10 min read ⌚
Unleash the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being
Are you ready to unleash the full power of your brain?
If so, Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi are ready to teach you!
Stay with us and learn how to develop an exceptional brain.
Who Should Read “Super Brain”? And Why?
If you are amazed by all those polymaths from history—the Aristotles, Galileos, and Da Vincis—and wonder how they could be so smart, then Super Brain is one of the books where you should start searching for the answer.
Suitable for both neurologists and casual readers, the book bares the inner mechanisms of the brain and offers a few tricks and tweaks which should be of interest to anyone who wants to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
About Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi
Deepak Chopra is an Indian-born American author and alternative medicine advocate, one of the most recognizable faces of the New Age movement.
Even though he had authored several books before that, Chopra made a name only after being interviewed on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1993. Three years later, he co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.
His most famous book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, remained 72 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.
Find out more at http://www.deepakchopra.com/.
Rudolph E. Tanzi is the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, specializing in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders related to aging.
He has authored numerous articles in medical journals and co-authored four books, three of which are with Chopra: Super Brain, Super Genes, and The Healing Self.
He is also a talented keyboard player and has played keyboards on several albums, including one by Aerosmith.
“Super Brain PDF Summary”
You’ve probably heard that old myth that we use only 10% of our brain, and seen quite a few movies based on this premise (such as, say, Limitless with Bradley Cooper, and Lucy with Scarlett Johansson).
Though disproven by thousands of studies in terms of the number, there is some truth to this myth: most of us don’t really use the full capacity of our brains.
In Super Brain, Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi reveal several ways through which you can tap into this amazing power and put this wasted potential to use.
And here are our highlights!
Adding a Neuron or Two to Your Brain Is Not That Difficult
Remember that time when you came home drunk, and your father told you the next morning that you’ve lost overnight thousands of neurons in your brain?
Well, he was right. But the truth—the whole truth—is that he was also very wrong.
We lose about 85,000 neurons a day, regardless of our drinking habits! That may sound like a large number, but, in reality, it’s nothing: there are around 100 billion neurons in your brain!
In other words, at this loss rate, you’ll be able to live the life of a brilliant mathematician even if Aubrey de Grey manages to find a way to get you to live as long as Methuselah! In simpler terms, there are just enough neurons in your brain to get you through life even if they don’t regenerate!
Did we just say “even if”?
Yes, we did!
The notion that the brain cells are the only cells in our body that don’t regenerate is, according to Chopra and Tanzi, just another myth. In reality, the human brain creates new cells all the time.
And studies have conclusively demonstrated this!
For example, neurologist Paul Coleman of the University of Rochester discovered that, despite the loss rate of 85,000 neurons per day, the brains of a twenty-year-old and a seventy-year-old person have pretty much the same number of functioning neurons!
But, then again, some old people have more functioning neurons than others.
Why is that?
Because they have trained them better!
Just like your body needs physical exercise if you want to get a six-pack, your brain needs some mental exercise to develop extra neurons. This happens at a faster rate when you’re faced with a new assignment, such as a math problem or a new language.
And humans are not the only species where this has been observed!
For example, an average male zebra finch, the most common Australian bird of its kind, has more brain neurons during the mating season because it must learn new songs to attract the females.
The Two Es: Exercising and Experiencing
True, mental exercise does wonders to the structure of your brain, but, as we’ve already told you, physical exercise boosts brain power as well.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is an undeniable fact that people who are more active are far less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in their old age.
But it’s more than that:
Exercise has a direct brain connection when you consider what it actually does. What we tend to overlook are the feedback loops that connect the brain to every cell in the body. Therefore, when you throw a ball, run on a treadmill, or jog along the shore, billions of cells are ‘seeing’ the outside world. The chemicals transmitted from the brain are acting the way sense organs do, making contact with the outside world and offering stimulation from that world. This is why the jump from being sedentary to doing a minimal amount of exercise—such as walking, light gardening, and climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator—is so healthy. Your cells want to be part of the world.
There is yet another way to help your cells become part of the world: by allowing them to experience new things and opinions.
Most people do the exact opposite: they follow a certain routine and don’t want to go outside the filter bubble they are trapped in. After all, it is safer that way: evolution has taught us that it is always better to stick with the known than explore the unknown: the former means safety, the latter may mean danger.
However, it is the 21st century, and things have certainly changed! There are no more mammoths or saber-toothed tigers roaming around, nor it is dangerous to talk to someone you don’t agree with. In fact, that should help both of you (and humanity in general).
So, do that!
Go out, travel, read, talk to people who hold opinions opposite of yours!
Your brain will love that!
The Benefits of a Super Brain
Turning your brain into a super brain won’t get you superpowers of the kind depicted in Limitless and Lucy. But it may help you take control of some of your habits and become a happier, more fulfilled person.
And what could be more important than that?
After all, what is life itself, but a series of habits?
Here are three benefits of developing a super brain!
Trick the Feedback Loop and Live a Healthier Life
We look the way we do, and our brain works the way it does because of evolution. However, evolving was such a long process which had to take care of so many things that it isn’t at all surprising that sometimes our bodies can work against us.
The case of staying closed to new experiences because we’ve evolved to prefer safety over vulnerability isn’t the only one. As we’ve only recently discovered, your inability to stick to a diet may be another case when your body works against you.
Because of a hormone called “ghrelin.”
Australian scientists found out that this hormone—referred colloquially as “the hunger hormone”—starts producing when you lose weight and makes you feel desperately hungry. That’s the feeling you get after being on a diet for a few months.
You see the vicious circle: once you lose some weight, ghrelin starts producing and says to you that you’re hungry, and, before you know it, you gain the lost weight once again!
However, you can control this feedback loop by merely controlling the thought process. Ghrelin says that you’re hungry? Start replying: “I’m not.” In time, it will stop producing—after all, almost all commands come from the same place, your brain.
“The first rule of super brain is that your brain is always eavesdropping on your thoughts,” write Chopra and Tanzi. “As it listens, it learns. If you teach it about limitation, your brain will become limited. But what if you do the opposite? What if you teach your brain to be unlimited?”
From Intellect to Intuition
Speaking of limitations, one of the obvious ones is not being able to predict the result of some of our actions. We know what will happen if we drop a glass to the floor, but we have no idea what will happen if we vote for a certain person at next year’s elections.
Well, not exactly!
There is something inside us that is able to predict the future. We call it intuition, and though we don’t know how it works, it seems to be working quite well. As Tim Wilson demonstrated in Strangers to Ourselves (something Malcolm Gladwell popularized in Blink), sometimes we think better when we don’t think at all.
Chopra and Tanzi tell of an experiment during which participants were asked to look at some photographs, only a few of which depicted a violent scene. Naturally, the mere look at one of these violent images incited stressful responses in the participants, and the extent of these responses was properly registered by relevant devices.
After some time, something strange happened: people started feeling these things microseconds before the violent images appeared on the screen. And only then!
How did they know?
Is it possible that we can know about the future more than we think we can? Is our brain capable of seeing into it—but we still don’t know how to exploit this power?
Happiness Lives Inside Your Brain… Not Outside It
Train your brain through mental and physical exercises, tap into its power through healthy eating habits and being open to new experiences, and yet, you might end up being just a smart, lonely individual or, to be brutally honest, an unhappy intellectual with a wife and two children.
Why would you need to train your brain for that?
Aristotle was the first one to suggest that personal happiness is the ultimate goal of life and that everything else is merely a way to achieve it. And very few have disagreed with him throughout the past twenty-five centuries.
Well, Chopra and Tanzi start from there and explain how the reason why so many people are unhappy today (despite a million-dollar industry related to happiness and thousands of books which explore it) is actually quite straightforward: the definition of happiness our brains are infested with is fundamentally wrong.
Most people, you see, equate happiness with external factors: finding the perfect partner, having children, earning a million dollars, becoming a famous person. The truth is that none of these things will bring you happiness even if you obtain them, because happiness lives inside your brain.
In other words, happiness is the result of aligning your goals to your personal values—and nothing more! This may mean for someone raising horses, and for another person reading poetry. There is no universally applicable equation!
Take Brendon Grimshaw, for example. He was quite a successful journalist, but he decided to quit his job because it wasn’t as fulfilling as he had hoped for. Then he bought an abandoned tropical island (the Moyenne Island in the Indian Ocean) and became its personal caretaker.
During the next few decades, Grimshaw turned this island into a wildlife refuge for many animals (such as the giant tortoise) by constantly planting mahogany trees there.
Some would say that living such a solitary life (he was the island’s only inhabitant) is anything but happiness, but not Grimshaw: the moment he left, he never looked back. He stayed there until 2012, when he died a happy man.
Find your island of happiness, and move there!
Key Lessons from “Super Brain”
1. The Brain Constantly Loses and Creates Neurons
2. Fight Alzheimer By Exercising Regularly
3. Develop a Super Brain by Learning New Languages and Experiencing More
The Brain Constantly Loses and Creates Neurons
On average, your brain loses about 85,000 neurons a day!
The good thing is that it has about 100 billion of them, so it’s not such a big loss.
An even better thing is that the brain of a 20-year-old and that of a 70-year-old person have pretty much the same number of neurons.
How’s that possible?
You’ve guessed it alright: just as it loses, the brain also regenerates and recreates neurons on a daily basis.
Fight Alzheimer By Exercising Regularly
It is not at all surprising that mental exercises (solving math problems or playing chess, for example) creates neurons.
But studies have shown that the same holds true for physical exercising as well.
In fact, it is one of the few proven ways to fight Alzheimer: the more regularly you exercise while you are young, the less likely to develop Alzheimer in your old age.
Develop a Super Brain by Learning New Languages and Experiencing More
Scientists have observed that the brains of zebra finches (an Australian bird) grow larger during the mating season because it has to learn new songs to attract mates.
The same thing applies to humans: the more you use your brain, the better it works.
So, learn new songs and languages, read, write, and experience new things as often as you can! Staying in your comfort zone does your brain disservice; life is what happens outside of it.
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“Super Brain Quotes”Everything hinges on how you relate to your brain. By setting higher expectations, you enter a phase of higher functioning. One of the unique things about the human brain is that it can do only what it thinks it can do. Click To Tweet If you want to know what your thoughts were like in the past, look at your body today. If you want to know what your body will be like in the future, look at your thoughts today. Click To Tweet Knowledge is not rooted in facts; it is rooted in curiosity. One inspired teacher can alter a student for life by instilling curiosity. Click To Tweet Defying expectations that big thoughts required a big brain, Einstein’s brain actually weighed 10 percent less than the average brain. Click To Tweet We now know that babies are born with 90 percent of their brains formed and millions of connections that are surplus. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
Described as “a mixture of recent research in the neurosciences and spiritual wisdom passed down through generations,” by Kirkus Reviews, Super Brain is a strange book.
At times it seems to be in sync with the most recent findings in science, but, at other times, it seems nothing more but a collection of “platitudes and value judgments,” neither of which are verifiable and most of which seem just too speculative.
Great for Chopra fans, but subpar for a scientist of Rudolph Tanzi’s stature.