Saturday, August 27, 2016

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues in Life

Throughout history, people have been concerned about figuring out their values and trying to live by them. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the American printer, author, diplomat, and scientist, was one of the writers of the Declaration of Independence. He also helped draft the U.S. Constitution. In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he tried to change his behaviour by describing and then trying to live by his values, which he called “virtues.” How are Franklin’s value applicable today? Which is Franklin’s values do you share?

The Thirteen Virtues

1)    Temperance: Eat not to dullness. Drink not to elevation.
2)    Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
3)    Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
4)    Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5)    Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself, i.e. waste nothing.
6)    Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
7)    Sincerity: Use no harmful deceit. Think innocently and justly; if you speak, speak accordingly.
8)    Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9)    Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10) Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11) Tranquillity: Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12) Chastity: Rarely use venery* but for health or offspring – never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13) Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
[Taken from: Franklin Benjamin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Selections from His Other Writings. New York: Random House, 1994, pg. 93-95. *Sexual activity.]

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Increase Synapses In Your Brain

Back in the 1970s a neuroscientist by the name of Bill Greenough did some experiments with rats and their living accommodation. One poor group of rats drew the short straw and ended up living alone with nothing to do. The other group were bestowed and comparatively plush surroundings. They had exercise wheels, ladders to climb, and other rats to talk to. Greenough called it ‘the rat equivalent of Disneyland.’ These lucky rats soon became noticeably more physically and socially active, as far as laboratory rats can.

Things became really interesting when their brains were later examined. The ‘enriched’ environment rats had 25% more synapses (connections between a neuron and another cell) per neutron than their poor relatives. These additional synapses meant the rats were cleaverer and quicker to find their way through mazes and were able to learn landmarks faster.
[Source: Make Your Brain Work (2013) by Amy Brann. Pg. 26]

By enriching your world – be physically active and be more socialable,
you are going to upgrade your brain, making it easier and quicker
for you to work things out in the future.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Focus Repetition Will Make You Think Faster

But then, Caesar from 'Planet of the Apes' is too smart
Michael M. Merzenich is famous for many experiments with monkeys. In one he trained a monkey to touch a spinning disk with a certain amount of pressure for a certain amount of time. The monkey was then rewarded with a banana pellet reward. The monkey’s brain was mapped before and after the experiments. What happened has huge implications. The overall area of that particular map in the monkey’s brain got bigger. This makes sense as more brain resources are being dedicated to the more frequently carried out tasks. The individual neuron’s receptive fields got smaller – more accurate – and only fired when small corresponding parts of its fingertip touched the disk. So there were more accurate neurons available to do this task.

Here’s where things get really fascinating. Merzenich found that as these trained neurons got more efficient they processed faster. This means that our speed of thought is plastic. Through deliberate, focused repetition our neurons are being trained to fire more quickly. They also don’t need to rest for as long between actions. Imagine how much more powerful and effective you would be if you could think quicker. It doesn’t even stop there, the faster the communications, the clearer, so more likely to fire in sync with other fast communications ultimately making more powerful networks. More powerful networks or messages make it more likely we’ll remember something.
[Source: Make Your Brain Work (2013) by Amy Brann. Pg. 24]

So if you want the benefit of faster thinking capacity
and the ability to recall things easily in the future,
then you need to pay conscious attention to one thing at a time.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

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