10 Best Ways to Elevate Your Mind For Free
Stimulation plays an integral part in ensuring your brain’s heath and well being over time. The more you are introduced to new stimuli the more your brain has to work with and can relate to, which in turn allows your mind to open and expand. This can often can lead to changes in perspective and personal views. Whether it is through travel to new places, new experiences, meeting new people, or learning new skills and ideas, the pattern here is new.
Below is a list of free resources for learning that offer an endless variety of new subjects for anyone to dive into. You can brush up on something you’re already familiar with, or go right into a topic you don't know anything about, just find something that interests you. Knowledge is true power and if you want to make changes in your life, your community, or the world, you’ll always need more know how!
1. Netflix or other streaming service
That’s right, Netflix. As for no cost, I’m assuming you already have a streaming service you use, so it would be no additional cost to take advantage of the many academic benefits these services have to offer. So what are these many academic benefits?
Besides having their own collection of Netflix Original Documentaries, they have a great selection of sub genres for your to choose from. Interested in science and nature? Who doesn’t love looking at the universe with Neil deGrasse Tyson? If you haven’t, check it out. Or maybe you’re more of a sports fan. In that case, Netflix has you covered with everything from biographies to behind the scenes looks at some of your favorite competitions. Documentaries are a great way to squeeze in a good amount of information in a short period of time.
Netflix offers a wide variety of educational TV shows that you can use for both your entertainment, and your academic purposes. They have numerous National Geographic TV shows ranging from good old fashioned safari animals to underworld crime rings with plenty in between so there’s something to peak anyone’s interest.
Both of these options provide you with quick and informative pieces of entertainment making learning new ideas and expanding your mind not just beneficial, but fun along the way. If you really get into a documentary or a show with a topic you’re passionate about, re-watch it and take notes or even take notes from the beginning.
YouTube is the holy grail of free instructional videos. After I bought my first home, YouTube quickly became my best friend when it came to home maintenance and repair. In the second year of owning the home I had to replace the water heater, the dishwasher, take care of a few electrical problems including re-hardwiring directly into the main fuse box, not to mention many landscaping projects including irrigation. I didn’t know about any of these things and a quick YouTube search always got me to an instructional video to walk me through the necessary steps. But that’s not all, you can learn anything on here! Practice your motor skills and try out this Sleight of Hand 101 | The Sybil Cut [Flourish] with a deck of cards. You’ll stimulate that brain of yours and it’ll make for a cool party trick. This is just one of many ways to learn on YouTube so take advantage of all the experts and claim to be experts out there and soak up some new stimuli.
3. Talk it Out, TED style
TED Talks mission is to spread ideas and it does an incredible job at that. I’ve learned about so many different topics from watching TED Talks videos it’s astounding. I’m talking life perspective changing sort of education here. The topics they cover are so wide in variety that I won’t bother trying to name them. Some of their videos are even under 10 or 5 minutes so you can get in a quick lesson on some pretty heavy subjects.
4. GTS - Yeah I Said It, Google That Shit
When all else fails, just Google it. Who hasn’t Googled a quick fact to prove a point, win a bet or an argument, or to just quell their own curiosity? The only downside on Google is you need to pay attention to your source material. Other than that, you can literally Google anything and learn a new skill. It may even bring you to a YouTube video! Either way, Google is an excellent gateway for seeking out knowledge in the vast universe that is our internet.
Moving on to more traditional sources of learning for your mind’s expansion we reach our top pick for online learning, Coursera. “Coursera provides universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online”. Well put Coursera website. But seriously, is that not the goal of an organization you can stand behind? And they live up to their word. We’re talking some heavyweight educational opportunity here with classes offered from the University of Michigan, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins University just to name a few. You can opt to pay for credit, or just tag along with the course at no cost and learn the material. They have something for everyone so seriously do check them out.
Academic Earth is similar to Coursera. They have an astounding collection of free online lectures and courses from more heavyweight universities like Berkley and MIT. They encourage the global sharing of ideas and believe “that everyone has the right to a world-class education”. I agree with that whole heartedly and encourage all of you to at least take a look at what they have to offer. You never know what you might find catches your interest that could be the spark to a whole new part of your life.
Another free online learning platform is Kahn Academy. “Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom”. They are partnered with many accredited institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and NASA. Add Khan Academy to your list of available no cost resources for online education and you’ve got yourself an endless supply of new stimuli.
8. Open Educational Resources (OERs)
One of the best definitions for Open Education Resources I could find was on OER Commons FAQ. It reads, “Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER includes full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge”. Some other OER resources I would recommend besides OER Commons are Open Education Consortium, Learning Pod, and College Open Textbooks.
9. Free Local Experiences
“If it’s free, it’s me”, is a phrase I am all too familiar with so my wife and I are always one the lookout for free entertainment. New experiences are a great way to introduce ourselves to new stimuli and expand those precious minds of ours. Every local community will have different offerings but some of my favorite that I’ve found in the past have been free community theater, free local concerts and sporting events, poetry readings, yoga and other fitness related activities, and much more. Search out your local resources online for free activities and see what you can find. Several local papers will have these events posted in print and online. Also, check out your local recreation center's website or on site bulletin board. Another good resource is your city's or town's website. They will often have a calendar of events listed. Branch out of your comfort zone once in a while and check out something new. You don’t have to like it, or ever go again, but checking it out makes a world of subconscious difference.
10. “Back in my day….” The Library
The old tried and true resource for knowledge and expansion of the mind, your local library. The library has evolved over time offering more than just books at your disposal. Besides providing a gateway to our internet in order to access any of the available no cost online educational resources, you can also get DVDs, and other items. Some libraries even rent out sporting equipment like soccer balls and fishing poles in order to encourage youth to get outside and experience nature. As one of the oldest resources, the library has stood the test of time and still valuable.
Elevate Your Mind!
There is no better time than now to start elevating your mind and enriching your life. All of these resources combined are a collection of knowledge that no one person can ever learn. You have an endless supply of new topics, subjects, skills, and experiences to keep your mind active and strong for the rest of your life!
Footnote: I had a Psychology teacher in my junior year of high school that inspired me, to not only pursue my B.A. in Psychology, but to ultimately write this post. He had a saying he would repeat often in class that always stuck with me which was, "There are three simple things you need to do in order to keep your mind active and strong into old age. Stimulation, stimulation, stimulation". He would go on to explain how stimulation of different areas of the brain, especially the introduction of new stimuli, can help strengthen other areas of brain function as well as improve skills. For example, learning something such as math you may never use will bleed over into your overall systematic thinking and ability to analyze and solve problems. The examples can go on forever, but ultimately the point is, just as your body needs stimulation through activity and craves diversity of stimuli, so does your brain.
Also, remember this doesn't have to be just for you. This can be for anyone you love or care about, at any age. Many years ago I used to get free tickets to our local theater in my home town of Jefferson City, MO through the bank I worked at and I took my little sister to see this native drum performance. It was unlike anything either of us had ever seen and it was amazing! We had a great time, and we both got to experience something new. Now it's a fond memory and a great example of doing something for a loved one to help them elevate their mind. Do the same with your parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors or coworkers. Encourage anyone you care about to elevate their mind. You can do it for free and not only will the benefits last a lifetime, so will the memories.