Jerry Keusch

This conversation is closed.

Apart from meditation, what daily exercises can we do to develop healthy minds?

I am seeking to find practical exercises that we can incorporate into our daily routines to help us to develop health minds. My definition of a healthy mind is one that is at peace with itself. One that is able to handle stress and strong emotions. One that is ultimately happy and content. Apart from meditation, what other exercies are there? Please think outside the box.

  • Nov 10 2011: Hi Jerry,

    Here are a few things that I try to do to keep my mind sharp, and improve my mental abilities:

    - Read books, in great variety and as often as you can!

    - Solve simple problems to keep your skills sharp. I like to go to Kahn Academy sometimes and solve arithmetic problems to make sure I don't lose my skill. You can also improve upon your existing skills in this manner by setting goals (e.g. Solve 100 problems in a row within a certain time limit)

    - Spend some time just observing your surroundings, and try to take in as much detail as possible. This can be fun to do in a busy place, and is definitely a benefit to your observational skills.

    - Try to recount your entire day, in as much detail as possible. This is an interesting challenge with the goal of being able to remember your every action during the day, and I find it makes me more aware of my actions as well.
    • thumb
      Nov 10 2011: Thanks John, I particularly like the exercises on building awareness of your surroundings and your actions.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2011: Jerry,

    I love Galway! I had a Guinness in a small pub there - I forget the name, it was across the street from an old stone bridge right at the waters's edge.

    To answer your question, I will not think outside the box but will offer you some information that is well documented:

    - Exercise contributes to mental wellbeing. Moderate exercise three or four times a week should do it.
    - A strong social network is associated with a healthy mind.
    - Learning anything new - a language, a skill, a craft.
    - Doing things "differently" - brush your teeth using the hand you don't normally use.
    - Eating healthy food, drinking clean water, and breathing clean air also helps.
    - Avoiding detrimental practices (excessive drinking, and so on.)
    - Belief in a supernatural being is also correlated with greater "peace of mind" - any faith will do.
    - Practicing mindfulness helps (not necessarily Buddhism but Buddhist like practices.)
    - Cultivating a positive outlook. (Looking for "the good" in every situation.)
    - Laughter.
    - Reading.
    - Attend lectures (on any topic ... even if you don't agree with the person's position.)
    - Become an "expert" on anything (the evolution of nails, stamps, animal husbandry, whatever.)
    - Do your job well (whatever it is.)
    - Learn to manage your material resources well (money, time, assets, knowledge, etc.)
    - Cultivate at least one deep friendship.
    - Be kind to others (this one really helps!)
    - Help (volunteer, teach, mentor, support a charity, etc)
    - Look for a teacher or a mentor.
    - Study the lives of people you respect (Mandela, James Joyce, etc.)
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: Wow Thomas, thanks for such a comprehensive answer. There are enough potential exercises there to keep us busy all day. Thanks its given me a lot to think about. What I'm trying to come up with is practical exercises that we could recommend to others to help them to develop healthy minds, and positive self esteem. There's a lot there for me to work with. Thanks.
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2011: Cheers.

        Edward de Bono has developed a lot of material that can be used to develop cognitive skills. He is best know for his books (I think he has written 50 or 60) but he has developed whole packages of games that are designed specifically to learn thinking skills.

        Debra's suggestion of using puzzles and games is also a good one and it's easy to implement in a group setting. Chess is an obvious "brain builder" as is "Go."

        "Responsibility" also builds self-esteem: making decisions that will affect oneself and others, taking care of a plant or a pet, and so on. So if you are working with a group, sharing decision making can be beneficial. For example, deciding what game will be played at the next meeting is a simple thing but if the decision is taken by a different person each week, it will contribute to healthy self-esteem. Even deciding what snack will be served helps.

        Have fun (Oh, that's another good one: having fun!)
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: I printed your list and am going to give it to my sons. They won't like my meddling, but it's such a good list it's worth a try. Thanks!
    • thumb
      Nov 10 2011: I was in my doctor's office the other day and he lets me read his Canadian medical journals. I read an article that surprised me that your point on avoiding detrimental practices tweeked. A meta-analyis done in Canada indicated that despite all of the guideline for alcohol consumption (Canada's guidelines are among the world's lowest) no amount of alcohol was actually positive for overall heath especially where it pertains to cancer. I know I am a party pooper to bring this forward but please do not shoot the messenger! By way of reference it was this months edition.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2011: I always tell myself
    "Everyone is trying their best- to be the best person they know how"

    It's a mantra of mine.

    Someone cuts at the grocery line? repeat
    A gentlemen curses the gas price? repeat
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: Oh, see I just choose to deny assholes space in my head.

      I don't bother pretending that they are just disadvantaged on the social niceties front, I just don't see why that should affect my day, and dwelling on it, would.
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2011: I can't just write someone off as an asshole, it's an injustice to another human being.

        But I can see how not dwelling on them could be good for some people.
        • thumb
          Nov 10 2011: What makes an asshole other than behaviour?

          Every person who has ever performed an obnoxious act has had some justification for it in his/her mind. In the end, they do what they do.

          Not even remotely interested in pondering or justifying their behaviour - it makes letting it go so much easier.
        • thumb
          Nov 10 2011: QUOTE: "What makes an asshole other than behaviour?"

          What you think about behaviour.
        • thumb
          Nov 10 2011: Thomas! I am out of thumbs up but what a perfect answer. It is something that I have been unable to articulate but you just said it all!
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: Definitely outside the box Christopher. I'm going to have to let this one soak in to my mind!
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2011: Thanks Colleen. I agree Gardening is great for the soul. And I think you hit the nail on the head about to be in the moment. I think if we can create Awareness we create an environment for healing. The answer I'm seeking has something to do with practical exercises to create awareness, and secondary exercises to promote healing and happiness within the energy of awareness that we have created. I'm not sure what the answers are, but all the comments are pushing me in the same general direction.
    • thumb
      Nov 11 2011: Thanks Jerry,
      I also believe that a "healthy mind is one that is at peace with itself...one that is able to handle stress and strong emotions...one that is ultimately happy and content". I agree that we need to think "out of the box", and many times people are looking for a certain practice or method that will provide peace and contentment. Thinking "outside the box", in my perception, is realizing that we can create peace and contentment in every moment of our lives, with awareness...mindfulness. Exploring our "self" in each and every moment gives us information we can use to "be" aware of our "self", others, and everything around us in our world.

      One thing that promotes healing, is awareness of the mind/body connection, which is very powerful. Any physical or mental activity we participate in, which gives us peace, joy, contentment and makes our heart sing, is valuable to healing the heart and mind. The process of creating awareness may be different for each and every individual. Everyone's "practical exercises" and "secondary exercises" may be very different. That's why it's important to "Know Thyself"... to understand and put into practice those activities which may create more awareness for us:>)
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2011: Hi Jerry, great conversation!

    I have found that jogging does wonders for me. It's my meditation, medication, psychiatrist, friend, confident, and release....it allows me to get rid of the stress, anxiety and negativity in my life by dealing with it physically....once I've done that, I have a very clear, peaceful mind which allows me to then solve problems, deal with relationships and the best part, I can write novels when I'm running (and I do!)...it's a creative outlet that just keeps on giving.

    It really has been the best thing I've ever done in my life, for my life....

    It also incorporates some of the other points...observing life around you....I've jogged by a whale, sea otters, eagles, hawks and heard interesting conversations, live music, birds or the lovely lull of the ocean, which I love so much...the endorphins make me HAPPY...truly JOYful....the fresh air is invigorating...and it increases your libido...

    It brings me to mySELF....I LOVE IT...(and if you would have asked me 3 years ago if I'd go jogging with you I would have laughed and said, "no but can you grab me another pint" :)

    Life is in color now....it's a beautiful thing.

    Hope that was helpful...thanks for the great conversation you've started!
    With a smile,
    Tina
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Nice topic,with the conditions of todays world we need to learn how to cope with stress and strong emotions.I think the first thing we should do is ask ourselves , what am i really feeling right now?,what is really bothering me? and what can i do to solve my problem?.Many of us tend to get too lost in the details that we cannot see the general picture.However if we arent able to deal with it alone we definitely shouldnt keep it in,we should either tell someone or if we are not very good with expressing our emotions(like me),or if there is no one that we can really trust about telling our emotions, writing,painting,playing an instrument or even just listening to some music really helps.I think finding a hobby can calm us down and therefore we will be able to accually think over the problem with a clear state of mind.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Take a shovel and go to the garden. Watch things grow and nurture them. You will notice your reflection in this landscape and know intuitively to plant a tree or hoe a weed. Smell the earth, hear the wind, feel the sun, but don't think.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Nov 10 2011: Jack, this is a particularly great one that I forgot. Thank you for mentioning it!
      Many of us are not ambidextrous and this gives great exercise to our non dominant side of our brain.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2011: Adrenaline discharge, once a day, for about five minutes.
    How about pretending to have stollen something in a store and running away madly?

    This works on males. I don't know about the female mind, as I've been struggling with it half of my life.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2011: Make it a habit to call or see at least one friend/family member - even to quickly touch base. Our sense of community is a huge factor in our resiliency and consolidating that is important.
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: Thanks Gisela. I know that studies show that 'social' people are happier people.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2011: Hi there Jerry...

    If you are new to TED, then welcome! I've only been here less than a week myself...wonderful experience!
    Although I haven't kissed the Blarney Stone, I do have the Irish blood runnin' through me... so here's my mental workout:

    I stretch my mind... I pump new ideas... and I get plenty of food for thought !

    I noticed in your Bio that you read Lama Surya Das' book "Awakening the Buddha within" How was it ?
    Although I haven't read it, I have always felt an affinity to Buddhist teachings. (I especially like D.T. Suzuki and Thich Nhat Hanh)

    Here's a link to a video on here that you might enjoy :

    http://www.ted.com/talks/joan_halifax.html


    See ya around !
    Denis
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: Thanks Denis. I've bookmarked the talk to watch later. "Awakening the Buddha within", is a wonderful book in learning about buddhist philosophy, The Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path, however I am more interested in Buddhist psychology now, and I agree Thich Nhat Hahn is an inspirational practitioner. Food for thought, there's a great concept.
      • thumb
        Nov 11 2011: Hi again Jerry...

        Ever heard the name Thomas Merton? He was a Catholic monk who took a very deep interest in Buddhism ... in fact he wrote about it extensively in the decade before his death in 1968. A book entitled Zen and the Birds of Appetite helped me to navigate the differences. I believe, as he did, its the same Territory...just different maps !

        Anyway... I see you've been very active... so I will let you get back at it!

        Take care,
        Denis
        • thumb
          Nov 11 2011: Denis, I am hoping you will hop over to the TED idea entry and sign the Charter of compassion too, if you have not already done so. Joan Halifax' talk is referred to on that thread as well.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2011: Sudoko, cross word puzzles, learning other languages, and learning a musical instrument are all thought to be excellent for maintaining mental acuity into old age. Cardio vascular health is crucial for a healthy mind as well.
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: I am very interested about the link between cardio vascular health and mental health. Thanks
  • Nov 8 2011: 1. Take long walks
    2. Never stop the quest for knowledge.
    3. Keep the blood flow to the brain strong-be healthy.
    4. Communicate with others in all forms.
    5. Perhaps a book by Marilyn savant in 1990 – Brain Building: Exercising Yourself Smarter (co-written with Leonore Fleischer)
    • thumb
      Nov 9 2011: A great list, thanks Robert. I'm find out more about the book. Thanks.
  • Dec 7 2011: - Volunteer work with elderly & the very young, (though not exclusively with them).
    - Go on a long walk.
    - Make a new friend - daily! ("A strong social network is associated with a healthy mind." :-) {Well, except for examples such as being in the Mafia})
    - One of my all-time favs is to draw a picture, (taking turns) with a child as a type of conversation.
    - "Adrenaline discharge" Gerald, that's a great idea!
    - Learn (& *practice*) tracking skills. I read a book about it & it sounds very involved & integrated with the surroundings.
    - Go out, pick something, look at it and remember it, go home and draw it from memory. Pick a portion of that drawing, go back and see more detail, go home and draw that detail. Pick a smaller portion of that, go back and see more detail, go home and draw that detail.
    - Go to a large crowd. Listen.
  • thumb
    Nov 12 2011: Time for an update. I've had a lot of suggestions which are more to do with developing mental agility. What I am really looking for is some suggestions for practical daily exercises which can give us all the benefits of meditation, such as; awareness, alertness, mindfulness, concentration, and insight. But, exercises which are an alternative to meditation.
  • Nov 11 2011: Posting comments on TED talks.

    I have discovered a couple things in this exercise.

    It's often a learning experience. Developing perspective is essential for a healthy mind and TED seems honestly interested in promoting a better perspective about a topic by selective talks and open membership exchange.

    My posts require a position or thoughts on a subject with the effect better developing my identity. Becoming more consistent and honest with one's self is another a good indicator of a healthy mind.

    TED's ideas and comments activates me. Instincts can be fine, but TED allows me to mentally stretch and hopefully makes for a healthier state of mind.
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2011: Hi Debra, I'm pretty sure I signed it when it was launched, but I'll double check. Its a terrific movement.
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2011: Hi Jerry,
    One very practical exercise that has always been beneficial to me is gardening. It provides the opportunity for physical exercise, working/playing in the earth, creativity, peace, meditation, contentment, fresh air, sunshine, beauty, joy, produces my good organic food, it's good for our environment, good for my own mental/physical well being, and it provides nurture/nature for all those who visit. Then there is biking, hiking, kayaking, skiing...yoga...tai chi...etc. etc.

    The MOST practical and important exercise in my perception, is to fully "be" in the moment with whatever we are doing. Even with every day tasks, we can "be" fully present in the moment, exploring, and loving the process of learning and growing:>)
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2011: My goodness Tina what a great contribution. I can see why you are a writer, what an entertaining comment. It also gets to the core of my question in that it is a daily exercise that can contribute to a healthy mind. What is particularly of interest to me is that is that it is an exercise that you have used to heal your own life.

    I think perhaps the only people who begin to look for a way to develop a healthy mind are those of us who become aware that our mind is suffering.

    My question has provoked some interesting responses and I am keen to reduce it down to some simple and practical exercises that we can use every day to develop a positive mind.

    I look forward to reading your blogs and learning more about your own journey, in the meantime here is a curved ball for you. If you were unable to run or use exercise to get you to where you are now, what other path would you have found?
  • thumb
    Nov 11 2011: Many thanks Denis. I like the concept of same territory different maps, and I'm delighted to see what Karen Armstrong has achieved with the Charter for Compassion,
    • thumb
      Nov 11 2011: Hey Jerry, I have posted an opportunity to sign the Charter here on TED. I hope you will sign too.
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Should I leave the door on the latch?
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Shhh!!! I'm a Roman Catholic. (goes very red and looks embarassed)
  • thumb
    Nov 10 2011: Thanks Beste, you are really getting to the root of my question. If there is a daily exercise that we can use to develop our minds to help us to handle stress and strong emotions, I think our experience of life will become richer. I like the options you suggest, some form of healthy distraction is a great way of calming our mind.
    • thumb
      Nov 10 2011: Jerry, I cannot believe that it is left to me to share one thing that is proven to be great for mind, body and soul. It is excellent for the brain, decreasing stress, increasing blood flow to the brain and increasing bonding. That is sex.
  • thumb
    Nov 9 2011: I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, it's so obvious it often gets forgotten:

    Getting enough sleep is very important.