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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Exercise an Open Mind

Simply put, doing unique, random, different, and ridiculous things is a good way to exercise the mind and promote new ways of thinking about the world around us. One hour of increased brain activity via thinking a lot or experiencing new stimuli can make you smarter, more energetic, more creative, more sociable, and more open to new experiences and ways of thinking. Here are some of the endless numbers of activities that can stimulate your brain. The key ingredients are to be open to new experiences, and changes in previous ways of thinking about these experiences.
This is the steps

1. Use your imagination to create Stimulate your ears differently. Try different music you haven't tried before: Classical, New Age, Zouk, Rap, Mariachi, Country, Afro-Blues. You don't have to like it at first, but if you keep an open mind, you can still find it interesting. Listen to a radio station you typically don't listen to.
2. Stimulate your eyes in new ways. Go to a cheap or free art gallery. Even if you think it's bad art, it can still be stimulating and thought provoking.
3. Learn about different people and lifestyles. A great gateway into this is Wikipedia, where you can read articles on a wide variety of practices, such as Swinging, Wicca, Christianity, the Green Party, Conservatism, Communism, Anarchism, Sunnis, Discordianism, Tutsis, and the Yakuza. Consider how many members they have worldwide. Volunteer with an organization that works with a community of people you are unfamiliar with.
4. While waiting (in line at the bank, a coffee shop, a restaurant, the grocery store, or waiting for someone to pick you up, or a show on TV to start), ponder things, calculate, memorize. You can, for example, memorize digits of Pi (you can get to 50 in a matter of hours, 200 in a matter of weeks), try to remember all of your high school teachers' names, memorize Prime Numbers, get fast at reciting the alphabet backwards, the Greek alphabet (forwards and backwards), remember how many movies Tom Cruise has been in, try Doubling numbers, start at 1, to 2, to 4, to 8, till you get to larger numbers than you can handle.
5. Take unusual classes. Find a community college or community-based educational program near you, pick up a catalog, and open your mind to learning things like Art History, Underwater Basketweaving, First Aid training, or Business Ethics. Your local university likely offers easy survey courses with no prerequisites, such as Meteorology, Nutrition, Japanese Pop Culture, etc. How awesome would it be to know basic Meteorology? You could even find unexpected topics such as Vampires and Werewolves. Learn different languages (Esperanto, Japanese, French, Arabic, Italian, Navajo, etc.) especially those with roots very different from your own.
6. Join clubs based on things you have no knowledge of, such as a Scrabble Club, an Investment Club, etc.
7. Watch movies in genres that you normally don't partake in, such as Cyberpunk, scary, Anime, documentaries, stand up comedy (Eddie Izzard,etc. Mitch Hedberg). IMDb is a great site to look for movies that other people enjoy. They break them down by genre as well. Remember to be open-minded about things you don't know about.
8. Learn how to write backwards. Leonardo DaVinci, the quintessential Renaissance man and a jack-of-all-trades, wrote all of his notes backwards so that they could only be read with a mirror. Or try writing upside down. None of these is as hard as it might seem; you'll soon get the hang of it.
9. Read back-wards or upside down as well!
10. Watch shows that you don't watch or that you often discriminate against, even though you have never watched them. Do you hate the O.C.? Even if you still dislike it or find it comical, try it once or twice. Try a soap opera: It's fun! Try new genres, like science fiction or fantasy. Watch the Spanish channels; watch the religious channels; watch the Discovery channel; watch the Travel channel; or if you do watch all those channels, try not watching television at all for a week ... Thus, you will have the time to try everything else posted in this page!
11. Build ridiculous things like radios, legos, robots, trebuchets.
12. Walk backwards through your whole house. (But be extra careful not to trip over anything, or fall down the stairs)
13. Try foods you have never tried. Have you tried sushi? Have you tried Vietnamese? Mediterranean? Indian? Native-American? Cajun? Have you ever tasted a Boba? A shot of Wheatgrass? Have you smoked a hookah? Have you eaten durian or the Filipino delicacy, balut? Think it's unhealthy? Do you know it's unhealthy? Look it up.
14. Push the limits of your body. By using your body in new ways, you can learn more about yourself, and expand your mind. Learn to do a handstand. A backflip. A kip-up. Take martial arts classes. Try some Hip-Hop classes or learn a break dance move. Can you touch your toes? Work on it. Try skiing, snowboarding, jet skiing, Hang gliding, parasailing, surfing, and anything else that pushes the limits of your comfort zone!
15. Attend churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, trade union meetings, places of worship and meditation that you never have. Read about and learn how to recognize cults or cult-like behavior and avoid them!
16. Learn How to Spin a Pencil Around Your Thumb, solve a Rubik's Cube, or try Cup Stacking. Don't know what these are? Look them up. Learn!
17. Face your fears! Are you computer-illiterate? Putz around on a computer for a while. Don't be scared. You won't break anything. Learn a programming language. Nothing is as hard as anyone makes it out to be. Build your own computer. Think it's hard? You'll never know until you actually do it. It's somewhat ridiculous how many HowTo's there are on building a computer.
18. Learn to juggle. A great workout for your brain, eyes and reflexes. Are three balls too easy? Try four, or better yet, five. If you get extremely good, try 10! 20! 50! Think it's impossible? Keep an open mind. Just Try Try Try! Contact Juggling for a different challenge.
19. Open your mind to other political or religious points of view. You may find it hard to stomach at first, but in time you might find a grain of truth in what your nemesis has to say. Even if you don't, you'll be able to argue with one of "them" much more intelligently. Here's a hard but effective method: take a controversial issue that you have a strong opinion about. Write an essay defending your opinion with as much evidence and actual citations as possible. Then write another essay defending the other side, again with evidence and citations, considering that side's arguments seriously and being scrupulously honest and putting in as much effort as you did the first essay.
20. Try blocking out one of your senses. Do everyday things, like cleaning up your room or using your cell phone, with a blindfold. It puts things in perspective when you are forced to "create" new ways of doing things you've already figured how to do. You could also try using a different part of your body to do things, like write with your teeth or type with your toes.
21. Play strategy games like Bridge, Checkers, Chess, Shogi and Go! It's the poetry of the mind!
22. Travel - becoming an outsider really exposes a mind to new things. You can even do this travel inside your country or state! How well do you know your own city? Have you tried using only a bike, or only using your own two feet and public transportation? (Ever considered what it's like if that was the only means to get around, say if you were physically unable to drive around? Being a pedestrian once in a while will make you a better driver.) Go off the beaten path!
23. Learn to read and write any language that you don't know. Here are a few ideas: Portuguese, Spanish, German, Arabic, Aramaic, Mandarin, Maltese, Cantonese, Russian, Latin, Welsh and Dutch.
24. Learn to count in a different numeral base than the one you're used to (chances are you're using decimal), use binary (base 2), octal (base 8), duodecimal (base 12),hexadecimal (base 16), vigesimal (base 20 used in mayan numerals) or another numeral system when you start getting familiar with basic operations, try converting from one system to another. Next step is mixing different systems in a single operation. For added fun do the next advice and throw some of that in this (one day you might be able to multiply rot13 encoded hexadecimal by xor'ed vigesimal.
25. Learn classical cipher schemes and algorithms.
26. Give some thought to the mysteries of the world. Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Or think about places like the Bermuda Triangle: why do so many people disappear? Check out books and sites on these strange topics.
27. Search for something on Wikipedia, read the page then click on one of the links on the page you find interesting, read that page and carry on and on, eventually you'll have come across loads of new information and it gets you interested in loads of subjects.

some Tips

* Be thrifty. Yeah, building a trebuchet is a $200+ project, so go for the Legos instead, Build-a-Lego-Trebuchet. If the university is $400 per credit, try a smaller college or community-based program where less money is charged for a similar experience.
* Remember that "the perfect student is one who always stumbles but never falls." Don't give up! The Rubik's Cube probably looks somewhat impossible until you've solved the white cross. Go for it.
* Every decision you make in life is based on your belief system. To open your mind, start to list your fundamental beliefs, and for each one ask yourself why you believe it. Then ask yourself whether you could imagine being you if you didn't exactly believe it any more, but believed something marginally different. Then marginally different from that. Pick a belief a week and work at it. Ask some really good friends what they believe and how they acquired their beliefs. Understand this - your belief system is absolutely unique to you. Your friend's belief system is unique to them. An open mind is comfortable with differences, and also a variety of lenses to view an issue.
* Try to become more like an inquisitive child. Try to see everything as if it's the first time, and try to think about it in new ways. Think you know what a brick is? Really? What are they made of, exactly? How heavy is the average brick? How many different types of laying a brick wall are there? Is it possible to lay a cheese brick wall, using cheddar for bricks, and cream cheese for mortar?!