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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!

Flow is a mental state that was first described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It is characterized by the ability of creative people to block out all distractions and fully immerse themselves in an activity. When someone feels like they are "in the zone" or "in a groove", it is likely that they are experiencing flow.

The unbroken concentration that comes from flow can be refreshing and invigorating. Extreme productivity and highly creative ideas are often the result of a flow experience. People come out of flow feeling happy and fulfilled.

Someone who is experiencing flow may lose their feeling of self-awareness. They will become completely absorbed by the activity and forget about themselves, sometimes ignoring bodily needs, such as eating and sleeping. They may also become unaware of the passage of time and may be surprised when they realize how much time has passed while they were enjoying the activity.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to get into flow on command, but it is possible to shift things in your favor. Reducing disturbances is very important. Each phone call, instant message or other distraction call pull you out of the flow experience. It is also important that the task you are working on posses most of these criteria:

1. The person must have active control over the task.
2. The task must have clear goals and expectations.
3. The task must give immediate feedback, such that mistakes can be quickly corrected.
4. The task must not be so easy that it is boring, but not so difficult that it is frustrating.
5. The activity should be intrinsically rewarding so that participation is its own reward.

To learn more about flow, you can read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book "Flow" at Amazon.com.

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sop

noun :: A conciliatory bribe, gift, or gesture.

"The sop was so good that Levin gave up the idea of going home." --Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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New research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that repeated test taking might be more effective than repeated studying. Students who tested themselves while they studied had better retention of the information than students who simply studied the material without testing themselves.

The improved retention of material was probably a result of the feedback that students received from taking the tests. The students who did not take tests were never able to verify that they had correctly learned the information. Students who did not test themselves came away with a false sense of confidence about their knowledge.

This research suggests that teachers who give their students frequent quizzes may be improving their student's retention of the material better than if they had spent the time discussing the material.

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Similar to how Pavlov's dog had associated food with the sound of a bell, it's possible to program your mind to associate some stimuli with being in a relaxed and calm state. This can be a very effect way of coping with stress.

The first step is to find a trigger that you can use on yourself. It should be something that doesn't happen in a normal day. Maybe it could be sticking a finger in your ear, pinching the back of your hand, or taking a whiff from one of your scent canisters.

The second step is to associate this trigger with the state of being calm and relaxed. Try to conjure up a vivid memory of a time in the past when you were totally at peace. Try to recreate all the sounds, smells and images. Once you think you have a good visualization, program it into your mind by sticking your finger in your ear, or whatever else you have chosen to be your trigger. In the future, whenever you are naturally feeling calm and relaxed you should reinforce your trigger by doing it.

Now that you have programmed your mind to associate the trigger with a relaxed state, you can use it whenever you feel stressed. Simply activate your trigger and you will immediately start feeling more relaxed.

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