Published: 06th August 2021
E-Canteen Fundas: Accessing peak mental capacity for high performance
Pro Tip: Enhance mental capacity by oscillating between activity and rest. Our most creative work happens when we set thinking aside, so relax periodically
‘I’m unable to concentrate for long bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘It’s affecting my performances everywhere.’
‘You need to manage your mental energy,’ said Rakesh. ‘Mental energy helps you concentrate for long periods and to shift focus flexibly - between big picture and detail-orientation, the internal and external. It boosts performance.’
‘How can we manage mental energy bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.
‘Thoughts are our building blocks for mental energy,’ said Rakesh. ‘Our brain, which constitutes 2 per cent body weight, consumes 20-25 per cent of our fuel, oxygen. What it means is that our thinking patterns affect our energy. We know optimistic thoughts help performance and negative thoughts drain us, so changing our thoughts helps. Use the flipping technique–catch negative thoughts and flip them into thoughts that are positive and energising. Positive visualisation and self-talk also help.’
‘Isn’t it unrealistic to be always positive bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘Good question,’ said Rakesh. ‘Actually we’re at peak mental capacity when we’re in a state of ‘realistic optimism’ –grounded in reality, however dire, yet optimistic about creating a beautiful ending.’
‘Wow,’ said Rahul.
‘Now, to maximize mental energy, work in rhythms,’ said Rakesh. ‘Change mental channels intermittently to renew mental energy – switch creative and logical work, activity and rest. This oscillation activates different parts of the brain – our right and left brains, our creative and logical brains. Did you know that our most creative thoughts, deepest insights are triggered when we’re relaxing and not thinking, when there’s rhythmic engagement and disengagement between thinking and letting go, work and rest?’
‘And what about logical thinking bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.
‘The best mental work is a balance of creative and logical work,’ said Rakesh. ‘The creative process in any activity starts ‘creatively’ with the first insight, saturation and incubation of the idea, followed by ‘logical applications’ such as illumination and verification. So, to do your best mental work, set thinking aside periodically and relax, get critical insights, and build on it. Leonardo da Vinci for example, used to disengage from work intermittently for short intervals to improve his creative process.’
‘Any tips to further grow our mental capacity bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘Even moderate physical activity improves brain activity considerably, so get that oxygen flowing,’ said Rakesh. ‘Also, the brain, unlike other organs, gets stronger and sharper with use, so push it beyond its capacity. Do something new. Challenge it with right brain activities - learn a new language, paint, solve puzzles - grapple with it. When exercised, it forms new neural pathways and builds speed, strength, endurance and flexibility – your mental capacity.’
‘Thanks bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I can now manage my mental energy effectively.’