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July 1, 2013
Listening to the radio recently, I heard an advertisement for a  brain training app. The speaker spoke about how most people spend time working out parts of their body at the gym, but not their brain. I found this ad amusing, because while I have no doubt that there are significant gains to be made from using brain training apps, the best way to become smarter is to by addressing your problems.
The problem most people experience with solving their problems has very little to do with being smart and every thing to do with lack of experience in effectively addressing problems due to a combination of lack of role modeling with addressing one’s own issues and fear of failing due to feelings of inadequacy.
Have you ever encountered an adult or child who clearly suffered from a cognitive handicap? It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? The next time you come across a fellow human being who has the misfortune of being intellectually handicapped, it should give you pause to be grateful for your health. The idea of not being smart enough in the absence of a cognitive deficit is a myth, a myth designed to promote the idea of elitism.
Some people have unfortunately bought so much into the idea of elitism that they have become distracted from addressing their own problems. Purchasing a brain training app, reminds me about the big deal some people who desire to get into fitness shape make about going to the gym.
You could get out of bed in the morning and give yourself a full upper body and back workout with pushups. You could strengthen your legs muscles with calf raises and lunges, further you could get that cardio workout from a run aground the neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with going to the gym, but my point is that there is always an opportunity to get in shape, gym membership or otherwise.
A similar point can be made from brain training apps, you could pay $ 1. 99 to improve your brain with games and puzzles or you could improve your brain by tackling real problems that confront you on a daily basis. If you get stumped with obstacles, do some research into others who have experienced the same type of issues you are experiencing, learn how they overcame the same obstacles that have you stumped, and pick up where you left off using the information you just learned.
My point is that some people have fallen so hard for the concept of elitism that they believe they are inadequate of addressing their problems. When we come to believe steadfastly in ideas that are useless to us, we risk becoming stagnant in making any meaningful growth and progression in our lives.
So how do you go about addressing your problems? (Phobias, lethargy, self discipline, enforcing discipline with your children, etc..)
Here’s an exercise.
On a sheet of paper, you draw up three columns. On the column to the far left, you list issues in your life that need your current attention. On the next column you list what measures you have taken to address these issues  and lastly on the third column you list new measures you need to take to continue to address these issues.
It is not unusual that when I have given some people this assignment, they came back with the second column blank. It is truly is an eye opening and humbling experience for the person. This then leads to questions about what else they have been doing with their previous time.
Most often when people experience stagnation with their problems, about seventy -five percent of the time, they engage in activities that add no value to their lives. This revelation usually leads towards the process of eliminating activities of no value and adding activities of value to the person’s life.
Brian training app or other wise, if you are nor actively addressing your issues, you are not making any progress or growth.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling private practice.
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