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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!

If you have a digital camera, carry it with you for an entire day and keep a lookout for things that you think are creative or interesting. Take a picture of these things. Go for at least 100 photos. If you are having a hard time, try to focus on the little details. A book could have a creative title or a pile of paper clips could be in an interesting arrangement. At the end of the day, review the photos and pick your favorite 5 things. What makes these things interesting to you? By doing this exercise you will be increasing your awareness of the creative aspects of things that are all around you. The photographs are also a good source of inspiration that you can turn to when you are stuck on a problem. Sometimes seeing other creative solutions will help you discover your own.

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One technique that will help you improve your creativity is to start expressing your ideas visually. Using words to describe your thoughts allows you to see them in only one way. If you can diagram, map, or sketch your ideas, you will see them from different perspectives and be better able to communicate them to others. Drawing your ideas also helps you to refine your ideas or find better solutions. You may find that in drawing your solution you notice a flaw that you never would have discovered otherwise.. An investment in a good drawing book (we recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards) will greatly increase your ability to express your ideas visually.

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These letter exercises will help increase your concentration and mental endurance. The better you become at focusing your attention on the task, the faster you will get at each exercise.

1. Recite the alphabet backwards.
2. Recite the alphabet skipping every other letter. (A, C, E, G, ...)
3. Try spelling two words by alternating one letter at a time (example with words "carrot" and "potato": cpaortraotto)
4. Pick a word and spell it. Then shift it by a letter and spell again. Repeat. (example: RELAX, ELAXR, LAXRE, AXREL, ...)

Remember, this is a mental exercise, so try to do it with your eyes closed.

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This exercise improves your ability to create vivid and accurate visual images.

Find a nearby object and stare at it for a few seconds. Now close your eyes and notice that there is an afterimage of the object that fades after a few seconds. Try to turn this afterimage into a visualization and retain it in your mind when the afterimage fades. Open your eyes and look at the object again. You will notice things that you didn't see before. Close your eyes and try to visualize the object again and incorporate the details that you missed the first time. Repeat this process until you are able to retain a clear image of the object in your mind for several seconds after the afterimage fades. With practice you will be able to create detailed images in your mind from any object that you see.

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Engineering challenges are fun activities that are frequently assigned to students in physics or engineering classes, but they can easily be used outside of these venues. An engineering challenge usually has a simple goal and some rules about what sorts of materials you are allowed to use. These are great ways to get people thinking creatively and to foster teamwork and competition. Try an engineering challenge at a birthday party, office outing, scout meeting, or any other gathering where you want to have fun and exercise your creativity.

The Spaghetti Cantilever challenge is a fun one. Each team is given a small package of spaghetti, a roll of tape and a table. The objective is to construct a cantilevered structure that extends as far from the table as possible without touching the ground. The structure must be attached to the top of the table and nowhere else. Because spaghetti is very brittle, the engineering becomes very important. Measurements should be taken from the edge of the table to the furthest point of the spaghetti structure.

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