10 reasons to read daily

The amount of reading we do is directly proportional to the knowledge and the kind of mind we have and live by. There are scientific studies that suggest that our brain will not deteriorate in our late years if we keep learning new things frequently.

Here are 10 reasons to keep reading:

  1. The more you read, the more intelligent you become. In every book we can find new words or expressions that enhance our vocabulary. Applying those new words in the daily conversations helps our brain to create new connections between the neurons, reinforcing our brain health.
  2. You learn to focus and concentrate. It’s a challenge to read a book from cover to cover. Sometimes reading a chapter gives us a lot of value in our learning journey. The special time devoted to read can be very important, so focus… focus… focus…
  3. You can travel. Yes, reading makes your imagination fly and it transports you to remote places. This is the reason why many people state that reading a book was better than watching the respective movie. That’s because the visual image they created is the result of their own creativity and mindset towards the story in the book.
  4. You can improve your verbal abilities. By increasing your vocabulary, you can speak about the topics you read with fluency and with references to the source of the topic you talk about. If the topic is related to your job or other person situation, you will be able to drive the talk…
  5. It can be relaxing. Reading before going to bed can help you to transition smoothly into a good sleep. Also, if you read early in the morning before doing other kinds of information intake, it can be beneficial in your learning.
  6. It can make you interesting. When you’re know as an avid reader, people will want to talk with you. This turns into a positive cycle to keep gathering more knowledge by keep reading. It is a good problem to have!
  7. It boosts your memory. As opposed to watching videos or listening to audio books, engaging the eyes in this active interpretation of the text forces your brain to ingrain the knowledge in a more effective way. The attention needed for reading is higher and will produce better results.
  8. It’s entertaining. Reading about the themes you love will keep you busy while reaping all the benefits enlisted here. That increases you skills and make you a source of information for other people.
  9. It enhances your creativity. You can always improve what you learn. That applies to what you read. Like when reading this article, you have the power to make it better.
  10.  It makes you appreciative of the arts. You will likely pursue additional knowledge related to what you read in other venues, like museums, the internet or any event related to your passion.

I love reading. Here are some of the latest books I’ve read. I think you can find these interesting.

Happy reading!

 

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A restless mind

Our brain doesn’t need to rest. When we sleep and cross into the dream world, the brain is reconstructing itself and becoming smarter. What we call rest, for the brain that translates into rewiring and producing complex and stronger structures that will allow us to continue the physical and intellectual journey the next day.

Learning new things keeps the brain active, and such activity continues (if we allow it) in the golden years, when the physical part becomes more challenging. Is in this moment when we need to find ways to stay in learning mode. It’s never too late to become a musician, a poet, a writer or a singer. As long as we fuel the passion for acquiring new skills, new trades, new moves…

The brain has a unique capability called neuroplasticity, which is the ability to change continuously throughout an individual’s life. For example, brain activity associated with a given function can be transferred to a different location, the proportion of grey matter can change, and synapses may strengthen or weaken over time.

We can learn something every day. But we have to seek for new knowledge. We need to move from “I’ll try” to “I will”, in order to keep our minds busy in productive thoughts. Such drive will take us to a better state in our older days… away from the risk of senility.

Let’s keep learning, keep the grey matter working!

I can help you learn Spanish, and you can help me learn something!

Adios! 😁

BOOK REVIEW – The 5AM Club: Own your morning, elevate your life.

BOOK REVIEW – The 5AM Club: Own your morning, elevate your life. By Robin Sharma, Adam Verner, et al.

This is a great book! It presents a good story on how to own your morning in order to conquer your day. It presents a similar approach to what’s known as the compound effect, where small increments lead to huge benefits in the long term.

The 5AM Club is a story where the lives of a billionaire, an artist and an entrepreneur get intertwined to produce a plethora of learning experiences and events that redefine and reshape the mindset of the last two, guided by the unorthodox yet appealing billionaire.

In audio format, this is an 11-hour book. It took me four days to listen to it entirely, but a couple of hours into I was psyched and hungry to keep learning more.

Event though this is depicted as a fiction story, the life lessons are real. I bought into this approach and I’m applying it myself.

In a nutshell, the book presents an approach to devote 1 hour a day to yourself. From 5AM to 6AM this is a time to practice the 20-20-20 method, which consist of 20 minutes of intensive exercise to the point of breaking a sweat, followed by 20 minutes of meditation and rest, and finally 20 minutes of deep learning about anything that improves your life.

A very important part of this is to jump right out of bed with no distractions, no technology, no news. It just you and you only. Resisting these temptations is a key component for this to work.

I’m just three days into this and I’m seeing good results already.

But, hey…this is not something new! It’s being said that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit, but it takes around 66 days to get such habit ingrained in our subconscious minds, so it becomes automatic.

I’ll share with you my results half-way thru to such period, to let you know what kind of progress I make. However, I want to share with you now a few quotes that I gathered from this book.

  • Change is hard at first… messy in the middle… but gorgeous at the end.
  • The moment you most feel like giving up is the instant when you must find it in you to press ahead.
  • One who sweats more in training bleeds less in war.
  • High victory is made in those early morning hours when no one is watching and while everyone else is sleeping.
  • To find your best self you need to lose your weak self and that only happens thru relentless improvement, continuous reflection and ongoing self-excavation.
  • The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live.

You can borrow it from your public library. Let me know if you need help with that.

Or you can get it on Amazon.

You’re welcome to join the club!

Have a nice day!

 

Alejandro

Failure is relative, learning is constant

This is a story about chickens… Should they live or should they die? It all depends on the context.

When I was about 6 or 8 months old (according to those in my family who told me the story) I lived in a small house in Mexico located out in the country which had a big backyard at the time. A lot has changed, as today my parents’ house is in a crowded area with not a lot of wooden spots as before.

One day my mom sat me on a blanket while she was taking care of the house chores, and during one of those activities, a group of baby chickens came close to me, wandering from their mom, probably looking at me as the weirdo giant brown bird playing alone in the back of the house. Neither the chicks’ momma or the human baby’s momma were paying attention to their respective sprouts, which created a situation of “opportunities” for us trying to discover the world around us.

When a baby chicken was within reach, I took it with my hand and started holding it from the neck as if it was a squeaky toy, maybe with the idea that such thing was fun and exciting. And yes, the chick started squeaking, but only for a few seconds, and then died, allegedly from asphyxia (up to this day, such allegation has not been proven).

Disappointed, I dropped the inert little bird and proceeded to take the next one in the proximity, to continue having fun but getting the same result as before, until there were no more chicks (alive) to play with. It was then when apparently the fun experience turned into fear in lieu of the sight in front of me… a chick graveyard. It was then when I started crying, either because of guilt (unlikely at such age) or because I was no longer having fun as I had ran out of chicks.

That’s when my mom came to my “rescue”, just to witness the scene I created, and while she quickly comforted me, she kept asking why had I done such thing, although we both new (!?) it was only a rhetorical question.

In these circumstances is easy to determine that I FAILED to keep the chickens alive, as they would have served a better purpose other than just the temporary entertainment of my innocent life at the time.

Killing the chickens: WRONG.

Now, fast forwarding approximately 14 years, I visited my grandma’s farm, where there was still a lot of surrounding nature and simple life to enjoy, away from the city craziness. It was a summer break, and my brother and I were working with our uncles doing hard country physical work, like preparing the soil, seeding the crops, helping at the brick factory, carrying buckets of water from the well to the house, and some other challenging activities.

One day I was assigned an interesting yet creepy task. For dinner we were going to have chicken. And the chicken had to die. And my aunts were mean, so they were having fun because I had never done this before (allegedly). But in this case the circumstances were different. This is a grown up chicken with enough meat to feed a group of 6-8 people. So, here we go… I was supposed to hold the chicken’s head with one hand and the legs with the other, and pull them apart with enough strength to break the neck and minimize the poor animal’s suffering. But for some reason, even though strength wasn’t an issue, I could not do it. It could be that the chicken kept moving, making me nervous, or that the subconscious brought back the images from my early childhood.

One of my aunts came to the rescue, not without giving me all kinds of “compliments” for my failure. And then it just took her a few seconds to make sure the chicken crossed the finish line, and headed towards the cooking pot.

Not killing the chicken: WRONG

Failure is not absolute, is relative. When we face failure, we must identify the circumstances, and separate those that cannot be controlled by us, from those that can be changed to try again.

And of course I learned something: chicken is delicious!

chickens

 

Vacation time: learning while relaxing

Vacation time can be exhausting… in a good way! So many flight options, routes, schedules, baggage fees, plane meals 🙁

Once landing at the destination, so much good food! Damn my diet!

In my case, so many beaches to visit, with a lot of activities like snorkeling, parachuting, tanning, beach massage, walking, swimming, paddle boarding =0)

Vacation time offers a lot of physical yet relaxing time that cleanses the mind from our life’s routine and turns the body into a fun machine, ready to go from one activity to the other, with enough energy to enjoy and rejoice without limits. Sleeping becomes a wonderful time to quickly recharge and restart the cycle the next day, looking forward to a new sunrise, new food, new activities, new relaxation, new exhausting… challenging… exhilarating… fun.

Learning while being on vacation is not optional. We learn new places, new tricks to our gadgets in order to capture those moments. We learn the limits of our bodies, when tasting new local foods and drinks (this, while fun, can come with a toll).

This is what I learned while on vacation:

  • How to operate a GoPro camera.
  • How to use the panning function on my cell phone
  • I tasted new versions of the seafood I grew up on
  • How to listen to controversial family conversations without interjecting (this is a tough one)

Going back home is always an opportunity to relearn, because time produces change… change in our minds, in our bodies, in our families, in our old friends, in our neighbors.

Learn while you’re on vacation. It’s always fun… it’s always exciting… it’s always beneficial.

Keep learning, while having fun!

The Summer of Learning

There’s no perfect time for learning. No perfect place, website, school, group of people, weather or learning style. There’s only desire. Desire to become a better version of ourselves every day, without constraints, predisposition or outdated traditions. When we let go old ideas like “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, or “if ain’t broken, don’t fix it”, we liberate ourselves from limits imposed by people no smarter than us. We then jump into a world of possibilities that allow us to exercise the only muscle of the body that doesn’t get tired, but instead becomes stronger every time we feed new information to it.

And it’s right there, inside our brains, where the seed of desire originates. It’s a small idea, a simple thought, a short statement that makes all the difference: I can do it.

Mark Twain said: If you believe you can do it, you’re right. If you believe you can’t, you’re also right.

Simple, yet challenging. Clear, but scary.

So, It’s not a matter of luck, at least not in the form of unexpected good fortune, but a quest, a resilient desire to continue the journey of learning while finding time, resources and the perseverance to confront the obstacles ahead and be ready to experiment, create, try, fail and repeat until the goal is accomplished.

Another toxic idea is this: “everything has already been invented”. This suggests that creativity and invention are not needed anymore, and that we must simply consume everything around us, with no hope to improve. But this mindset produces lack of progress and stagnation, and keeps us from investing in ourselves, which is necessary to keep finding new goals, new ideas, new dreams.

Let us have a Summer of learning, and keep extending such learning journey forever. It will make us better, and it will make the world better!

It’s not you… it’s me

How we view the world will always predispose us to adopt points of view that are unique, unmatched and easy to confront when our reality is threatened. When our paradigms are challenged, our reaction can be unpredictable. There is nothing more comfortable than our comfort zone, and if that’s in danger, we will jump.

But… in the current state of our civilization, such mindset can be worth only a few moments in memory, and then it could turn into a quick transition to irrelevance. Even though being intolerant can cause annoyance, the person that irradiates this character is doomed to quickly become ostracized and ignored.

Opposite mindsets have historically led to chaos in many forms, and the ultimate impact is at a world wide level. Sometimes the point of view of a single individual dragged others to a situation that could be prevented easily without escalation.

The existing chaos in our world is the result of our own turmoil. There are problems where we want to see problems, and there are no problems where we want to ignore them.

Selective chaos… chaos created by me… by you… and you… and you.

Wait a minute… how many fingers are pointing back at me?

The truth is, if you and I stop defending our paradigms so passionately, and focus on the context of them, we would have a great opportunity to understand each other better, and would be able to confront them without prejudice and with an open mind.

Understanding the motif behind a paradigm allows for a holistic view of the paradigm’s owner. And that helps the counterpart to think before reacting to it.

If we stop seeing only problems, and instead learn to appreciate each other’s paradigms, that will lead to a compassionate way of thinking and to a better interaction among our peers, family members, loved ones, enemies and strangers… because that’s what the world needs… compassion.

Compassion requires knowledge. When we pursue knowledge, the road can be interestingly challenging, but the journey is filled with insights that make it valuable and totally worth it.

Do you care to share your paradigms? I’m open to share mine.

Let’s keep learning!

To be an expert, act like a student

During our scholar life, earning a title or degree is something that becomes a life goal. To be able to say that one is an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, or some new ones like entrepreneur, or knowledge worker, is the carrot in front of us that drives us to learn as much as we can in order to achieve the status of an expert in any field.

While there’s nothing wrong with becoming an expert, the problem is when we assimilate such title as the end of the learning process, like we don’t need to learn more, like it’s time for those behind to catch up to us and for us to just laid down and enjoy being called such titles. The worst of the worst… being incapable to say “I don’t know” when blubbering about a topic and ending up like a fraud in everybody else’s mind.

learn

 

 

 

When we’re students we’re hungry for knowledge, asking all sorts of questions, trying to master the discipline that will get us the coveted degree of something, with minor in something else. And this is a life event to be proud of, no question there and nothing wrong with that.

However, the real merit of becoming an expert is not the fact of being an expert itself, but the journey that the person had to go through to get there. Such momentum must not stop after graduation, it has to continue to purse the next phase, status, step on the ladder, or any other tag or label that we pursue. Some of the most approachable people do not hold fancy degrees of credentials, but they are learners that enjoy being students at any stage in their life.

Let’s keep on learning, we will always be life students!

 

 

 

24 hours a day

We all have the same time in a day, but that is not difficult to figure out.

The challenge is to figure out what to do with all that time. Some people say this is too much, some say is not enough. Everyone can come up with a list like the one I’m going to propose, and the time we spent on it also counts against those 24 hours.

So, what are you doing with your time?

  1. Sleep. I sleep 6 hours a day, but some differ and sleep less, what  about you?
  2. Walk. Mi body is getting older, father time is not waiting for me to keep delaying this. If I’m not as active as I was in my youth, then walking is a good choice, and it’s becoming easier to use that time for thinking, meditating, finding some alone time, although walking with someone is highly recommended as well.
  3. Learn. The brain is a muscle that never gets tired. While we sleep, it opens the door to dreams and thoughts that sometimes we cannot conceive while awake. Learn something new right away, no matter how crazy it is, challenging your brain will pay down the road, maybe we can delay the visit of Mr. Alzheimer.
  4. Care. The more you care, the more endorphins you will generate in those who are the recipients of your caring, and in return you will be rewarded. Such reward will not come from anyone, it will come from you. We spend a lot time judging ourselves for our bad actions, we need to reward ourselves for our good treats.
  5. Travel. Even out of your own state gives you a different perspective of the world, it rewires our mindsets and helps us re-evaluate our current paradigms.
  6. Work. Although important, for many people their job is the center of their lives. It’s a normal trend due to the conditions of the world that we live in. A job also creates a huge distraction, a paycheck, which constrains our efforts, our potential, our dreams. On the other side, investing time after your job is done, will allow for a future endeavor that will fulfill the dreams that no job can, including more time for sleeping, walking, leaning, caring and traveling.

Put together your own list, including your life priorities, so you can steer your life the way you’ve always wanted.

Let’s learn together!

 

 

51TZg1dT-1L

From typewriters to a cloud world

When I was in junior high, back in Acapulco, Mexico, a friend and I were sitting on the sidewalk talking about what the next prank was going to be. I don’t remember the details, but such idea soon changed because suddenly through the corner of my eye I saw an unidentified flying object (UFO) coming out of a moving car. It landed roughly a hundred yards from where we were plotting some childish joke.

As any young curious people would do, we rushed to see what the UFO was, which landed on the same side of the street where we were discussing our very important endeavour. It was a science-fiction book named The Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. The cover of the book was different back in 1983, and it was in English. My friend showed no interest in the book, so I decided to keep it because at the moment I was taking additional English classes to the ones from school, so I though I could eventually read it. Later, Isaac Asimov would write several Foundation books, and now you can have the entire collection, if you enjoy this kind of reading.

As time passed, I kept learning English but still could not comprehend the book. So I took on the goal of translating the book to Spanish, so I could read it. It was a daunting task considering that the book had almost 400 pages, with no images. So I bought a couple of dictionaries and used the typewriter and some paper at home and started typing.

Hold on… if you are 30 years old or younger you might have have not seen a typewriter. Such device was not kept at my parents’ house or mine, so I can’t take a picture of it, but I’ll give you an approximation of it with a cute picture of a vintage, emotionally charged fake typewriter that I got last year (it’s actually a bank).

Vintage Typewriter

Vintage typewriter, no electricity or Wi-Fi required

Also, if you did not use a typewriter, you should know that there was no “Delete” key to correct a mistake. If you made a mistake, that implied to start the page all over again, until a marvelous thing was created: liquid eraser, a white coating that covered the wrongly typed word and allowed to write on top of it (awful when used on non-white paper).

Fast-forwarding to 1988, at my last year of High School, and after five years and countless nights of typing, along with trying to decipher the idiomatic expressions in order to translate them in a way that made sense in Spanish, I was able to complete the task.  A lot of effort went in it, and it allowed me to dive deep into the intricacies of translation. By the time I finished it there was no need to read it, because I became very familiar with the story both while translating the easy parts, as well as when trying to fill the gaps. At the end, the stack of paper that the book formed was higher than the typewriter (letter size).

In our current world, the typewriter can only be found in museums, or the basement or garage of highly sentimental people who like to hold on to these things. But I doubt they keep using it. New devices have taken over, so fast, so radically. Change is a wave so powerful that nobody can stop.

The rapid pace of change produces such an incredible tale of two realities. That from two o three decades ago, and the one from today. Stories like these seem themselves like science-fiction, but they’re not. Here’s today’s tale:

During the past few months I have translated two books from English to Spanish, and I’m on my way to finish the third one. Of course I’m leveraging the experience (gay hair) and the tools I didn’t have back then. I use the website Babelcube to find the books that I want to work on, and after a quick handshaking process I’m typing, proof-reading, editing, and submitting the work, without using a single sheet of paper, or liquid eraser. The best part is that I’ll get paid for, based on royalties. I like to plant seeds for the future…

The books I refer to are:

It’s a whole new world we live in. Distance, language, culture and other barriers are quickly fading, and those who refuse change will eventually end up in a museum, like the old typewriter.

Adios!

P.S. If you want to check the books in Spanish, here are the links: