How many of you stretch regularly? Physically stretch? I don’t do it nearly enough, but I know it’s important in keeping your body limber and flexible. It opens you up. And I’m sure it provides a whole host of other benefits as well.
How have you stretched your mind lately? What are you doing to exercise your brain, to stimulate your thinking, to learn something new or novel? Like your physical self, stimulating your mental self is also important in keeping fit.
So what ways can you stretch your mind? Let me share a few ideas, and welcome your suggestions of other ones.
1) Read something new or different – in this video world, reading seems to have taken a back seat. Plunge into a new book and discover a new world. Get away from fiction and learn something new in the process. Don’t know what to read? Start with the best seller list – books are usually there for a reason. And don’t forget audio books for those who have long commutes and don’t have time to read. Differ your reading as well so that you’re reading a variety of sources. I’ve just read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and am currently reading The Post American Mind. I break that up with Clive Cussler and other light stuff.
2) Watch something new or different. I haven’t forgotten that this is the video generation. It’s easy to watch something – either on TV or your PC. I’ve been amazed at how many “old” clips have found their way to youtube – it’s not just about new videos, many historical and classic clips are there as well. Explore and see what you can find, rather than just watching the same old thing. Plunge into other cultures, other worlds, other times.
3) Museums and exhibitions. Go to a museum and learn something new. Whether it’s a museum or place you haven’t been to or an exhibit that’s new, find new and interesting places to visit and learn. We went to the Frazier International History Museum in Louisville in December and found it one of the most well-done, informative museums I have been to.
4) Take a class, meet someone new, have a conversation. It always amazes me how often we can find something in common with someone new and how we can open up our minds to new ideas by having a discussion with someone we hadn’t known before. As you connect, see what new ideas and thoughts are stimulated in your conversation. A great place to connect is through taking a new class or going to lecture or presentation. This is where you can find real gems and ideas that can improve your life, work, or just open up your thinking.
5) Write a blog! So many times we have thoughts swirling around in our head and like Dumbledore in Harry Potter, if we don’t pull them out of our head they just stay swimming there and we eventually lose them. Whether it’s a blog, a journal, a diary, or someplace you want to capture your thoughts, do so and come back to them at a later time. They can lead you in so many ways.
6) Explore your creativity. Whether it’s puzzle books, crosswords, or brainstorming sessions, be sure to exercise your thinking in the box and out of the box. The great thing about the mind is there are no boundaries around it. At work, we’ve started thinking about lock-ins – what concepts are we locked into and what if we challenged those locks? Break out of your own lock-ins, and add some creative challenges to your life.
In conclusion, I hope these ideas give you some ways to stretch your mind and open yourself up to continual new ideas, thoughts, and even habits. Like physical exercise, we all need to stretch our brains regularly.