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The Vigorous Mind

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The Vigorous MindThe Vigorous Mind advocates for "cross-training your brain" by intentionally diversifying the portfolio of your activities. Using historical as well as contemporary "Renaissance people" as inspiration, the book argues for a return to a generalist gestalt during the hours of the day when we're not pursuing ever-narrower career specialties. With an all-new approach to time management, The Vigorous Mind puts a contemporary spin on what it meant to be "well rounded," a notion that sounds delightfully quaint today.

The book taps into one of today's hottest trends: The application of neuroscience to everyday brain health. Scientists are proving that strategically pursuing a broad spectrum of sometimes-counterintuitive activities can actually strengthen your brain and make you better at everything you do. For instance, you can become a better doctor by writing poetry; a better plumber by taking up chess.

The secret is consistent, incremental "baby steps," in the spirit of the newly popular Japanese belief system called kaizen. Kaizen is an ancient Japanese Zen philosophy that advocates taking small, even trivial steps to accomplish large goals. The intention is for the reader to make accelerative progress toward their cross-training goals by committing just 20 minutes of concentrated attention per day (what the author calls "Triumph in Twenty") to a topic of their choice.

Ingrid Cummings makes the case that through knowledge of seemingly unrelated fields and interests, a person becomes less burned out, more fulfilled, better at their job, and more creative, and therefore develops a truly vigorous mind. Through her corporate training, Ms. Cummings teaches this theory to everyday people who are becoming burned out or bored by their daily lives and shows them that by pursuing and developing new, varied, and multiple interests, they will benefit in all areas of life and even revive and reinvent the 'specialty' they have committed to.

Cummings offers an 8-step program for accomplishing this goal in the context of one's busy life. She urges readers to return to a Renaissance way of life and offers insights into why and how our culture has abandoned the idea of Renaissance thinking and cross-training in lieu of 'specializations.' Her unique 20-minute approach, called 'Triumph in Twenty,' helps readers apply the Kaizen method by helping them immerse in activities of their choice in 20 minutes or less per day. Most of all, incorporating the theory of Kaizen in one's life can refresh careers, defeat depression, and rewire our brains for greater cognitive abilities.

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