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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!

Asking questions is an important ability for a creative person to have. As children, we probably asked our parents a bunch of questions. As we grow older, we tend to ask fewer and fewer questions. This is because once we reach a certain age, the questions become difficult enough that a parent or teacher may not have the patience or knowledge to answer them and this discourages us from asking further questions. The other reason why adults do not ask questions is because it is an admission of ignorance and people do not like appearing ignorant. As a result people frequently will nod their heads and agree to things that they do not understand.

A creative thinker overcomes these obstacles and asks questions. In reality, asking questions doesn't make you appear stupid; it shows your inquisitive nature and often reveals how much more you know about something than the person you are asking. Not to mention that the question you are asking is probably the same one that everyone else in the room has in the back of their minds. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain from asking questions.

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Different sensory inputs have different importance to different people. A chef relies heavily on his sense of taste, a musician depends on her sense of hearing, and a masseuse uses her sense of touch more than the average person. A good problem-solver uses all of their senses to find solutions to problems. If you always ignore your sense of smell, you will never invent a solution that uses smell.

When you are exploring some problem, pay attention to all of your senses. For example, if you are designing a new shoe, pay attention to the smell of the leather used in making the shoe. Pay attention to the texture of the fabric. Feel your foot and get a good idea for what a foot feels like. Listen to what sounds the shoe makes. Does it squeak when you walk?

A good way to focus some attention on your other senses is to deprive yourself of the ones you use most often. Wear a blindfold and try to use your remaining senses to think about the problem. You can block out the other senses using similar methods (earplugs to block hearing, for example).

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This exercise will test your ability to use your underused sense of touch to visualize and draw an unknown object.

You will need to find several objects whose shape cannot be immediately identified. For example, a pair of scissors would be a bad choice. Try to find some uncommon objects like small toys or machine parts. Place these objects into an opaque bag or box and instruct people to feel inside the bag for an object. They should explore the object with their fingers and then try to draw it from memory. Have someone else find some objects for you to use.

After you have finished your drawing, remove the actual object and compare. How close did you get? With practice, you will get better at visualizing and drawing objects from memory.

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Everyone has their own unique viewpoint on a problem. It is difficult to put ourselves into other people's shoes and see the problem from their perspective, but this can lead us to find better solutions to the problem.

Think of a problem that you currently have that involves at least one other person. Get out some paper and write down a description of the problem from each person's point of view. Show each description to the person it corresponds with and have them comment on your accuracy. This exercise is a good way to see a problem from different perspectives and understand where the other people are coming from.

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In Caffeine I, we talked about what caffeine is and how it works on the mind. In addition to working as a brain stimulant, caffeine has also been shown to improve athletic performance and endurance.

Two additional things to keep in mind about caffeine are that it is a diuretic and it causes increased calcium loss. So, if you consume caffeine, you should make sure that you are drinking enough water to avoid dehydration and that you are getting enough calcium in your diet.

It's probably a good idea to limit your caffeine intake to 250mg per day (less if you are pregnant). Unfortunately, companies rarely label their products with the amount of caffeine that they contain. Here is a little chart to help you.

Drip Coffee (8oz)95mg
Instant Coffee (8oz)85mg
Decaf Coffee (8oz)3mg
Espresso (1oz)40mg
Coffee Ice Cream (1 cup)50mg
Brewed Tea (8oz)50mg
Instant Tea (8oz)28mg
Iced Tea (8oz)25mg
Snapple Tea42mg
Cocoa (8oz)6mg
Chocolate Milk (8oz)5mg
Chocolate Bar10mg
Mountain Dew56mg
Diet Coke47mg
Coke35mg
Pepsi38mg
Barq's Root Beer23mg
NoDoz Max Strength200mg
NoDoz Regular Strength100mg

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