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!
This exercise will help build your mental endurance and concentration. Pick any small number (lets say 3) and start doubling it in your mind.
3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96, 192, 384 ....
How far can you get? Most people have a hard time once they get past 10 doublings. Practice until you can get up to 20 (the 20th doubling of 3 is 3,145,728).
When trying to solve a problem, it is very important to consider alternate solutions instead of forging forward with the first decent idea. Picking one idea and proceeding until a solution is reached is called vertical thinking and this is the type of thinking that is most often taught in our schools. When thinking laterally, you continue to generate ideas even after a promising idea has been produced. A vertical thinker must always be moving usefully in some direction and must be correct at every step. A lateral thinker can wander in different directions to find creative solutions and often must be wrong in order to be right in the end. Lateral thinkers welcome and explore seemingly irrelevant facts or ideas, whereas vertical thinkers shut out all irrelevant data.
There are merits to both types of thinking. If you used only lateral thinking, you would be constantly experimenting and broadening and you would seldom finish anything. If you only used vertical thinking, you could go very far down the wrong path because you failed to find the correct path before starting out. A good compromise would be to use lateral thinking until you have decided on a solution and then switch to vertical thinking to implement that solution.
To test your ability to come up with words in a certain family, try this exercise. Come up with 26 words (one for each letter of the alphabet) for each of the following categories. We have given you the first few to help you get started.
1. Animals (Ant, Bear, Cat, ....)
2. Jobs (Artist, Baker, ...)
3. Plants (Apple Tree, Bamboo, ...)
As we go about our daily lives, we are constantly making decisions based on guesses and estimates. This exercise will help you improve your ability to make educated guesses about distance.
When you are estimating each answer, try to pay attention to how you are solving the problem. Are you guessing the whole number or are you trying to calculate it based on smaller guesses? Avoid using a calculator or pen and paper until after you have made your estimate.
1. Distance to the moon in miles
2. Length of a AA battery in millimeters
3. Thickness of a standard #2 pencil in inches
4. Height of a stack of a million dollar bills in feet
The answers are listed below in backwards order. Don't cheat!
(417, 0.29, 50.4, 238856)
This exercise will demonstrate how important it is to draw your ideas, as opposed to simply writing them down.
Get out a piece of paper and draw a picture of a shoe. Make sure to draw in all the details such as the logo, laces, treads, etc.
Now, write a paragraph describing in detail every piece of your picture. Imagine that you are having a telephone conversation with an alien who has no idea what a shoe is. You might start with something like this, "This item is about 10 inches by 3 inches by 4 inches. The bottom is made of rubber and is in the shape of a..."
Which part of this exercise was easier? You probably found that it was very difficult to describe certain shapes or aspects that were easy to draw. Do you think the drawing or the text would more quickly convey the idea of a shoe to an alien?