Sunday, 23 November 2014


Have you ever come across  the word - UNCONSCIOUS INCUBATION. Well, it is nothing but a process in which the unconscious mind keeps working on a problem while the conscious mind stops thinking about it. It is a humbling thought that the mind frequently works better without our interference. You have probably had the experience of wrestling with a problem without coming to a solution and then, after you have stopped thinking about it, the answer suddenly comes to you in a flash of inspiration. The unconscious mind is a great mystery. If it were merely a storehouse for all the things that we don't need to think about immediately,that would be quite understandable. But the unconscious is far more complex than that. It keeps thinking all the time, whether we are awake or asleep. From time to time, it throws up notations in a way that seems quite ransom. Certainly, it is outside our conscious mind.Sometimes it generates thoughts that seem to have no immediate relevance to anything. Anyways, it is not the place to go too deeply into the workings of the mind. Let us confine ourselves to ways in which 'unconscious incubation' can be used to help our creative powers. Although there is no sure way of making the unconscious work on a problem, there are things we can do to give it encouragement.

  • Spend as much time as you can attempting to work out the problem in your conscious mind. It doesn't matter if all the ideas you come up with are no good. The most important thing is to focus your mind upon the problem and consider it from every angle.
  • Write down all the possible solutions, or at the very least, make notes of the difficulties you encounter and the reasons that no solution has been found.This is very important because the unconscious mind will not provide flashes of inspiration unless you have exhausted more conventional methods.
  • Now, take a break. It doesn't really matter what you do but it should be something that has no relation to your problem.
  • Leave your problem alone for at least 24 hours. If no solution presents itself, go back to think consciously about possible solutions.
  • But the unconscious mind is utterly unpredictable, there is no guarantee that a solution will be forthcoming at all. However, it sometimes happens that the problem will incubate for months or years. You just never know what is going to come to surface!
One particular example that I would like to share in this aspect is the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In the late summer of 1883, Mark Twain finished a book that, according to his own account, he had 'been fooling over for seven years'. This is a clear example of the way in which creative tasks cannot be hurried. Doubtless, if Twain had tried to complete it quickly, it would have been a much lesser book than the one we know now - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It took him seven years of unconscious incubation before the book got published.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Good stress and bad stress

There is so much talk of stress these days.The almost universal view is that stress is a bad thing, something to be avoided. While prolonged exposure to stress is certainly bad for the mind and ultimately damaging to your immune system, some stress is not only inevitable but probably desirable. You will all be surprised at this comment. But its true.For the mind to operate at its full potential, it requires a certain level of stress. It is more useful to think in terms of good and bad stress. Harnessed well, stress helps us through exams,and allows us to excel at challenging intellectual assignments and endure physical hardship. 
In this context, I would like to share an information that psychologist Hans Seley is often called the 'Father of Stress' due to his extensive research into the topic. He called these smaller amounts of positive stress 'eustress'. People exposed to eustress may have experienced more success in their exams as it improves some aspects of intelligence. A report says that stress is actually a cognitive enhancer which can boost several aspects of mental prowess and hence helps in professional and academic capabilities. For example a little stress while revising for an exam or a presentation can help you remember what you have read on the big night. But remember stress is good only when taken as small dosages of eustress. Otherwise it becomes a bad stress.
When it is mismanaged, it produces angry or rude behaviour. Too much stress, or extended periods of stress, stops the mind working at its full potential.The main causes of bad stress are from predominantly two sources; people and situations.Try to identify who or what causes you to feel badly stressed. This will help you address the problem and work towards a situation or take avoidance measures. Another aspect is planning. Planning reduces stress considerably - just think how often you see other people or yourself fret because there isn't enough time to prepare for something or are confronted with something unexpected but predictable. Watch out for the good and bad stress in you so that it does not wear you down!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Enhancing concentration in kids

An alert state of mind and a good motivation are inevitable in boosting concentration and eventually a good mental capability. There are two stages to concentrating. First, you need to banish distraction and clutter. This involves discipline and time management. Most children feel more calm and alert in the day. If this is true, utilize this time for tackling brain jobs. Clear your mind and choose a comfortable, calm place to start off. The first time you sit down to study - it is a warm-up time; so you won't be at peak concentration. You would need about 10-15 minutes to shut out all distractions before concentrating well. As you progress, the concentrations starts diminishing. Ensure that you make a commitment to finish one more paragraph before taking a break. Then take a break and relax yourself . You can leave the study area for a break but do not stretch too long or you will need another warm-up session when you continue with your studying!
The second stage is to take care of your attention. Research has shown that when you pay attention to something the parts of the brain processing information becomes more effective. Attention span varies from an individual to another. Try to look out or calculate your attention span. Say if you are able to read 15 minutes without distraction, then 15 minutes is your reading span. Now see if you can read for 20 minutes continuously without being distracted. This way you can analyse your time and increase the attention span accordingly. This is the best way to increase the attention span.
An important aspect that i would like to address in this aspect of concentration is that never listen to pop, drums or any fast track music while reading as this could disastrously lead to poor concentration. Many children do argue that they have fared better listening to music. But this would not be helpful in the long run because listening to fast beats makes the mind very brisk but for the mind to be peak in concentration, it needs to be calm, and relaxed. So put these into practice and concentrate!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Listening skill

Listening is a smart strategy that enhances one’s personality. When we talk, we repeat what we already know; but when we listen, we often learn something. By the simple act of listening, you pick up other people’s good idea. Of course you should make a mental note not to use their sillier ones! Too many people go through life never really knowing what people around them think because they have simply never made the time to listen to them. Good speakers don’t always make the best listeners. But a speaker, who knows how to be a good listener, has a profound impact on his speeches. Moreover, they share more than their own experience. Here are some of the suggestions to improve your listening skills.


Maintain eye contact with the speaker whenever possible
Focus on what someone is saying, and not how they are saying it. It’s easy to get distracted by a distinctive accent, or voice.
Make sure that you are interested and that you are following what is being said by quiet acknowledging sounds.
Be patient and avoid jumping in with too many questions.
Check your understanding of what is being said time to time by repeating things back and encouraging the speaker to add more details.
Try to empathize.
Try not to make your mind wander. Stay active by asking yourself questions about what you are listening to.
Treat listening as a mental challenge and feel good because you are managing to achieve it.
During a conversation, wait for 2 seconds after the person finishes speaking to make sure that they have finished their thought.
Take a comfortable listening position. A good listener uses positive body language; leaning forward and showing an enthusiastic, relaxed nature.
Listen with openness. Be a supportive, but neutral listener.

Many successful leaders credit their success to effective listening skills. Effective listening is a skill that is one of the building blocks of success – so spend some time thinking about it and developing the same. 

Friday, 5 September 2014


Are you an optimistic or a pessimistic sort of person? Do you tend to emphasize positive aspects of a situation or point out what is likely to go wrong? Well, to identify yourself I have listed a few points to emphasize on the same.

Optimists tend to:
  • Be more resilient
  • Focus on solving the problem at hand
  • Be less stressed or anxious
  • Inspire others to lift their performance
Pessimists tend to:
  • Lose heart easily
  • Become depressed if something goes wrong
  • Make others feel gloomy
  • Act as a drain on other people's energy.
You might wonder as to why this classification matters? IT DOES! A positive mindset helps us to work better and achieve more. In fact, research suggests that optimists generally do better in life and fulfill more of their ambitions. Surprisingly, they tend to get more things wrong but are the ones who give up less likely. They accept mistakes as part of their learning curve. Dr. Martin Seligman has suggested that the optimistic or pessimistic characters stems from the way you account for the things that happen to you. This is described as 3Ps: Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization.

Following a bad experience
An optimist might say: This is a temporary setback, will revive back!
A pessimist might say: Things will never get better, will only worsen!

An optimist will look on a setback as an isolated situation.
A pessimist will see a setback spreading throughout their lives, affecting almost everything!

when something goes wrong
An optimist takes control of events and looks out for the cause.
Pessimists tend to blame themselves and sink into depression.

The 3Ps help to explain why people (who seem to be very similarly gifted) can have very different approaches towards handling a situation. A behavioral change can bring about a phenomenal change in one's well being.To help with this behavioral change, try these 3Cs approach:

Change Can't to Can: Have a positive approach. Believe that anything is possible and proceed your way.
Control: Take control of your situation (that is going wrong) rather than falling into pessimistic mode. Make a firm decision that is only a temporary issue and can be sorted out.
Come up with alternatives: If something terribly goes wrong, try to think other possible alternatives. Do not stick to the same thinking pattern; instead work on different patterns.

Negative approaches threaten your ability to learn; they can make you lose confidence and cause it hard to cope up with complex issues. The more aware you become about yourself, the more you can challenge your apparent beliefs and begin to think more positively. A positive mindset makes this miracle happen!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Thinking skills - A Must for kids

Most of the time, children are busy cramming facts, without even letting themselves stand back to think about what new areas still needs to be discovered. Cramming makes their thinking become sluggish and make them overlook the exciting fact that there is still much to be investigated and revealed in any topic. Hence it is important that we need to make the child understand the benefits of thinking individually. Thinking skills are an essential part in a child's life. First and the foremost, the thinking skill help the child to think about an information in a crystal clear way. Thus it paves the way for them to understand that the knowledge is not something that is created by others and passed on to them; they have got the piece of the information themselves.So my idea is to engage them in the following five key areas for clear thinking:

  • What do I know about this topic?
  • What are the facts about it?
  • What is still to be discovered or proved?
  • How could I sum up this topic in my own words?
  • What evidence do I have to support my opinion?
By this activity, we can help the kids gather knowledge and think through topics for themselves. This in turn will let them know, how to question things in classroom discussions and enhance their critical thinking. Your child can also practice this clear thinking pattern to access all other information that they come across in everyday life. For example, when they are watching television programmes or reading magazines with advertisements in them, they can get in to the habit of using their own independent thinking about products they see, instead of passively accepting all the "blurb" that is blasted at them as undisputed fact. Thus by kindling thinking skills in kids, they would become aware of two great natural abilities they possess : imagination and critical thinking. By combining these two abilities they will be following a pattern of thinking that unlocks creativity - naturally!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Identify your smartness

When Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of cognition and education at Harvard University, suggested the idea of multiple intelligences in the 1980s, he started a revolution. Before this, intelligence was almost entirely judged in relation to IQ. Tests covered mathematical and linguistic skills, with a bit of problem-solving thrown in for good measure. When IQ tests effectively sifted academic individuals from those who were more practical by nature, they were a poor indicator of future success in life, love or work. They also provided a very limited definition of what it was to be smart.
Gardner’s idea is remarkably simple and it goes with the grain of common sense. He identified eight types of intelligence, which I have described below. The final two types on the list have been added by other thinkers since Gardner developed his theory. See if you can recognize yourself in any or some of these descriptions.
You like words and stories. Word-play intrigues you and you are an avid reader. You have a good vocabulary. You probably enjoy learning languages. You like writing and may well be able to remember lists of words and tell good stories.
You seek to understand the relationships between different things. You like figures, puzzles, abstract problems and brain-teasers. You appreciate patterns, categories and systems.
You notice colour, form and texture. You probably use pictures to help you remember things, and diagrams, maps and doodles when you are making notes.  You may well be able to draw, paint or sculpt.
You enjoy physical exercise, sports and dance. You tend to be on your feet at the first opportunity whether in a meeting or at the party. You learn by rolling up your sleeves and getting on with things.
You are attuned to sounds and rhythms. You probably relished singing and listening to music from an early stage. You can recall songs and melodies well. Music impacts powerfully on your moods.
You tend to look within yourself, on a constant quest for self-knowledge. You may keep a diary of your experiences, moods and thoughts. You enjoy time to think and reflect, and you understand and mange your emotions well.
You enjoy other people’s company and getting to know people. Parties, meetings, team games and gregarious activities appeal to your nature. You show high levels of empathy with other people.
You are fascinated by nature and see things in it that pass others by. You probably like being outdoors and are fond of animals. You take a keen interest in your home environment, inside or outside.
You enjoy grappling with the fundamental questions of existence. You tend to act according to your principles, possibly questioning the normal ways of behaving in a given situation. You probably hold well-developed beliefs that you are ready to stand up for.
You like making things happen. You are often called on to fix, mend or assemble things, or to come up with situations. Where others talk about what needs to be done, you prefer to get on and do it.
Now that you know there exist different kinds of smartness, why don’t you identify yourself with one of these and strengthen you skills!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Secret of unlocking creativity in kids

The simple way of unlocking the power of creativity in children is by asking them just two simple words: 'Why not? ' Used correctly this enables children to:

  • Value their creative ability
  • Practice presenting their ideas to others
  • Have confidence in their ideas.
As your child unleashes their creative thinking, they might come up with some suggestions that may be hilarious. By all means laugh with them but not at them! Otherwise we are back to square one making them have no confidence in their thoughts for improving it. So at this stage, remember to focus on what really is important: no matter how bizarre their suggestions might be. It does not matter whether your child is in junior or high school - the same thing applies.
Remember that the precise nature of their ideas is not important here - developing confidence in freely expressing their creativity is the utmost need of the hour. Getting an idea from vision to reality follows a creative pattern. By trying out new ideas combined with determination to succeed, inventions and discoveries are made. 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Mistakes are good

In this competitive world, failure has too much of pessimism attached to it. Far more people see mistakes as a sign of failure. However, the fact is that they are indeed the learning curves. We,as humans, are always in the process of  learning things. Sometimes it so happens that we might have barked up the wrong tree - that's it! There is actually nothing to be ashamed of. Rather mistakes are to be analysed, decoded and should be encoded into learning opportunities for futuristic development.
Failures and mistakes are part of a new venture.We need to take risk and try a lot of things with the knowledge that only a few will work out. It is only a matter of perception. If we convince ourselves that failures are an inevitable part of challenging, then to fail sometimes becomes a smart thing - provided that we learn from our mistakes and resolve to do things differently the next time.
So the next time you make a mistake notice them, put them into your memory bucket, reflect on them and adapt what you do next time accordingly.Make a conscious effort to remember your mistakes so as to repeat it less likely. Only then will mistakes begin to have a real value to you!

"Experience is the name we give to our mistakes" - by Oscar Wilde.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

How creative thinkers work?

Research has shown that people who are good at thinking creatively don't necessarily have high IQs. Instead there are three particular personality characteristics that seem to be more important. The first aspect is openness to experience, willingness to take risk to try new things, and lack of concern about conforming to accepted standards. The second is curiosity. Creative thinkers constantly question, inspect, seek and probe. This is partly because they are more likely to notice new things, or spot contradictions or flaws. When they notice these, they don't simple accept them - rather they try to investigate it further. Finally comes in the persistence. Creative people go further to fix up problems, unwilling to accept the conventional solution.

Now let me suggest some of the known ways to make our brain think a creative way....Brainstorming is a strategy used to encourage creativity. The idea is that by telling people to come up with any idea, you encourage them to break free from the fixed sets and make them think out of the box.Group brainstorming offers the further bonus of feedback, where divergent thinking by one person can be taken further by another. Circumstances also boost creativity. Have you ever experienced situations wherein a solution to a problem pops up when you stop thinking about the problem? This is because when we are not under pressure our mind becomes more receptive, shutting off distracting thoughts and outside perceptions. This can be enhanced through meditation and relaxation techniques. Emotional intelligence also influences in motivating creative thinking because it helps in understanding yours and other feelings or concerns which indirectly guides your thinking and actions. In today's world creative thinking is at premium, so it pays to examine the habits of people who think this way!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Mental speed - COUNTDOWN

The most general ability of all is the g factor - general intelligence that probably underlies all types of intelligence and is so important on the performance of IQ tests. Studies reveal that there is a strong relationship between the g factor and numerical-mathematical intelligence (NMI) which is the sub type that helps to manipulate numbers and understand the relationships between numbers and similar abstract concepts. This means that an NMI exercise is probably a good measure to strengthen the g factor. Lets start with a simple NMI exercise called COUNTDOWN. Countdown is an exercise in mental arithmetic, in the guise of mental subtraction. Tell your kid to simply pick up a number between 93 and 99 and subtract 7 from it repeatedly(mental subtraction) until he/she gets 0 or less. Time your kid and record how long it takes for the kid to reach 0. Make them do this atleast five times and workout the average time. Repeat this exercise with different numbers for subtraction and chart down the progress. If your child's time comes down, it strongly suggests that the g factor is sharpening and their mental speed is increasing. Though this seems to be a simple mental workout, it plays a vital role in gaining mental strength in kids.
Try out this simple NMI exercise for your kid and look out for the changes!