Lots of people do brain exercises, often in the form of brain games. You’ve probably even tried a few, right?
That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s a catch:
Playing brain exercise games on your “smart phone” is not necessarily brain exercise. Not by a long shot.
Brain Exercises Or Brain Thinners?
In fact, some of those brain games don’t exercise your brain at all.
You don’t have to take my word for it either. Just check out all the people on this live call who totally agreed:
Instead of helping you, those apps train your brain to get good at completing tasks within the world of those apps. The mental fitness doesn’t apply to other parts of your life.
And as we discussed in the video above, your memory and brain fitness exercises need to be both the dojo and the exercise.
If you’re exercising your brain on an abstract level but not directing the fitness at specific life improvement goals, you’re missing out. Your brain fitness must be targeted at specific goals so you get tangible results.
And if you’d like brain exercises that do improve your mind and give you a great mental workout that matters, give the following easy exercises a try. I promise they’ll be fun and give you a memory improvement boost in a short period of time.
1. The 4-Details Observation Exercise
Gary Small talks about memorizing four details of people you encounter out in public.
For example, let’s say someone is wearing a gray sweater, black hat, red belt and green shoes. The goal is to observe the details first and then recall them later.
Some scientists call brain exercises like these “passive memory training.” They’re passive because you’re not using any special memory techniques. You’re just asking your mind to do what it was designed to do: remember.
Why does this matter?
It matters because we don’t ask our minds to practice observation enough. For that reason, we fail to observe. We also fail to observe things that we aren’t seeing, such as by making visual images of movements we hear in other rooms. I teach about how to complete this simple visualization and memory exercise in this video:
If you’d like to be a better observer of the world around you, this exercise will help. It’s also scalable, meaning that you can start with observing just one person per day. Once you’ve gotten good at recalling four details of just one person, you can add more information or more people (or both).
If you like, you can also notice details about buildings, cars, movies or series, foods that improve memory, etc. But focusing on people is the more potent because being observant of others around you is a great social skill.
2. Number Brain Exercises
That Skyrocket Your Concentration
I can’t emphasize this enough: numeracy is a powerful skill. It’s something I work on myself as often as possible, both with and without memory techniques in play.
“Add 3 Minus 7” is a fun brain exercise you can try today. To get started, all you do is pick any 3-digit number. Then, add 3 to that digit 3 times. Then minus 7 from the new number 7 times.
Repeat the process at least 5 times and pick a new 3-digit number the next time. You can also start with a 4-digit number and use other numbers to play with. For example, you could start with 1278 and add 12, 12 times and minus 11, 11 times.
It’s up to you and the amount of numbers dictate the level of challenge. This brain exercise also strengthens your working memory because of the amount of detail you need to hold in mind to complete it.
3. Repeat What People Say In Your Mind
We all know in our hearts that no one is really listening when we speak. And that’s sad.
But here’s the good news: You don’t have to be another person who is just nodding your head like a puppet while actually thinking about something else.
You can train yourself to focus on what people are telling you and remember everything they say.
It all begins by creating presence in the moment in an easy way: Follow the words being spoken to you by repeating them in your mind.
For example, imagine that someone is saying the following to you:
“Tomorrow I want to go to a movie called Memory Maverick. It’s about a guy who cannot forget. He’s hired by a group known only as ‘The Agency’ to infiltrate a competitor. But once the hero learns the secrets, he doesn’t want to hand them over. But since he can’t forget, The Agency starts making his life miserable.”
All you would need to do to complete this brain exercise is repeat everything in your mind. You’ll automatically remember more by doing this.
To remember even more, you can create pictures in your head.
For example, you might see an image of Mel Gibson as he looked in the movie Maverick trying to remember something.
Or you might get a picture in your mind of an agency building and scenes of evil men in suits torturing the hero. Any images you create will help you become a living, breathing mnemonics dictionary.
It can be a bit awkward to repeat back information like this to people to practice your concentration and memory powers, but you can write an email later from memory: “Hey, did you manage to see Memory Maverick? That whole thing with infiltrating ‘The Agency’ for those secrets and not wanting to hand them over sure sounded cool. What did they wind up doing to make the hero’s life more miserable?”
For more brain exercises on remembering what people are saying, check out this interview with Jim Samuels on the Magnetic Memory Method Podcast. He has some great ideas and the benefits include:
- Being more present.
- Remembering more of what was said.
- Showing people that you’re interested in them and their lives.
- Easing conflicts when they arise because you remember the issues in greater detail.
You feel better about your connection to people because you’re really with them.
4. The Metronome-Clapping Exercise
Back in grad school, I had a great professor named Matthew Clark. For some reason, he told our class in Classical Literature about a great concentration exercise that I’ve practiced ever since.
It’s simple: You put on a metronome at a slow speed and then practice “covering the click.”
I don’t think this brain exercise helps memory in any direct way, but it’s excellent for improving concentration and presence. Both concentration and presence are skills we all need and the more we have, the more we can remember by default.
The better you get at this exercise, the longer the amount of time between clicks you should place. To accurately cover the metronome with a minute between clicks would be impressive!
5. Create A Memory Palace
The ultimate brain exercise on the planet is also the easiest. It involves nothing more than a simple drawing that follows some simple principles.
Why is creating a Memory Palace such a powerful exercise?
First, creating a Memory Palace draws upon your spatial memory. As far as brain exercises go, this one works kind of in reverse. Why? Because you’re accessing cues that are usually blueprinted on your mind outside of your awareness.
Think about it: You’ve rarely gone into a new home or store with the conscious intent of memorizing its features. Yet, if you think back to the last home of a friend you visited, you can probably recall an insane amount of detail. Creating a Memory Palace lets you exercise that inborn ability.
Second, creating a Memory Palace is creating a tool that you can use for life. Once you have one and you’ve mastered using it, you can create dozens more.
And if you can do that, you can do great things with your memory, like how Matteo Ricci learned Chinese in record time. You can also remember names at events with ease and accomplish any goal in which memory plays a role.
And what goal doesn’t involve memory?
If you’d like to learn how to create a Memory Palace following the good rules of the Magnetic Memory Method, my FREE Memory Improvement Kit will take you through the entire process. It includes videos, worksheets and more to get you up to speed on this important talent.
Improve Your Mind With
Brain Exercises And Conquer Any Problem
At the end of the day, brain exercises are best when they help you solve problems. Forgetting important details, for example, harms us day in and day out. You now have a brain exercise that will assist you with that.
Not being able to focus on numbers leads us into making all kinds of mistakes. The simple game you’ve just learned is just one step towards improved numeracy skills and a better memory.
You’ve also learned to listen better, be more present and develop concentration for extended periods of time. In many ways, repeating the words of others in your mind or “covering the click” are forms of meditation, a skill known to improve memory.
You Now Have The Best Of The Best
Finally, you have the opportunity to create a Memory Palace. This simple, ancient invention will also improve your concentration while letting you remember anything. I’m not sure I believe in left brain exercises versus right brain exercises, but I’m confident that if such things exist, the Memory Palace covers them both.
Combined, all of these mind fitness activities will improve your life. They all serve as great brain exercises for kids too, so please pass them on to the young people in your life. On that note, they’re also great brain exercises for seniors, so don’t ignore that branch of your family and social circles either. People of all ages want to keep mentally fit!
Turn Your Dream Of Operating
A Fully Fit Mind Into Reality
When you regularly complete brain exercises, you’ll feel filled with pride. Few people have the gumption to take consistent action, after all.
Your commitment to what Tony Buzan calls “mental literacy” means you should celebrate. Consistently completing brain exercises should be rewarded, so be sure to factor that in.
You don’t have to think hard about giving yourself the perfect gift, though. The brain fitness that comes from regularly completing brain exercises is its own reward.
Oh, and here are a few more brain exercises for when you’re feeling depressed: