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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!

One reason that we may forget a certain fact is because we never really learned it in the first place. This has a lot to do with attention. When your spouse or parent tells you something while you are watching TV, your attention is diverted so you will not acquire the new information. If you want to remember something, you must pay attention to it. A person can only pay attention to one thing at a time; therefore, watching TV or talking on the phone while you do your homework will not achieve optimum results as your attention will constantly be shifting back and forth.

Studies have shown that paying attention to a task is much more important than the time spent on the task. A person who concentrates completely on a task for 15 minutes may remember more than someone who studies it for an hour with the TV going in the background.

To prove that you must pay attention to something to remember it, answer these four simple questions:

1. Which way does Lincoln face on the penny?
2. On a traffic light, is red on the top or bottom?
3. Does water go clockwise or counterclockwise down the drain?
4. How many freckles are on the back of your hand?

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One way to remember a date is to consciously link it to a date or fact that you already know. For example, you could remember someone's birthday by remembering that it is exactly two months and two days after your birthday. There are many dates (birthdays, holidays, anniversaries) that you already know, and it is very easy to link new dates to these using simple mathematics. The linking method works for two reasons. First, it associates a date with another date that you will never forget (for example, your own birthday!). Second, simply figuring out the association will keep you thinking about the date long enough for it to get into your long term memory.

You can also link dates to important facts. For example, if your sports buddy has a birthday on April 9th, you could remember that April 9 is 4/9 which is the 49ers -- San Francisco's football team.

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People are much better at remembering meaningful facts than random facts. This is because the mind takes advantage of all the pre-existing synapses that are already built up in the brain. If you are ever required to memorize facts for a test or meeting, you can improve your ability to remember the facts by organizing the data.

You could organize the material by category, alphabetically, chronologically, or by any other method that will help you group facts and give them some extra meaning. If you can, try to organize the material in several different ways. This will give your mind extra ways to retrieve the facts at a later time. For example, if you learn the names of the presidents of the United States in alphabetical and chronological order, you will have a much better chance at remembering them than if you learned them without any organization whatsoever.

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Take one of your scent canisters and place it next to your bed. When you wake up in the morning, take a deep whiff from the container. This will change up your morning routine and get new neurons firing in new ways. Activating new neural pathways is a great way to keep your mind in shape.

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The sense of smell is one of those underused senses that has a strong connection to memories. You already associate certain smells to certain feelings. For example, the smell of fresh cut grass may be associated with early weekend mornings.

You can easily prepare some scent canisters that contain some of your favorite smells. You can then open the canister to get the scent whenever you want. You could use this to help strengthen certain things that you want to remember, based on the principles of strong associations.

You'll need a film canister or other small airtight container. For scents such as lavender or rosemary, you could crumble the herb into the canister. For liquid scents such as vanilla or citrus, you could put a small piece of sponge inside the container and drop in some of the scent. The scents in these canisters should last several weeks.

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