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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!

Most people would agree that children are generally more creative than adults. Children draw more, ask more questions and come up with interesting ideas. There are two commonly held theories about why we lose our creativity as we age.

The first theory is that as we age, we become more and more aware of practical constraints such as gravity or economics. Working within these constraints prevents us from fully utilizing our imaginations. We must suspend our disbelief in order to be mentally playful.

The second theory is that our culture socializes creative properties out of people. When we are young we are encouraged to draw and play, but as we get older more emphasis is placed on more cerebral activities such as math and reading. Children are slowly trained that being able to do arithmetic is more important than being creative.

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A creative person must have a vivid imagination that is free to create without constraint. When you are imagining things, you do not need to be bound by the laws of physics or other rules that govern our normal lives. Set yourself free to explore what you could do under any circumstances. If you come up with a fruitful idea you might be able to modify it to work in reality.

To spark some interesting ideas you could ask yourself some "What if?" questions that break a rule. For example, you could ask yourself how you would solve the problem if you had the strength of Superman. Or, you could ask, "What if cost were not a factor?"

Another important aspect of imagination is to use all of your senses. We already know that using all of your senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) can help you make long lasting memories. Your senses can also be used to enhance creativity. If you think only verbally, then your solutions will be predominantly verbal. Try to imagine smells, sounds and textures when you are thinking about a problem.

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It is very important that people be challenged by a project if they want to have a high likelihood of coming up with creative solutions. Without a challenge, the process is no longer rewarding and the incentive to innovate is not there. If you find yourself in a situation where a project seems too easy, try to find some way to spice it up. Maybe you could find a new way to do it that makes it challenging. Try to add some new element to the project that makes it interesting.

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Deferring judgment is an important rule for brainstorming sessions, and it's just as important for working with your own ideas. If you judge an idea too quickly, you will reject many ideas that have real potential. Early ideas are easy to reject because they are imperfect, but they can be improved and embellished. Sometimes the best ideas come from combining parts of several imperfect ideas.

If you feel yourself jumping to judge or reject an idea (either your idea or someone else's idea), take a moment and allow yourself to recognize that not all ideas spring forth from the mind in perfect order.

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Icebreakers are little exercises that help relax tensions and loosen up a formal atmosphere in a meeting where you want to have creative ideas and group participation.

Everyone stands up and one person is chosen to start. This person asks a question like, "If you have a pet dog, sit down." Some people will sit down and some people will remain standing. The person then asks another question and more people sit down. When there is only one person left standing, it becomes his or her turn to lead the game. This is a fun way to get to know people and create a team atmosphere.

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