Science of Success

Highly successful millionaires all play brain games—here are 3 science-backed exercises to try today

Elon Musk
Mike Blake | Reuters

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change and adapt by learning new things, and you have the power to increase your brain's growth at any stage of your life.

Some of the world's richest and most successful people recognize the incredible value of neuroplasticity and play brain games to harness this incredible power. Here are three science-approved exercises to try out today:

1. Meditation

Meditation is the practice of focusing one's mind to achieve higher awareness. Large tech companies such as Google and Apple offer mindfulness coaching and meditation to help employees to improve workplace functioning. 

"Transcendental Meditation has probably been the single most important reason for whatever success I've had," Ray Dalio once wrote in a Facebook post. "It is certainly the greatest gift I can give anyone."

Simply giving yourself a few minutes in the day to pause and reflect will help you strategize and work toward your goals.

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2. Video and card games

Games that require problem-solving skills are especially good for your brain. A 2014 University of Wisconsin-Madison study found card and board games challenge your brain and improve mental sharpness.

I only meet people playing ping pong, playing poker, playing backgammon.
James Altucher
entrepreneur and author

Bridge, one of the most challenging and brain-stimulating card games, has widespread appeal among folks in the investment world. Warren Buffett spends up to eight hours a week playing bridge.  Entrepreneur and author James Altucher makes his meetings more fun and productive by incorporating a brain games. "I only meet people playing ping pong, playing poker, playing backgammon," he told CNBC.

And yes, video games also count. Elon Musk and Larry Page are buddies who enjoy gaming together. (Some of Musk's favorites include "Overwatch" and "BioShock.")  According to a 2017 study published in "Frontiers in Human Neuroscience," playing video games "can change the brain regions responsible for attention and visuospatial skills and make them more efficient." 

3. Reading

Reading helps your mind stay balanced and sharp. Self-made millionaire Steve Siebold spent 26 years studying some of the world's wealthiest people and found that the one pastime they all had in common was reading.

Oprah Winfrey, who once said, "Books were my pass to personal freedom," shares her passion for reading with the world through her book club. You can also check out some great book selections from Bill Gates (coincidentally, one of them is about meditation!) and Sheryl Sandberg.

Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the chief investment officer and founder of LexION Alpha.

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