As outlined in the previous post, the most important reason for maintaining excellent mental fitness is preventing degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. We also saw that, just like the benevolent cycle of fitness, getting into the benevolent cycle of learning is crucial simply because a fit mind makes learning easier and more fun to do, thereby leading to more learning and more mental development.
But still, nothing will happen if you never begin. If you never build yourself a mental and physical environment within which mental development becomes automatic I’m afraid that learning will forever remain nothing but a tedious chore – just as is the case for physical fitness before you construct a healthy fitness environment.
So how do we build such a mental fitness environment? Well, firstly we have to acknowledge a common mistake that many people make: waiting to become naturally interested in something before they start studying it. This really is putting the cart in front of the horse. The truth is that you most often have to work with something for a while before you truly become interested in it.
The reason for this is that you first need to raise your understanding to a certain level before you can actually begin using this new understanding to better you own life (or the lives of those you care about). It is only at this point, when your understanding has reached a level where you can start applying it and experimenting with it, that a specific subject area becomes sufficiently interesting to fuel a self-sustaining cycle of learning. The study of personal health is an ideal example of such a subject area since you can start applying the things you have learnt in your own life very soon after you have begun the learning journey.
The best way to get started is to get yourself some good resources. If you decide to study personal health for example, the information on nutrition and fitness on this blog (summarized on this contents page) is a good place to start, but I would strongly recommend buying some good books on the subject (as discussed in a previous post). An excellent habit to get into is always having a good non-fiction book next to your bed to read until you are really sleepy. This method can really broaden your mental horizons and also ensure that you never have problems falling asleep. Another excellent habit is to simply follow the advice of Groucho Marx who said: “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
So, why not develop excellent mental fitness for good health by learning about good personal health practices? You really win all the way with this strategy.