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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!

an-cil-lar-y

adj. :: Subservient or subordinate; of secondary importance; auxiliary.

"For Degas, sculpture was never more than ancillary to his painting" --Herbert Read.

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The Loci system for remembering items works well because the human mind can remember where you learned something almost as well as what you learned. You've probably had the experience where you knew exactly where a piece of information was located but you couldn't remember the actual information itself.

The memory of where the information is located can be a helpful cue for remembering the information itself. For example, to remember the names of your neighbors, you could mentally walk down the street and picture people in front of their house.

You can also take advantage of location when you are taking notes or preparing study material. Instead of making a vertical list of items to be remembered, organize the items on the page in a logical way. For example, if you are memorizing foreign words, you might put the nouns along the left side of the page and the verbs along the right side. The location of the word on the page will help you remember it during recall. Mind mapping, diagrams, and charts are note-taking strategies that can help you organize information visually on a page. Spatially organized notes with diagrams and drawings work better than regular notes in an outline format.

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Chronic stress can cause an imbalance in the neurochemicals that contribute to elevating our mood and reducing anxiety. Fortunately, research has shown that you can reduce the imbalance simply by smiling or laughing, regardless of your actually mood. When you smile or laugh, your brain gets fooled into thinking that it is happy, and releases the corresponding neurochemicals. Laughter has been shown to have the following benefits.

1. Lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol
2. Reducing blood pressure
3. Boosting the immune system
4. Improving respiration and circulation
5. Reducing pain
6. Reducing depression and improving mood

If you are having a hard time getting motivated to do something and you need a pick me up, try smiling or laughing out loud. It may sound silly, but it can actually improve your mood and get you thinking more creatively. So, when life gives you a frown, turn it upside down!

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Stereotyping is an inescapable habit of the human mind. You are constantly making stereotypes without even knowing it. The mind simply cannot store every detail about everything that passes through it, so it tries to simplify things by sorting them into groups that are consistent with information that already resides in your memory.

For example, without looking at it, try to imagine what the face of your watch looks like. Does it have numbers for the hours or is it just implied? Are there any words printed on the front? What color are the hands? Chances are you cannot remember every detail of your watch even though you look at it several times a day. This is because your mind knows how to deal with watches so it stereotypes your watch and forgets about all the inconsequential details.

Topics that are important to you are unlikely to be heavily stereotyped, whereas unfamiliar topics will be heavily stereotyped. If you are uninterested in mountain climbing, it is very likely that you have a bunch of stereotypes about that particular sport. However, an avid mountain climber knows so much about the topic that few stereotypes remain.

Stereotypes can also affect the way you unconsciously feel about something. If you are allergic to bees, it might be difficult for you to think of them as beneficial insects that you might want in your garden.

Just being aware that your mind is full of stereotypes will help you look at things with an open mind. The next time you are trying to solve something, ask yourself if there are any stereotypes that are constraining your thinking.

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