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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

Motivation is the feeling that causes us to perform actions. Hunger motivates us to eat, boredom motivates us to play and loneliness motivates us to make friends. Without motivation of some sort, we wouldn't accomplish much.

Motivation can be described as either direct or indirect. Direct motivation is like hunger. The action that you perform (eating) directly satisfies the need (hunger). Indirect motivation is a little more complicated because there is something in between the action and the fulfilled need. For example, money may be an indirect motivation to work hard. Money by itself is useless unless you spend it on something, like your rent or mortgage. Having a place to live is the motivation to work hard and money sits in the middle as an indirect motivator.

Motivation can also be described in terms of intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is something that you do for no other reason than your own enjoyment. Reading a book or having a hobby are good examples. Extrinsic motivation uses rewards, such as money, to encourage you to do something that you may not want to do on your own. A combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be a powerful force. If you enjoy what you are doing and get rewarded for it, you are certainly going to keep doing it!

Intrinsic motivation and creativity are closely interrelated. If you don't enjoy what you are doing, your mind will not be in the right state to think creatively. Finding ways to turn dull tasks into interesting activities is an important skill to learn if you want to be creative in everything that you do. Our Mentalrobics activities can help you learn how to do this.

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The brain is made up of a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere, which are connected in the middle by a bundle of nerves called the corpus callosum. Each side of the brain controls the opposite side of your body. When your left hand moves, it's the right side of your brain that is telling it to do so, and vice versa. Each side also processes information in different ways; the left side tends to be the rational side and the right side tends to be more intuitive or artistic. People are often dominant in one side or the other. Since the thinking process is improved when both hemispheres participate, strengthening your less dominant side is a good idea. If you are right-brained, you might try some logic brain teasers and if you are left-brained, you might try some of our Mentalrobics exercises for creativity.

Some additional characteristics of each hemisphere:

Left Hemisphere

Handles verbal tasks (reading, writing, talking)
Solves problems logically
Looks at differences
Prefers multiple choice tests
Likes to plan and structure information
Prefers analytical tasks

Right Hemisphere

Looks for patterns or similarities
Is fluid and spontaneous
Acts upon hunches or guesses
Handles visual tasks (like drawing)
Prefers open-ended questions
Synthesizes ideas
Handles aesthetic appreciation

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Have you ever had the problem where you have a deadline for a project and can't think of a satisfactory solution before the deadline, but then as soon as the deadline passes, a better solution springs to mind? This happens because your unconscious mind is an extremely important player when it comes to creativity. You must learn to start projects early and take breaks to give your unconscious mind time to ponder the problem. Pulling an "all-nighter" to finish up a project right before the deadline will never result in the best solution because your unconscious will never have a chance to process the problem.

It is also important to make sure that you allow your mind to relax during these breaks. If you are too stressed out, your mind will not be able to get into a state where your unconscious can freely think about the problem.

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Emotional blocks can affect our ability to communicate our creative ideas to others. One of these emotional blocks is a fear of taking risks and making a mistake. Another block is the predilection to judge ideas prematurely. This is why deferring judgment is a strategy used by creative people.

Another emotional block is the inability to tolerate chaos or ambiguity. New ideas are by nature not perfect. They are going to be rough around the edges and may have conflicting points. Through an iterative refinement process, you will be able to resolve these ambiguities.

The lack of a challenge can also be an emotional block. If you are not challenged, then you are not going to be interested in the outcome and it is unlikely that you will be able to put a lot of creative energy into new and interesting ideas. Picking problems that interest you, or finding ways to add excitement to uninteresting problems will help.

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If you are ever stuck in a meeting or brainstorm session where people are out of ideas or unable to agree on an issue, ask this question to get people thinking differently:

What would your mother do in this situation?

Not only does this infuse some humor into the situation, but it usually makes people a little more agreeable and a little less judgmental. After all, it's not very polite to disparage someone's mother. By thinking about what your mother would do, you are also forcing yourself to think about alternate solutions which can help come up with interesting ideas.

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