Making your mind your playground
domingo, 18 de novembro de 2007
40 ways to make your mind your playground
Sometimes I feel that my brain is lazy, maybe a little spoiled. While
I work hard to produce something and keep my schedule organized, my
brain keeps thinking what it wants, has no schedule and demands its quota of sugar. I
find this unacceptable! It has to work as hard as the rest of us and more - as my primary weapon against the challenges of the world - it must be flexible, prepared and fit. The idea is based on the concept that you really don’t need to take
notes of everything but instead use your brain as a sandbox.
Emphasizing some subjects will be helpful and you'll remember what really is important at the right time.
This is my list of things that my brain should be doing instead
of being bored in lines, supermarkets and useless presentations. Maybe
you can find something useful.
Keywords are imagination, creativity and flexibility.
01 - Create a memory palace.
This technique is described in Thomas Harris' Hannibal , where you create an imaginary building (based on a real one) in which each room or object is related to something you want to remember.
I tried it once and it worked fine but I need to practice it more.
02 - Fill in and decorate your memory palace.
Adding more details can improve your palace and your memory too.
03 - Create a 100 items list.
Creating great lists can help you focus on what is important for you.
I tried this one once (see my previous article) and despite not using
any of its items directly, I’ve found it both fun and useful.
04 - Create a frog list.
This idea is inspired by the concept Swallow that frog!
Collect things that need to be done but you really don’t want to do (this is the frog you have to swallow). Just remembering the items is already useful.
I have not tried this one yet but I must admit this is sorely needed. It will be my first frog.
05 - Create a 10 list.Pick any relevant issue and create a list of 10 things that
you do to carry it out or in support of it.
E.g. Health: 1. Drink more water; 2. Exercise 60 minutes a day. 3. Use stairs instead of lifts, etc. I’m a fan of this technique.
06 - List good qualities of your friends.
Its always refreshing. I like this one.
07 - List good qualities of your enemies.
I hate this one.
08 - Create quality criteria for your tasks.
At least this makes it measurable. For example this article should have no fewer than 30 suggestions.
09 - Play with forms.
Imagine a square, then rotate it. Fill it with patterns, then fill
it with colors. Create a cube from it then a hypercube. Play with size, shape and
color. After that, play with sounds and smells. Try to feel them like it was real.
It looks like being fun.
10 - Play with body shapes.
Imagine a known face, then imagine it with a mustache, two noses, then
being fat, blonde, without a neck. Alternatively try to create a
chimera with parts of two or three people who you
It looks like being fun.
11- Create a marketing campaign to sell yourself.
Create your own brand. I will try hard on this one because it seems very useful to me.
12- Create a jingle for yourself. Make it unique and fun.
13 - Imagine yourself as a virus.
Inspired by Dawkin's concept of memetics:
How could you be present in the mind of other people as much as it would be possible?
14 - Visualize a perfect body for yourself. Imagine how it could be.
15 - Project a better human head.
This is from Edward De Bono. Experiment with different possibilities (instead of simply adding an extra eye).
16 - Create an aphorism.
Imagine yourself as Garfield. You can start with comparisons, e.g. "Life is like a nail: You
just want to nail it down, but quite often it nails you down."
17 - Write a poem or simply a rhyme.
Everyone has tried to write a poem once. Any one of us is at least a mediocre poet but this should not
prevent us from enjoying the process of creating poetry, or at least a witty phrase. You can even try to borrow some starters e.g.
"She walks in beauty as the night". Just don't publish your work!
18 - Invent new words. This is how Tolkien started.
19 - Meditate, soft focus.
Just pay close attention to your thoughts for a set period of time. Try to see your thoughts as someone else looking back at you. Do not make any judgements. This is harder than it seems.
20 - Meditate, hard focus. Take a concept and try to focus on it without interruption for a set period of
time. It is easier to start with a tangible, known example. The classic one is the rose.
21 - Describe the structure of a movie or a book. Separate the elements of a work of fiction that you know.
Who are the characters, what is the main plot, the secondary ones, etc. You can even propose an
22 - Find improvements in your environment.
Better lighting, flow of people, security, etc. It would be useful if you could, implement this in your workspace.
23 - Imagine entries for your blog.
What would you like to write about?
24 - Take your first baby steps toward writing your next novel.
Start with the title. Mine will be The crimes of Dracula (awful, isn’t it?).
25 - Recall the 5 best moments in your life.
Inspired by the 1970 movie Tribes (a.k.a. The Soldier Who Declared
Peace). It could motivate you before you take on any annoying or challenging task.
26 - Recall as many details as possible the most beautiful image that you ever saw.
Make a mental picture and put it in your memory palace. How do you like it?
27 - Create a VISION for your next software product. If you don’t understand this one, either don't
bother or then read about RUP.
28 - List the main risks that you face right now. Create some prevention strategies.
29 - Start to imagine your personal legend.
Inspired by the cult Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. Be impartial even if you don’t like the author or the concept.
More information in
30 - Create imaginary dialogues with extraordinary people.
Speak with Leonardo da Vinci about your problems.
31 - Imagine conversations without your participation.
What would be a conversation between Einstein, Buddha and Nietsche? What advice would Mark Twain
give Donald Duck about relationships?
32 - Feel your heart beating.
If you can’t, ask someone else. If he can't either, call a doctor.
33 - Be sad for five minutes. Setting the time you allow yourself to feel a negative emotion can be very useful, as I found
If you are sad, angry or something else try to let it run for only 15 minutes, maximum. If
this is hard for you,] try to schedule a time for it. "I will became mad about this tomorrow between 9 and 10".
Nonsense? Well, being mad about something is not reasonable, to start with.
34 - Link three unrelated concepts.
Take some random words and link them into a single concept. Flex your creative muscles.
35 - Create a mind-virtual camera.
This was inspired by O.S. Card's Speaker for the Death.
Imagine that your brain is a movie camera and your eyes the lens. You
are able to record any fact and play it afterwards. Try to
remember things exactly as they were recorded. Alternatively,
you can imagine that you have a spy camera to spy on anything that interests you, it’s all in
your imagination, of course.
I never tried this one but I will for sure because it seems very fun.
36 Create stories about people you don’t know.
You may be able to create some characters for your next novel.
37 - Look at typefaces. Are they adequate? Do they convey the correct
idea, and are they synergetic with the product? Are the size, weight, color adequate to the
message? How can they be improved?
38 - If you play a strategic game (like chess), you can play it in your mind.
39 - Say a mantra. Mantras are repetitive words (or phrases) that are
meant to free your mind from thoughts, allowing you to
concentrate on your senses (this is obviously an oversimplification). The most famous one is "Om mani padme hum" but if
you aren't fond of Buddhism you can try Bene Gesserit's (from Frank Herbert's Dune) "The fear is the killer of the mind".
I find this technique useful and use it from time to time.
40 - Create new ways to make your brain your playground.
This is how I started.
You can see above the practical result of my effort. It took me:
- 1 hour to create the 100 list for my last post
- 1 hour to correct the list (thanks MMJr!)
- 30 minutes to create the first mind map (attached):http://fier.litemind.com/LSF-37ways.jpg/
- 30 min to create the digital mind map (attached):
- 3 hours to write the article
- Some effort from my brain.
Your servant fier.
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