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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!

Criticism is a comment or judgment made to find fault in an idea. This can be bad for creativity, especially when it comes from a boss or a spouse. When someone produces a new idea, it is likely that they are already a little insecure about it. Criticism often feels like a personal attack. As a result, most people become defensive when criticized and will stubbornly defend their idea even if the criticism has merit.

Criticism has no place in a brainstorm, but once you have selected an idea to pursue, it is a valuable tool. Accepting criticism and using it to improve your ideas are critical to producing quality solutions. Remember that the criticism is not about you; it is about the idea. Try to divorce yourself from your idea and pretend that it just fell out of the sky. This will help you look at it objectively and recognize if the criticism is valid.

Avoid being defensive. Instead, ask lots of clarifying questions and find out what changes the critic would make. Be sure to refer back to the goals so that you aren't solving problems that you do not need to solve. Once you fully understand what the critic is trying to say, you can decide if they have any validity.

A supportive environment that gives good criticism and encourages wild ideas will help people become more comfortable with creativity.

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Nobody wants to hear all the things that are "wrong" with their idea. A bad criticizer uses any opportunity to make themselves feel smart or superior by pointing out everything that they think is bad about an idea. They take advantage of the fact that early ideas will inherently have many flaws and imperfections and they assume that they are in possession of the only "correct" idea.

Good criticism serves to give perspective and help the creator evolve the idea into a better solution. A good criticizer knows that early ideas will always have flaws. A good critic asks lots of questions to try to fully understand the situation before they give their feedback. Additionally, good feedback must avoid the use of negative energy. It is certainly possible to be very critical about an idea without using negative remarks that disrespect the creator and put this person on the defensive.

Instead of pointing out what is wrong, try to offer suggestions. For example, instead of saying, "That knob is way too big!" try saying, "Do you think a smaller knob would allow people with smaller hands to use it more comfortably?" Remember that what you dislike is not the same as what is bad. Try to keep personal opinions to yourself.

Another useful technique is to alternate positive and negative remarks. Point out something that is good for each thing that needs changing. For example, "This button is just the right size and shape, maybe we should think about adjusting the size of this knob to match it." It's like Mary Poppins sang, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down."

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Icebreakers are little exercises that help relax tension and loosen up a formal atmosphere in a meeting where you want to have creative ideas and group participation.

This icebreaker will have everyone laughing:

Break everyone up into small groups of 2 or 3. Give each group a made-up punchline. Each group now has 5 minutes to come up with a joke or story that uses that punchline at the end. The crazier the better! Here are some example punchlines:

1. And that is why you never let a cat go fishing!
2. That proves that elephants don't like hot dogs.
3. Finally he said, "Sir, your computer doesn't have a cigarette lighter."
4. The moral of the story is, "Always wear socks!"

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Icebreakers are little exercises that help relax tension and loosen up a formal atmosphere in a meeting where you want to have creative ideas and group participation.

Here is an icebreaker that will test the group's creativity:

Everyone needs to stand up. Now, going around the group, each person must say the name of an animal that starts with the next letter of the alphabet (Ant, Bear, Cat, etc). When you reach the end of the alphabet, start again at the beginning, using all new animals. If someone can't think of an animal, or repeats an animal, then they are out and must sit down. Keep going around the circle until only one person is left.

You may choose to award a small prize. You may also vary this exercise by picking things other than animals (flowers, foods, movies, names, etc).

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Have you ever attended a really boring lecture, needed to complete a really dull task, or simply been tired when you needed to be alert? In these situations it can be very difficult to concentrate; our minds wander and we are prone to daydreaming. One way to prevent yourself from daydreaming when you don't want to is to put your body into an unfamiliar or uncomfortable position. Maybe you could sit on your hands, curl up your toes, or keep pinching yourself. Try repeatedly contracting and relaxing certain muscles in your body. These actions make it difficult for your mind and body to relax. If you are not relaxed then you will be less like to tune out and start daydreaming.

If you can anticipate when you are going to be put into one of these situations, you could prepare by getting some good sleep. If that isn't possible, you could bring along some props to help you stay alert. For example, if you bring a glass of ice, you could hold an ice cube in your mouth. The coldness from the ice will keep you awake. Experiment with your own ways of keeping your mind and body alert.

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