (a) involving even the right brain in the thinking process and (b) aiding the subconscious thinking and, hence, immensely enhances our creative thinking.
- Diagram. A diagram is a diagram, just like a book is a book and a rasgulla is a rasgulla. Sorry for reminding you of rasgulla - please do not go to the sweet shop just now to eat some. Fine! Let us understand this diagram thing. Gurrr! So, I will have to explain even such a simple thing. Okay! As I have taken upon this gigantic task of mentoring the kids of the world (and their parents also to some extent), I will surely explain it, but only crisply. Taken from wikipedia: “A diagram is a two-dimensional geometric symbolic representation of information according to some visualization technique. Sometimes, the technique uses a three-dimensional visualization which is then projected onto the two-dimensional surface. The word graph is sometimes used as a synonym for diagram.”
- Flow chart. Again taken from wikipedia (After all, why should I spend precious energy in doing something which has already been done by some smart person?): “A flowchart is a common type of diagram, that represents an algorithm or process, showing the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting these with arrows. This diagrammatic representation can give a step-by-step solution to a given problem. Data is represented in these boxes, and arrows connecting them represent flow / direction of flow of data. Flowcharts are used in analyzing, designing, documenting or managing a process or program in various fields.”
- Concept map. Again taken from … you got it: ‘A concept map is a diagram showing the relationships among concepts. They are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. Concepts, usually represented as boxes or circles, are connected with labeled arrows in a downward-branching hierarchical structure. The relationship between concepts can be articulated in linking phrases such as “gives rise to”, “results in”, “is required by,” or “contributes to”. The technique for visualizing these relationships among different concepts is called “Concept mapping”.’ Oh, no! Now, you are asking me what is meant by concepts? It is like asking your history teacher “Who is Hitlar?” after he has already finished the chapter on the 2nd World War. Never mind! I am a good teacher. I will explain you this: “A concept is a unit of knowledge having its own individual meaning, but also related to other units of knowledge. These other units of knowledge are called the characteristics of the concept.” For example, “study skill” is a concept. It has its own meaning (which you can easily understand), but it is also related to concepts of skill, learning and approaches to learning as its characteristics. Thus, every idea (and also every mental symbol) is a concept. Got it, now!
- Courageously ask questions and sincerely seek their answers. This questioning spirit is an essential part of scientific temperament. It is indispensable for developing a very intelligent mind and living life wisely. This principle needs to be implemented in all possible dimensions of life:
- Honest self-analysis on a regular basis. Before asking questions about the world and others, we should ask questions about ourselves.
- Experiment rigorously with an open, humble mind. One should have a scientific temperament. It means one should ask questions and experiment rigorously before deducing final conclusions. One should inculcate this rigorous, open-minded experimentation approach in oneself as an integral tenet of true learning spirit. This also necessitates one to be open towards the possibility of the experimental results contradicting one’s deeply seated beliefs in which case one should show the moral courage to accept the new and discard the old or at least, become open towards the possibility of new, experimentally proven ideas being better and more accurate than one’s old ideas. This is a fact of life that the less open-minded one is, the more stupid one becomes. Any kind of narrowness is always the sign of intellectual retardation and moral degradation. Even the lack of willingness to experiment with new ideas is a sign of lack of open-minded nature only. Just like rain-water gets deposited in low ground, similarly wisdom accumulates only in a humble mind. So, in order to become a very intelligent person, one should develop a permanent habit of experimenting rigorously with an open, humble mind.
- Understand and use the power of initiative. to do – add the important of initiative for a creative life.
- Understand and use the science of intuition. Intuition is a sudden revelation in mind that generates a new idea or a new way of looking at an existing idea. The science of intuition should be fully understood and extensively used by all of us in order to develop a very high level of intelligence in our chosen field of creative work because intuition is the goldmine of the highest creative ideas produced in each and every field of human endeavor, be it science, technology, literature, art, music, painting, acting, politics or social leadership. I can give only central concepts related to the science of intuition because this is a blog post and not a book . The central concepts of the science of intuition are (all concepts of this science cannot be explained using logic as intuition itself is a little bit beyond logic, still I will explain as much reasoning behind these concepts as practically possible):
- Intuition dawns all of a sudden and in a relaxed state of mind. It comes all of a sudden and often at the times when one is not even thinking about that problem and is just relaxing or doing some light work like having a walk or taking bath. One example: Einstein used to get lots of intuitive ideas in his field of physics during playing violin, walk or bath. Another example: while taking a bath, Greek scientist Archimedes discovered the principle of buoyancy which states: “Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.” Almost all these intuitive ideas have come like this only to the pioneers of every field. Sometimes the intuition may dawn during dreams also, but, mostly it happens when the problem is very visual. For example, German chemist Friedrich August Kekule got the idea of the benzene molecule having a ring strucutre in his dream. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail. This vision, he said, came to him after years of studying the nature of carbon-carbon bonds.
- The field of intuition is same as the field of background knowledge and past thinking. This means if one has been using one’s mind in solving the problem of politics like Mahatma Gandhi, one cannot get intuition about mathematics. So, a scientist’s intuition will function in the field of science, a social worker’s intuition will function in the field of social work, a musician’s intuition will function in the field of music, so on and so forth.
- Intuition works better with more breadth of knowledge. We have already explained the reasons above while discussing this rule: “Develop a good breadth of knowledge of both factual as well as conceptual materials in your areas of interest as well as in even areas slightly related to your areas of interest.”
- Intuition gets developed with time. Often the first few intuitive ideas in any new field take enormous amount of time and effort. But, once the first few breakthrough ideas are generated through intuition, then subsequent intuitive flashes start coming faster and with relatively less efforts. This is the experience of every pioneer in each and every field.
- Intuition develops more with whole-brain thinking. Medical science says that left and right hemispheres of our brain do different types of mental work. The left-brain is associated with logical thinking, sequential or linear thinking, analysis of data, looking at parts or details, etc. whereas the right-brain is associated with lateral/non-sequential thinking, imaginations (making guesses based on intuition or hunches), visual understanding (using pictures), using emotions and various senses of touch, smell, vision, hearing & taste, finding the central idea out of detailed data, looking at the big picture, etc. The intuition works better with whole-brain thinking as new creative ideas need both analysis as well as synthesis, looking at details as well as finding out the central idea or the big picture, logical thinking as well as imaginations.
- Intuition dawns after one exhausts one’s thinking process to the farthest possible limit. There is a saying in English: “God helps those who help themselves.” Intuition does not dawn in the mind on an indolent person. It does not come cheap. Even if the subsequent intuitive ideas may get generated with less efforts, the first few intuitive ideas in any new field or category of work often dawn only after one exhausts one’s thinking process to the farthest possible limit. If subsequent intuitive ideas in that field or category of work get generated with less efforts, the reason is nothing but the evolution of the intuitive faculty in the person in that field or category of work through the intense thinking process applied during the generation of the first few intuitive ideas.
- Intuition does not always give complete or even accurate results. Intuition is not guaranteed to always give complete or even accurate results. Sometimes one does get complete results, but most of the times, one gets just a single thread of 1-2 ideas using which one generates more detailed ideas through rigorous thinking. Sometimes intuition may be wrong also. It happens whenever one gets too stressed over the problem – in this situation, the subconscious mind generates false intuition for temporarily releasing the stress. True intuitive ideas do get generated only by using one’s thinking process to the farthest possible limit and yet keeping the mind highly relaxed. Thus, we see that stress disrupts not just memory power, concentration level and thinking ability but also intuitive faculty. Hence, one should always keep cool in order to develop a highly intelligent mind.
- Intuitive ideas dawn sometimes together and sometimes in a sequential chain over few hours or days. Hence, the recommendation is to always keep an idea notebook like great scientist and inventor Thomad Alva Edison used to do. Keep on writing all the ideas in that notebook that dawn in the mind. Since intuition does not always give complete results, one will be able to use the list of these ideas properly and with extra thinking, develop the complete picture. So, keeping such a notebook becomes very important for using intuition well for our creative work. One can keep even more than one idea notebooks for different categories of work. In today’s digital age, those who have computer, can use various documents rather than notebooks for storing these ideas, but they should also make backup copies of these documents using external memory or external server so that in case of any loss of actual data through computer crash or accidents, the backup data can be used to retrieve all the ideas. Actually, this backup is requried for idea notebooks also.
- Intuitive ideas are often original for that person, but may not always be so for others. This is just a simple fact about which one cannot do anything. Due to this reason, many times scientists discover results already discovered by other scientists. The same thing happens in every other field as well.
- Intuitive ideas need not be the best ones. The quality of intuitive ideas depend upon so many factors already discussed above like the breadth of one’s knowledge, the degree of rigorous thinking over that problem, relaxation of mind, etc. So, one person’s intuitive ideas may be the best ones in his/her own reference frame, but considering others’ ideas as well, they need not be better than some other person’s ideas. So, sufficient humility and openness must be maintained by everyone regarding one’s intuitive ideas.
- Intuitive ideas need to be supplemented with field-specific important skills and abilities for their successful fruition. For example, a social worker like Mahatma Gandhi did get the intuitive idea of civil disobedience, but that idea could got successully implemented only due to his additional skills and abilities like communication skills, emotional strength, organizational skills, etc. Similarly, even when Einstein had the intuitive idea all of a sudden that the speed of light is constant in all reference frames, that intuitive idea could give a final shape to his theory of relativity only due to his extremely high level of mathematical ability. This rule – intuitive ideas need to be supplemented with field-specific important skills and abilities for their successful fruition – applies in all fields and must be understood well by us if we want to do highly creative work in our chosen field.
- Yoga helps in intuition. to do
- Be a humble lifelong student. It is rightly said: “A foolish person’s student life never begins; and a wise person’s student life never ends.” The day one stops one’s student life is the day one dies as a wise person and gets reborn as a fool, ready to suffer from all kind of self-created miseries. The ability to do honest self-criticism and give undivided attention to self-improvement is what differentiates a wise person from an idiot, a mature institution from a dysfunctional institution and a shining nation from a sinking nation. And we must develop this ability in full measure if we want to rise high as individuals, as institutions or as nations. We must be ever willing to experiment and learn. We must believe in our endless potential to evolve and improve our hearts and minds. We must be willing to learn from the children, the young and the old alike. We must learn from humans, animals and also from those who have made themselves even worse than animals through their insensitivity, indolence and crude selfishness. Learning through one’s own experience only is the sign of an unwise student, whereas learning from others’ experiences also is the sign of a wise student. Hence, in order to become a wise, lifelong student, we should regularly read biographies of great men and women and keep on taking suggestions from experienced, wise people before making any important decisions or plans. Having a good reading habit is an indispensable part of being a lifelong student. One should regularly learn from everyone who can teach us something, friends, senior people, the wise as well as the fool, books, journals, videos, websites, etc. about one’s particular field of work as well as about basic life-management principles and techniques on time-management, study skills, motivation management, mentoring skills, family management, etc. Thus, inculcating the attitude of “a humble, lifelong student” in our character is indispensable to develop a very high level of creativity as well as maturity.
- Develop intelligent decision-making skills. The instructions for doing so are as follows:
- Develop a team of trusted and knowledgeable people to help you in decision-making process. Even ordinary pieces of glass sparkle with resplendent light when they are put near a diamond. A fool will also grow wise with time if he continuously keeps the company of the wise. No mind, however developed, can analyze an issue from all possible angles due to the natural limitation of an individual mind. There is always a scope for further refinement of one’s ideas and strategies which can be greatly realized by developing a team of trusted and knowledgeable people to help you in decision-making process. How to discover such wise people in one’s circle of friends and relatives? We suggest you very simple criteria to do this:
- A wise person is one who is humble enough to admit one’s mistakes and failures and take corrective measures. So, if you find anyone always or most of the times rationalizing one’s mistakes and failures and seldom owning any responsibility for one’s actions and results, then know that such a person is not wise and must not be included by you in your team of advisors.
- A wise person is very conscious of how he/she uses his/her time and is highly motivated to give his/her best to life. So, only people with good time-management skills and high self-motivation should be included in your team of advisors.
- A wise person regulates his/her sense desires as he/she is aware how much pain and misery unregulated, wild-running senses can cause to anyone by generating various physical diseases and mental weaknesses.
- A wise person believes in being over-prepared rather than being under-prepared, doing extra-planning rather than doing little planning and then repenting later, doing extra thinking rather than settling for less rigorous thinking, and in being relaxed and confident about the future while giving one’s best to the present.
- A wise person is a successful parent. Everyone wants to do well to one’s children. Those who cannot fulfill this universal desire and duty need not be considered wise and must not be included in your team of advisers.
- Build a broad knowledge base and skill set. Even for having more ideas and choices in decision-making process, one’s level of knowledge and skills play a huge role. And the more ideas and choices we will have, the more will be the chance of some of them being intelligent enough for our purpose.
- Always have proper backup plans to deal with failures of your main plans. Planning requires many thing. But, one critical thing which most people forget to their own peril is not having proper backup plans. In such a case, the proverb “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” proves to be cruelly true. Optimism is a good thing, but life has many twists and turns. Our decisions must include proper backup plans to which we can revert in case our main plans fail to produce the desired results.
- Gather adequate information on all aspects related to your decision-making issue through books, magazines, internet and personal talk with knowledgeable persons. Information never hurts. Repentance is the bitter fruit that is abundantly produced by the tree of ill-informed decisions. So, any laziness in gathering information will produce poisonous results eventually. Hence, make all possible efforts for this purpose.
- Take the final decision through proper analysis of all ideas.
- Create a matrix of all ideas with their individual merits and demerits. Formally ask the questions on every idea: (1) What are the merits of this idea? (2) What are the demerits of this idea? (3) What are the possible “ifs and buts” of this idea? (4) What needs to be modified in this idea in order to improve it further? (5) What other idea can be equally or more useful? Answer these 5 questions on all the ideas. When asked formally and when answered in writing, this process helps the thinking process a lot and generates the most useful idea to solve your particular problem or to plan properly for a particular purpose.
- Compare the relative merits and demerits of various ideas with one another and keeping in mind your goals and personal constraints of time, finance or other resources, pick top 3-5 ideas. Have the clear reason for preferring one idea over the other.
- Now, discuss your matrix of all ideas as well as your constraints and your own preliminary conclusions on top 3-5 ideas with your team of advisors. After doing a good amount of discussion with them as well as all with those people who will be affected by your decision (like some of your family members or friends), take the decision eventually.
- Please note that it is quite possible you will need to use various visual or mathematical techniques for doing this analysis of all ideas. If you or your team of advisors do not know those techniques, you should learn them from good books or internet and even hire the services of professionals for this purpose. As far as possible, our ideas should be practical, mature and mathematically precise. Only then, we can have superb success in our decision-making process
- Introduce suitable modifications in your original decision with the changes in the circumstances. Here, your backup plans and adequate information gathering will immensely help you. Here also, you should use a process similar to the ones described in the points “Gather adequate information on all aspects related to your decision-making issue through books, magazines, internet and personal talk with knowledgeable persons” and “Take the final decision through proper analysis of all ideas.”
- Always prefer team-mode decision-making over individual decision-making as far as practically possible. Then, the final decision will be more intelligent and faultless. It is rightly said, “TEAM means Together Everyone Achieves More”. It is not always possible or even necessary to do team-mode decision-making, but doing information gathering on all aspects related to your decision-making issue through books, magazines, internet and personal talk with knowledgeable persons and then taking the final decision only after proper analysis of all ideas is quite indispensable in order to do intelligent decision-making. Still, as individual decisions are prone to mistakes due to personal weaknesses or immaturity, so whenever possible and needed, one should always prefer team-mode decision-making over individual decision-making as far as practically possible. Even, mathematically, team-mode decision-making can be shown to be more accurate and intelligent than individual decision-making. How? This question is a direct invitation to the geek in me! The explanation is given below using a very simple application of probability theory:
- If there are n sincere and humble people (both sincerity and humility are required for team work) in a team and the average probability to find a flaw/demerit during brainstorming on an idea/strategy for each of n persons is p (where p < 1 because many flaws/demerits are too subtle to be guaranteed discovery by a person), then the probability that the team will detect a particular flaw/demerit isf(n) = 1 – (1-p)^n.Why? Because, at least one team-member should discover the flaw/demerit for the team to find that flaw/demerit and the probability that no one discovers = (1-p)^n.So, the probability that at least one person discovers the flaw/demerit = 1 – (1-p)^n. Got it! What is this ^ symbole? It is the symbol of power used in computer. So, 2^1 = 2, 2^2 = 4, 2^3 = 8, 2^4 = 32, 2^5= 64.Now, suppose p = 1/4 (25%) which means the average probability for a person in a team to find any flaw/demerit in an idea/strategy is 25%.So, f(n) = 1-(3/4)^n where n is the number of sincere and humble people in the team. Please note that in the presence of insincere or arrogant people, the mathematical model becomes much more complex than this. So, I am taking only a simple case of all team members being sincere and humble for the sake of better understanding.f(1) = 25% – so, the probability of 1-member team to find an existing flaw/demerit in an idea/strategy is just 25%.f(2) = 43.75% – so, the probability of 2-member team to find an existing flaw/demerit in an idea/strategy is 43.75%.f(3) = 57.82%f(4) = 68.34%f(5) = 76.27%f(6) = 82.2%f(7) = 86.65%f(8) = 89.99%f(9) = 92.49%f(10) = 94.37%Thus, we see the probability of any existing flaw/demerit getting found out increases with the increase in the number of sincere and humble people in a team. In our example, for a 1-member team, it is just 25% whereas for a 10-member, it is 94.37%. But, the obvious problem is – within a given time-constraint, we have to arrive at the conclusion to get started on a task/project and the more the number of people taking decision, the more time-taking the decision-making process will become.So, we have two optimization goals:
1. Make the idea/strategy as flawless as possible – the more the size of team, the more this goal is realized.2. Finish the brain-storming and decision-making in the available time – the more the size of team, the more difficult it is to realize this goal.So, to optimize between two mutually contradicting optimization goals, we should do the following:
For example, if the actual decision-making team has 5 people (based on factors like time-constraints, knowledge level, skills, etc); let the feedback from other 10-20 knowledgeable people also be taken even if they are not part of the final decision-making process. Thus, we see even mathematics suggest us the same as this wise, old man (which is me): always prefer team-mode decision-making over individual decision-making as far as practically possible.
- Limit the team-size for decision-making and brain-storming as per the time-constraint.
- But, take the feedback from as many people as possible to improve the idea/strategy.
- Learn and use various problem-solving and other creative techniques of your particular field. to do – add more from ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_solving
- Develop a skillful, helping nature.
- Daily practise thoughtless awareness meditation and other yoga techniques. Why? Because, it gives you a peaceful, one-pointed mind. It also saves your mental energy from getting dissipated in useless anxieties, worries, anger and frustrations and improve your faculties of creative imagination and intuition by harmonizing your left and right brain-hemispheres.
- Develop your concentration power by doing every work with full attention. to do – . This is because the more is one’s concentration level, the more all mental faculties of thinking, visualization, imagination and learning improve as entire mental energy gets focussed on the tasks that mind is performing. You will find daily practice of thoughtless awareness meditation and other yoga techniques very useful for developing your concentration level and hence, various mental faculties.
- Always study/work with straight and vertical spine as it helps with a high level of concentration, learning and all other mental processes due to a high level of mental energy. Detailed reasons already given in previous section.
- Take healthy, balanced diet on a daily basis and fully avoid intoxicants like alcohol, tobacco products and various junk food.
- Take good care of your physical and mental health by using healthy habits and a proper daily routine.
minimum 3 weeks required to detach mind from any old habit or make any new habit firm. so, 30 day experiment
1. give up a meal in case of violation of any rule – this can be helpful for some people in some situations. One will have to think for oneself when one should use this rule.
- motivation leaks through distractions. mind is bucket, motivation is water and distraction is hole. even painful thinking is a distraction – worries, brooding over past, etc. – pleasures become distraction when indulged in wrong amount or at the wrong time. it is better to avoid the trap in the very beginning rather than to get out of the trap – “prevention is better than cure” applies for all types of distraction.
- If the desire for entertainment comes to the mind before sleep time, then set a reminder for that task in mobile for weekends.
- If even this does not help, have a walk in the open for 10-15 min – this will relax the mind and the mind will become ready for actual work rather than untimely entertainment.
- If even this does not help, then have a look at the long-term task-list and find out a task which is very charming for the mind right now – stop your current task and switch to that task.
In general, it is a great idea to use top 2/3rd part of every page in class notebook for writing whatever is taught in class and leave the bottom 1/3rd part of every page blank. Later, write down any clarification or extra material from other books on that topic of top 2/3rd part in the bottom 1/3rd part of the page. Thus, you will have a complete and very organized notebook, having relevant details from books in addition to class-notes, which will help you a lot in learning and revising properly. Solve lots of sample papers in last 1-2 months before the exam.This is one of the best techniques to develop a good exam-temperament.
VIII. Mnemonic principles and techniques