42 tips and tricks for brain health


My son came back yesterday. I translated the following from Chinese to English for both of my children.

(1) Eat with your eyes closed. This will force you to rely on other organs.
(2) Eat more Lecithos-rich food. e.g. peanut, soybean, Edamame
(3) Carry some different coins with you. Try to tell with your fingers which is which.
(4) Watch TV without sound. Try to understand the show from what you see only.
(5) Dink coffee or tea with your nose pinched. Use your tongue to smell it.
(6) Read out loud. Send to your brain what you see.
(7) Learn a foreign language
(8) Do something that you sub-consciously would not do, like trying a whole new dish, taking a new route to a familiar place.
(9) Take a detour to a known place and use your brain to get back
(10) Try using your left hand, if you are not left-handed, to brush your teeth or do something using a different hand
(11) Drink yogurt
(12) Take a break or a walk or deep breath before learning
(13) Go to new places
(14) Try to see things from different angle or perspective
(15) Have a nourishing breakfast
(16) Take a longer time to chew before you swallow
(17) Walk fast, exercise
(18) Use timer to manage your time. Take a break when time is up.
(19) Create joy. Joyful moment is beneficial to your brain.
(20) Determine if your left brain is more developed than the right one or vice versa. You are happiest when you use the side that is more developed.
(21) Have enough sleep
(22) Eat food rich in curcumin which helps fight dementia
(23) Have regular exercise
(24) Shut down the cellphone at a regular interval, so that you can concentrate your brain
(25) frown occasionally, which helps you focus
(26) Keep up with news, new ideas, and new development
(27) Use images. One way to help memorize is to link a concept with a picture.
(28) Create chaos to challenge your brain.
(29) Confirm yourself. Give yourself a hint that you can do it, which helps you reach your goal.
(30) Play games that requires your hands and feet, which helps improve your reaction speed.
(31) Read the writings written by smart people.
(32) Write often, write what you think
(33) Go to museum, which helps reduces stress and tension.
(34) Play puzzles, sudoku, brain-teasers, chess, etc.
(35) Use your fingers
(36) Eat dark chocolate and drink grape wine
(37) Play music instrument.
(38) Drink coffee.
(39) Have a hobby
(40) Make comments in appropriate places
(41) Throw into trash your calculator
(42) Go back to Nature. Crowded and noisy urban environment is detrimental to your memory and your self-control ability.



My son came back yesterday


Yesterday noon, we drove to the airport to get my son home. He came back from New York City to spend a week with us. He will be going back next Sunday, 8/2. It’s not a long visit, still I already feel blessed with his coming. It’s a highly joyful moment for all of us seeing him back. He is such a wonderful boy!

I will work half a day next week, that is, 4 hours each day from 7 to 11 AM. Since my sidekick is also off on vacation next week, I’d better not take the whole week off this time. Plus, my son also works remotely while he is with us.

I am the happiest mom so far!



One of my favorites, Marie Curie’s quote


We had our monthly CTO meeting at CRC today. During the meeting, the person presiding the meeting mentioned a quote of Marie Curie, which happens to be my favorite,

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

On the way back to office, I took the road less taken. I think of the fact that the other adult in the household always takes Ward Parkway to KC plaza, averting the unfamiliar ones. I like to try different routes, the unfamiliar one, the more adventuous, the more chance to discover something new, the better. Try and learn something new everyday. Isn’t that what life is all about!



“How does your memory work?”


I read this one on 2/22/2014, “How does your memory work?” I thought of sharing it here.

“To remember something your brain goes through the following process:
First your brain consciously registers the memory, a process called encoding. The reason most people don’t remember a name straight away is because you haven’t encoded the name – perhaps because you weren’t paying full attention. Next, the brain must consolidate the memory, followed by the last step which is called retrieval.

The best way to improve your memory is to keep remembering the same thing, over and over again. This strengthens the neural pathway to the memory. There are other things you can do to improve your memory; get a regular sleep pattern, eat a balanced diet and exercise often.”

Here’s what I have learned:
(1) Pay attention if you really want to remember it
(2) Review what you just remember, reinforcing it helps make it permanent
e.g. if you want to memorize a piece of poem, commit it to memory first, then review it again and again until you can retrieve it without your active thinking, like the time table you learned when you were little.



Thought of the day–you need to know the way to reach your goal


This has been a busy week so far. My sidekick is off on vacation for two weeks. Physicians kept coming with new research patients. On top of that, there are three morning meetings this week, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile, I try to make it relevant to my personal agenda.

Today, while at the meeting at Westwood, I thought of this quote, “If you’re only willing to do what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you’re willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.” – T. Harv Eker

As if life won’t be easy if you don’t do the hard work. As if only hard work can make your life easy. Sometimes, it seems the opposite is true. Life is not easy even if you have worked hard. You must know how to work hard in the right way.

It’s like you work very hard going east when your destination is west. You have to know the right way to reach your goal, with full speed.



One of the reasons why I am so eager to leave this office 2


On the morning of 6/25/2015, we had a meeting at another location from 7:30 to 8:30. Also that morning, there was a monitor scheduled to come at 8:30. It turned out that the monitor was told by one of my colleagues that I started working at 7 AM, which meant she could come early if she wanted. This she did. The front desk lady told me she showed up at 7:50. Of course, I was still at the meeting at another location.

The front office supervisor wrote to my manager at 8:27 AM that morning, “I have a Monitor here and she says [my name] knew she was coming but neither her or [my sidekick] are here and she cannot stay long she has other appointments and a flight to catch. Please help with direction.”

The next day I explained to my manager, “Yesterday’s [study name] monitor came to south clinic earlier than the schedule because she said someone at OP office told her I go to the office at 7 AM.” The manager, instead of taking my words as true, came back challenging me, “She arrived around 8:30 which was her scheduled time.”

Neither the manager nor I were at south office at the time when the monitor came. How did she know when the monitor came? 7:50 is 40 minutes ahead of her scheduled time. Both the monitor and the front desk lady told me she showed up earlier than schedule. Why did my manager challenge what I told her, as if I lied to her?

It upsets me every time I think of this. Some people say hurtful words or hurting others without thinking. My manager belongs to that some people. I don’t think it is her intention to hurt but she did it. Well, for me, it is time to put it behind me and move on. Let’s try to forget uncomfortable things in life, as if they never had happened.



One of the reasons why I am so eager to leave this office


For some reason, I thought of this early in the morning today while I was doing math exercise. It bothers me a bit when I think of it. So I thought the best way to put it behind me is to record it here.

There is one reason that I felt specially pushed to leave this office. It is the manager. To be fair, like all of us, she is a good person with limitations, that is, she is rather gullible to what people say to her. But that limitation hurts decent person like me in particular, because I make it my principle not to say bad things about anybody to my manager.

Here’s how bitching words about me got around. When I worked at our SW office, I was with someone who seems to make it her mission in life to gossip about others. To be fair, she is also a good person or at least she has the desire to be good. But the flaws in her character often ends up being detrimental or even sabotaging to others.

Specially, that colleague of mine lacks the guts to say what she wants to say in front of the people. Instead, she badmouths her colleagues to the manager, colleague like me, a nonwhite minority who she strongly dislikes. Also, when a mistake of hers is found, she blames other for her mistakes, with me being that other.

Second weakness is her lack of the self-discipline to watch her mouth and not to gossip about others. For some unexplained reasons, she simply couldn’t stop gossiping about others. This baffles me tremendously.

It yields some horrible consequences for me when I was around that person before 3/2014. This I didn’t know until I left SW for south office and until I had some exchanges with the manager who distrusts me and my ability, and of course, dislikes me, believing I am a liar, all totally for no reason at all. I’ll show why she distrusts me tomorrow.

Now you understand why I have been constantly looking for jobs. Too bad, I don’t have the luck to land on anything and now, as I am approaching six decades of life, I am losing the drive to drive around.



Go to art classes, best way to fight memory loss…


On 7/14, while at office, I read this article from BBC site, “What’s the best way to fight memory loss?”

They had an experiment using 30 volunteers. The volunteers were then randomly allocated to three groups and asked to do a particular activity for the next eight weeks. The scientists did their battery of cognitive tests before the activities.

First group were simply asked to walk briskly, so that they were just out of breath, for three hours a week.

Second group were asked to do puzzles, such as crosswords or Sudoku. Again they had to do it for three hours each week.

The final group were asked to take part in an art class which involved drawing a naked man.

“Our scientists redid their battery of cognitive tests and the results were clear-cut. All the groups had got a bit better, but the stand-out group was those who had attended the art class.”

Of course, there are many explanations as why the art class best improves mental ability. For now, just keep in mind this: art is a powerful tool in keeping your brain sharp.

Do include art activities for your brain health.



A new way to challenge your brain


I think it a good brain practice or a way to challenge yourself to see if you can come up with a different word for expressing your idea. Even better, you can learn new words this way. That is, deliberately looking for a different word when you write. Instead of using the one that comes to your mind first and that you have used and overused all your life, see if you can think of or find another one, a synonym, even a totally new word.
e.g.
use rebuff for reject,
use reprehend or reprobate for criticize
use detrimental for harmful
use advantageous for beneficial
use lucrative for profitable
use approbation for approval
use concur for agree

Please note this is more for brain health than showing off your vocabulary.



No need to have too much…


I read a story like this. A man and his girlfriend were in a flower store. When the man noticed his girlfriend liked yellow rose, he bought one for her the next day. Days later, she asked him, “Do you truly love me?” He poured out a torrent of words to show how much he loved her. She expected only one word and now she got a chapter. Her mind became absent minded while he was pouring on and on…

I thought it funny at first. Words of love should be sweet and touching, but it can become unbearably boring when it is more than enough.

Then again, there is, of course, more to it. The take home message is quality over quantity. The same thing can be said of parenting. If we talk too much, most likely our words fall on deaf ears.

In fact, quality prevails over quantity in nearly everything.



Don’t go against nature….


Nature may call in different forms, be it when you feel thirsty, or when you are sleepy, or when you are hungry, or when you need to use restroom. Don’t hold yourself back when you hear nature’s call.

That is, drink when you are thirty, eat when you are hungry. Go to bed when you are sleepy, slow down when you are tired. And of course, go to restroom when you need to. It will be detrimental to your health if you keep doing what you are doing and ignore nature’s call.



Strengthen your neural connections


This is what I read on 1/16/2008, an article written by Tycho Vancreato, “9 activities to help improve your working memory and concentration.”

(1) Brain-healthy eating
(2) Turn on music
(3) Reduce stress
(4) Pay attention
(5) Group things
(6) Think back
(7) Strengthen your neural connections
(8) Include more of your senses in an everyday task
(9) Walk

Detail for number 7:
This is an exercise that can even create new neural connections. Grab the mouse with the hand you normally don’t use it with. It is probably harder to be precise and accurate with your motions. You could easily try some of these exercises everyday. It is important to challenge your brain to learn new tasks, especially processes that you have never done before. e.g.
–Use your opposite hand to brush your teeth
–Dial the phone or operate TV remote
–Draw symmetrically by making the same movements with two hands



10 ways to ruin your career


I read this from CareerBuilder. It was written by Kate Lorenz. Here are the ten ways that you could damage or even endanger your career.

(1) Poor people skills
(2) Not a good team player
(3) Missing deadlines constantly
(4) Conducting personal business on company time
(5) Isolating yourself at office
(6) Starting an office romance
(7) Fearing risk or failure
(8) Having no goals no plan
(9) Neglecting your professional image/reputation
(10) Being indiscreet. Remember office is not your private domain.



The best Time to Buy these items


7/11/2015, I was doing some cleaning today. Of course, I dug out some printout or notes that I took some years ago. Before I trash them, I thought it better to share them here. This is the first of these notes.

The best Time to Buy:
(1) Airplane tickets: Wednesday morning
(2) Books: Thursday
(3) Cars: Monday
(4) Clothing: Thursday evening
(5) Department-store wares: Saturday evening
(6) Dinner out: Tuesday
(7) Entertainment/Movie/Museum: Wednesday
(8) Gas: Thursday before 10 am
(9) Groceries: Sunday or Tuesday
(10) Hotel room: Sunday



July 11, in memory of my father


It has been 28 years since my father left us. Every year on this date I think of him and the memories that I keep about him. There are lots of thoughts on this around this time of the year.

Sometimes, I wonder if my father knew how much we miss him, as if he were in heaven and were watching us. Then I realize this is simply not true. I want very much to tell him that he has not died, that part of him is still alive in us, not physically but spiritually.

I want to tell him that the older I am, the more I realize that I am so much like him in many ways, like having this never-ending drive to be something better with each passing day, that with this desire to learn and never letting a day pass without learning something new, even as I approach 6 decades of life and still try to learn a new language.

Even in my dealing with people, I have the same kindness that my father possessed, that I never hurt people, exactly like what he wished. He just never said anything bad about anyone at all. He truly had an angel heart! The sad part is when he was alive, we never told him this and he never knew how we appreciate and carry on his legacy.

I want to tell him that his two grandchildren are very much like him, too. They are extremely kind-hearted and have the same thirst for knowledge as their grandfather and the desire to be better everyday. I bet it would be a huge comfort if he knew this.

He was such a rare wonderful man. I wish he were still here with us. I miss my father. It is definitely unfair that he was taken away so early in his life.



What should we teach our children?


(1) A child must learn how to cook and take care of himself/herself.
(2) A child must learn to drive so that she doesn’t rely on others to take her to places.
(3) A child must go to college and spend a few carefree college years studying and making lifetime friends.
(4) A child must love reading which broadens his vision and makes him a happy person.
(5) Don’t just cry and blame others or bad luck, even if “things fall apart, center cannot hold.” Be resilient after however big setback.
(6) Teach your child to live gracefully, even if he doesn’t have the means to live a splendid, grandiose life.
(7) Teach your child to keep a notebook and a camera when he travels. Even if the scene is the same, the mood might be different.
(8) Teach your child to have a place that she can claim as her own.
(9) Teach your child to be kind to others.
(10) Teach your child to save for rainy days so that she can always pay her bills. When she has money, think of the time when she doesn’t have.
(11) Finally, smile, grace, self-confidence, these are the great spiritual wealth.



Some wisdom in parenting…


A bit of wisdom in parenting:
1. In general, the main factor in child education is family not school.
2. Irresponsible parents do no good to the child. Over responsible parents do no good to parents themselves.
3. How parents treat each other impact the way their child treats others.
4. Develop enthusiasm and wisdom in the child
5. Bring out well-behaved child
6. Be generous to others
7. Help child to be active and be healthy
8. Don’t think the child only develop physically before age 6 and you can leave the child to the grandparents. Such child might be out of control by the time he gets back to you at age 6.
9. Often do three things with the child:
a) have dinner with the child;
b) fix/repair toy/furniture with the child;
c) read with the child
10. There are three key time points in a child’s development, around age 3, 6, 13. You might face tremendous consequences for missing these key periods.
11. A child needs to learn to do things himself by age 3. Try to let him do it if he can. If not, teach him how.
12. Don’t worry too much if the child chooses a road not often taken.
13. Be careful about your manner when you lecture to a teenager.
14. Let your child have his own privacy. Don’t force him to confide everything to you.
15. A child needs a more permissive parent around age 3, an authority figure around age 9, a passive democratic one around age 13. Parenting style evolves from authoritarian to democratic.
16. Let the child develop friendship among his peers, but be watchful whom he is associated with.



If you feel guilty while doing something, you’d better stop doing it


The other day my daughter didn’t go to bed until 3 am next morning. I asked her if she watched the movie that she rented, she said yes sheepishly. I once told her, “You stay late at night only if you have work to do. Do not burn midnigh oil just to have some fun time, especially during weekday.” She knew it. I asked her if she felt a bit guilty when she was watching at night. She said yes.

I told her it was a good thing that she still felt guilty. It would be awful if she doesn’t. Then I told her, “If you feel guilty doing something, you’d better stop doing it, because you know you should not do it.”

This sense of guilt is our inner voice of self-check when nobody is watching. The voice comes from our years of upbringing and socialization which tells us what is the right thing to do. It’s better listening to this voice.


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