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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!

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 objective in the Paper Tower challenge is to construct the tallest freestanding tower from a single sheet of paper and a small amount of tape. The tower must be able to stand on its own for at least 10 seconds.

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Here is an exercise to help you practice your visualizations.

Visualize each person that you interacted with today. Focus on each person individually and try to form a clear picture of him or her in your mind. Some things to pay attention to: hair, eyes, height, weight, age, clothing, and mannerisms. If this is your first time visualizing people, you will probably find that faces are difficult to reproduce accurately, but you will get better with practice.

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Whenever you are reading a novel, a magazine or a newspaper, make the extra effort to visualize what you are reading. Try to form a clear mental picture of the events about which you are reading. This will improve your ability to make good visualizations and improve your comprehension and enjoyment of the material. You can also do this if you listen to radio programs or audio books.

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Being able to create visualizations is an important skill for many of the mnemonic techniques that we have discussed for memory improvement. Being able to visualize ideas is also an important trait for the creative thinker. Practicing this skill is a good way to stretch your mental muscles and expand your imagination.

There are two factors that are used to describe your skill at making mental images.

Vividness
This relates to how clear your visualizations are in your mind. Are they in color? Are they in 3D? Do they include sounds, smells and tastes?

Controllability
This relates to how accurately you can control the imagery. Can you retain the images for as long as you want? Can you move the images in your mind? Can you modify your images without excessive effort? Concentration and practice will help you improve the controllability of your visualizations.

Whenever you want to practice, simply close your eyes and visualize an ordinary object. Try to make it as accurate and clear as possible. This not only gives you practice at visualizing, but also encourages you to pay more attention to your environment, which will improve your awareness of what is happening around you.

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The ability to concentrate is an important skill for a creative thinker. Without concentration you will be unable to dig past the trivial things on the surface and get to the interesting stuff the lies beneath the surface.

If you are having difficulty concentrating on a task, try pretending that you are not having trouble. Ask yourself what it would feel like if you were able to concentrate. How would you be sitting? What would you be thinking? Try to think back to a time when you were able to concentrate. How did you feel then? What is different from how you feel now? You can often trick yourself into concentrating if you think about what it would feel like to be doing it.

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