How to develop your mental abilities
All it needs is little practice and trying things that you have never done before.
When I was in the college, my English lecturer B. Laxmikumar Reddy who used to put on stage Shakespearean plays on the college stage on special occasions selecting good English speaking students to play important roles – I may say with pardonable pride that he invariably selected me.
He used to say, “The average person develops only 10 per cent of his latent mental abilities. He later joined film director KC Reddy at Vauhini Studios, Chennai, as I told me once, and directed a movie.
We are apt to base our estimate of what we can or cannot do on the lessons of our past experience. This attitude is strengthened by the idea that our intelligence quotient is an unalterable factor. A simple example will demonstrate, however, that ability is less dependent on intelligence than on the development of specific powers through practice.
A supremely intelligent person may be a poor painter for the simple reason that he never practiced at drawing even simple sketches. The same is true of mental ability.
A plethora of people endowed with high natural intelligence never develop their mental ability. Others, often much less intelligent, develop their abilities to such a degree that they reach the highest pinnacles of success.
The mind is subject to the same laws of inertia that govern the rest of the universe. It tends to remain static until force is applied. As a science student I remember Newton’s First
Law of Motion. “A body perseveres in a state of rest until compelled by an external force and it moves along the direction the force acts”.
That’s the chief reason why a staggering number of persons drift year in and year out thinking the same thoughts, doing the same thing. To overcome this inertia and so obtain the best of ourselves we need the emotional force of a strong incentive — an intense desire to improve our conditions, to an overwhelming determination to accomplish some end either for our own good or that of our fellow persons.
Consider the immediate cash value of increased mental ability. It is the surest why to a better income. Begin developing your ability and the better job you have so far failed to procure and this will drop into your lap as soon as you are ready for it.
Other equally important benefits are: increased selfrespect; increased respect from others; the satisfac-
RESULT OF PERSONAL HISTORY
It’s a sorrowful fact that a vast majority of humans today are neurotic. As a result of their personal history and their mental and emotional experiences, particularly during childhood, internal mental tensions have been formed which mar by and large, the healthy functioning of their mental processes.
tion that comes of greater usefulness to society; an increased zest for living.
Make a beginning now to kindle within yourself the fire of enthusiasm. Set yourself a worthwhile aim; to increase your income, to right some social wrong. Incidentally, the motto of my High School in Chittoor, district headquarters in AP is: “Look up; Aim high”. My classmate R. Rajamani used to say this often.
He became an IAS officer and was Environment Secretary to the Government of India. He passed away recently (2017).
Always strive to increase the store of human knowledge, to write a novel or an article, to sketch a few pictures or compose music or to invent something to make life easier.
Recently some engineering students from Hyderabad invented a scooter that runs on solar power. Similarly some other engineering students, also hailing from an engineering college in Hyderabad invented a solar powered tractor. The photos of these two with the clutch of students who invented them were published in the English daily Deccan Chronicle.
Neatly dispel whatever doubts you may harbour about your ability. Whatever your natural powers are now, believe you can increase them tenfold. An indispensable condition for mental efficiency is mental health. Unhealthy elements in the subconscious can play remarkable tricks with memory, sense impressions and reason.
For years, I practiced memory exercises assiduously without securing any appreciable improvement in any memory. Afterwards, when I became interested in mental hygiene and discovered how to resolve the emotional conflicts and tensions in my mind that fettered my mind, I was astonished at the rapid improvement of my memory and all my mental powers.
It’s a sorrowful fact that a vast majority of humans today are neurotic. As a result of their personal history and their mental and emotional experiences, particularly during childhood, internal mental tensions have been formed which mar, by and large the healthy functioning of their mental processes.
Any endeavour to develop the faculties of observation, memory, concentration, reasoning or imagination without first resolving the unhealthy condition is totally futile.
Chronic worry also inhibits mental ability. It can be controlled through sheer practice. Have you ever spent a sleepless night in tormenting repetition of one or two recurring trains of thought?
This occurs when mind can’t find a solution to a problem. The last thought of each train comes up against a blank, and the mind goes back to a previous point in the chain and follows it through again.
Thoughts follow each other by association of ideas. At any point in the chain it’s possible to deliberately introduce a fresh association and so switch to an entirely new train of thought.
If we practice this trick of “switching” from one thought track to another we can turn our thoughts at will on pleasant topics and give our minds a chance to recuperate and gain new power with which to solve the problem causing the worry.
Keen observation, memory and imagination are the basic ingredients of mental ability. It’s necessary to observe accurately by means of the senses; to be able to store up the knowledge thus acquired in the memory; and to utilise that knowledge in the creation of new ideas.
Sight and hearing are vitally important essences as far as general mental abil-
ity is concerned and albeit touch, taste and smell may be important in particular in particular fields, they are of no concern to us here.
Drawing is a priceless exercise for developing the power visual observation. One must observe accurately in order to draw correctly. Practise drawing from sight and from memory.
You don’t have to be an artist but as skill develops your interest will increase. In addition to developing your visual faculties you will find yourself in possession of a fascinating new hobby.
To train your auditory perception, get into the habit of jotting down in a notebook all the important things you hear during the day a summary of conversation you had with others, the gist of a radio or TV news talk, the words of a lyric sung by a singer and so on. You may at first find it difficult to do all these but practice of this will make you perfect.
To train your memory set aside a period at the end of every day for writing down chronologically all the important experiences of the day. This practice will make you a good writer. You may even venture to pen a good novel, at least a novelette.
Imagination is a game of combination played with mental images stored in the brain. To develop it, try writing short stories, not for publication but as exercise in creating an imaginary world in which people of your own creation react to the situations in which you place them.
Lastly cultivate the art of self-expression. Develop the habit of putting your thoughts into writing on every possible occasion. Get out and introduce in your conversation with others what you had noted down.
Expression both clarifies your thoughts and reveals their defects. It fixes knowledge more firmly in your memory. It’s also the means through which others recognise your ability.