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How To Train Your Brain To Learn Faster with Jim Kwik

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you were able to cut the amount of time taken to learn new things in half? It may sound far-fetched, but by refining your approach to learning, you really can drastically improve your learning speed. In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are again joined by Jim Kwik for a discussion on strategies you need to work smart and not hard when it comes to new learning.

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Tana Amen: Welcome back. We're still here with Jim Kwik, learning expert and founder of Kwik Learning. So Jim can you give us some of your practical tips for optimizing your brain to learn faster in this episode.

Jim Kwik: So to learn faster there are a number of things people could do.
If you have a subject or skill you want to be able to learn. The fourth, besides digital overload, digital distraction, digital dementia, is digital depression. I'm very concerned over-
Tana Amen: Oh, for sure.
Jim Kwik: ... We've had this conversation about mental health, how we live in a society where everyone's comparing themselves to this highlight curated trailer of other people's lives.
Tana Amen: And kids are just so overwhelmed by the perfection that they see repeatedly, even though supermodels don't look like supermodels. But kids don't know that.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, even just this morning. Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones came out and said she'd been depressed and she'd suicidal. So even the people who you think have at all, they may have what you want, but they don't have anything they needed.
Jim Kwik: It's an epidemic. So how do you overcome these challenges? I mean, that's why I feel like we're all in this mission together. It's about education. It's about training and resources for people. And so going back to the first challenge, which is digital overload, that we've mentioned.
There's certain things you could do to learn faster to keep up with this high rate of change. Because we're not learned. And this is the area of meta learning, learning how to learn. And so I use a very simple acronym called FAST, F-A-S-T. So if everyone could think about a subject or skill that they'd like to get better at.
It could be martial arts, it could be Mandarin, it could be music, it could be marketing, what keeps us ... And of course, we want to be able to learn it in a short period time, because the greatest asset we have really is our time. Is the one thing we don't get back, our attention.
Four things to think about FAST, the F is if you want to learn something faster, is forget it. Meaning that you're like, "Jim I thought that this was a conversation about memory." But a lot of people don't learn something brand new because they think they know it already. And because their cup is full.
And so temporarily suspend what you know about something, keep an open mind, your mind is like a parachute only works when it's open. It's cliche, but it's true. But a lot of people don't learn something because they'll say they have 30 years of experience. But sometimes it's when you deconstruct it, they have one year of experience, they repeated 30 times.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Oh interesting.
Jim Kwik: And they're not evolving it because they feel they know it. The other things that will temporarily forget are situational things. We know multitasking is a myth. And a lot of people are trying to learn something, but their mind is thinking about other things. And a simple hack for that is just to write it down.
Your mind goes to the kids or the dry cleaners write it down, so then you can release it because if you try not to think about it, what you resist persists, right? And then so it gets worse. But it's just metaphorically if you're thinking about three or four different things it only leaves you 25% to be actually focused on this task at hand.
We know also, obviously, there's no multitasking, they're just task switching, which people have actually have more errors takes more time. You take anywhere from a few minutes to 20 minutes just to regain your focus, and your flow back on the original task. So that's actually debilitating.
And then the third thing I would forget temporarily is our limitations. Because we just don't know what we don't know, in terms of what's possible because we all have this learned helplessness. Just like that elephant, you wonder why the elephant doesn't just tear down the whole circus tent.
But since it's been a baby, it's been trying, and it couldn't do it the first couple days or a couple weeks.
Tana Amen: So gave up.
Jim Kwik: And then it learned it's helpless, but in actuality it's not. And so in what areas you know, I love what you talk about killing ends. Because when people say they're too old, or they're not smart enough. I always tell people, if you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them and people always arguing for their limitations.
Tana Amen: I like that.
Jim Kwik: And your mind is always eavesdropping on your self talk.
Tana Amen: That's really good.
Jim Kwik: And so your mind is always eavesdropping on that self talk. And so if people truly knew how powerful their minds were, they wouldn't say or think things they want to be true. It's not that having one bad thought is going to ruin your life any more than eating just that one donut. It's the consistency of it, or talks about [crosstalk 00:12:56].
Dr. Daniel Amen: And if you don't question thoughts-
Jim Kwik: Exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... That you believe and then you act out of the belief even if it's a lot.
Jim Kwik: Exactly. And that's where I mean about forgetting about temporarily what you believe is possible.
Tana Amen: I want to repeat that one thing because it was so good. If you fight for your limitations, or if you fight to keep your limitations.
Jim Kwik: Right. And they're yours.
Tana Amen: They're yours.
Jim Kwik: Yeah, they're.
Tana Amen: You get to keep them.
Jim Kwik: Yeah, so many people argue for their limits. And then they get to keep them, and it's a challenge. So we have to get out of that habit. And I know you do teach so many different methods for killing automatic negative thoughts. So that's vital. So that's the F is forget.
The A in FAST, stands for active. I feel a lot of us don't learn we learned slow because we're passive learners, meaning we grew up in a 20th century education that prepares for 20th century world. Which at the turn of the century was following directions and working assembly lines and agriculture.
But we live in such a dynamic world now. The human brain as you know, it doesn't learn just by being lectured to. The human mind, we don't learn through consumption. We learn more through creation and co-creation, social learning. And so you can't just lecture to somebody and have positive change. Otherwise the world would be a lot different place.
But 20th century education was sit quietly by yourself, don't talk to your neighbors. Very passive. But we know learning like life is not a spectator sport. So how can you make this learning endeavor of learning Mandarin, martial arts, some more active. Active note taking, actively asking questions, actively feeling how you're going to share it to other people.
Because you get a roll up your sleeves and get involved and that's where you're actually going to learn it better.
Tana Amen: Can I throw something in there?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: Is just something that ... It's funny, I didn't know your acronym, but my daughter used to go to a one of the very large high schools in our area. And just didn't like it at all wasn't doing very well. I mean she acts that's not true. She had a 3.5 GPA, but she didn't feel she was meeting her potential.
She just came home one day she's like, "I really want to focus on my future. Not going to know these people in 10 years. Can I homeschool?" So I was concerned about it at the time, but she's had this chance to travel around the world with us she's got ... The program I picked. I noticed this instant change with her.
This Love school. Her GPA, like flew through the roof. She's got straight A's, if she has a 97% in the class that's low. And I'm like, "Is it because the program is not hard?" And then I realized, "No, that's not what it is." Because it's an online program. And it's a mastery program.
And she doesn't have teachers sitting in front of her telling her stuff. She has to do it, she has to write it, she has to come up with it, she's in charge of it. They use real world situation, and I just instantly saw her take responsibility for her learning.
Jim Kwik: That's huge part.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Active listening, active learning is so important.
Tana Amen: It was wild.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Stay with us, when we come back, we're going to finish the FAST acronym. We're also going to talk about procrastination. Stay with us.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. And while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, give us a call at 855-978-1363.