Most of us would like to strengthen our memory and increase our creativity. It‘s easy! Here are practical hints for accomplishing these goals.
- Your mind, like the rest of your body, needs exercise in order to function well.
- Do word puzzles or play games like bridge and chess to help keep your mind sharp.
- Keep on adding, subtracting, and multiplying. Don‘t always depend on a calculator.
- Memorize something—a poem, part of a psalm, or even a joke—daily or weekly.
A CREATIVE STATE OF MIND
- Learn to think inventively and let new ideas come forth.
- Think like a child. Children are full of wonder, curiosity, and playfulness that lead to creativity. Play games, and allow yourself to daydream.
- Don‘t limit yourself to being one type of person. If you see yourself only as of the buttoned-down executive or the supermom, you may find yourself unable to think in other ways.
- Keep a pen and paper in every room so that you can jot down your ideas immediately.
- Don‘t be afraid to make mistakes. Trying new ideas means exposing yourself to pitfalls. If you fail, see what didn’t work and try again.
- Take a notebook or tape recorder along when traveling. New scenery spurs new thoughts. Many people report coming up with their best ideas while driving or when on vacation.
- You‘re more likely to forget things that don‘t interest you, so convince yourself of the importance of what you‘re trying to remember.
- Talking to yourself might sound silly, but it‘s a good memory aid. Say out loud where you are putting your car keys or purse. Repeat any instructions or directions you‘re given.
- To keep in mind upcoming events, discuss them with friends or family members.
- Make up odd rhymes or associations to aid your memory for example, if your friend Chris‘s birthday is in October, think of Columbus Day. Or set what you‘re trying to remember to a familiar tune.
- Tension can interfere with memory. Learning to relax will help you think clearly and recall things better.
- Similarly, if something is bothering you, it can keep you from concentrating. Write it down first.
- Study new subjects or languages before bedtime. New skills seem to be stored in the brain during sleep.
- Physical exercise is good for the brain. Anaerobic fitness program seems to help preserve memory.
- There‘s no solid evidence that specific ‘brain foods’ exist. But good nutrition— which benefits the whole body—supplies the brain with
what it needs to function well.
- Don‘t drink too much alcohol; it can impair memory.
- Have a set place to put your keys, gloves, and anything else you might easily misplace. Good organization is one of the best memory aids.
- Many people find it difficult to remember names. Try these suggestions the next time you meet someone.
- Stay focused when you are introduced. If you are preoccupied, you may not even hear the name, so clear your mind of other thoughts.
- Make associations with the name, perhaps with a celebrity who has the same name or with color, occupation, or thing (Mr. Black, Ms. Carpenter, Mr. Bell). You may be able to associate the name with a striking feature—a woman named Pearl, for instance, has pearly white teeth.
- Rhyme the name in your mind (‘Jones’ with ‘bones’).
- If appropriate, ask the person the origin of his or her family name; this may help you recall it better.
- Reinforce the memory by using the person‘s name in conversation as often as seems suitable.
GOOD NEWS FOR SENIOR CITIZENS
- When old people have trouble recalling things, many immediately think the worst—that this may indicate Alzheimer‘s disease. But most memory loss has a treatable cause.
- It‘s a half-truth that memory gets worse as you age. Long term memory shows no significant change, but short—term memory may suffer.
- Confusion and memory loss may be caused by prescription medicines, especially sleeping pills or drugs for depression or anxiety. Ask your doctor if this could be the cause of impaired thinking. He or she may be able to switch you to a different medication.
- Depression is often a cause of memory loss. Elderly people are most likely to become depressed if they feel they have no control over their surroundings. If you have family members in a nursing home, talk to the staff about letting them make as many of their own decisions as possible.
- If you or an elderly family member keeps forgetting something important, try to think of a practical solution.
- For example, if you‘re constantly forgetting to take medication, buy a plastic pill holder or make one out of an ice cube tray.
To spur creativity, talk to encouraging, not discouraging, people. A wet blanket can smother another person‘s ideas. Associate with people who will support your efforts.
- Suppose your PTA needs to raise money for new band uniforms. How can you generate ideas? Borrow from the business world a way of stimulating creativity: brainstorming.
- Ask all participants to throw out ideas, either in turn or as they come to mind—even if they sound silly or crazy. Make it clear: the more ideas, the better.
- Have someone write down the ideas, or, to save time and keep up the momentum, ask each person to write down his or her own ideas after stating them.
- Don‘t stop to analyze, criticize, or argue.
- Be open to all suggestions. You may be able to ‘piggyback’—build on someone else‘s concept. With a wild or impossible idea, look for any positive aspect; a change of some sort may make it useful.
- When the group has finally run out of ideas, have everyone rate each idea from 1 to 10 (10 being the best). Add up these ratings. The ideas with the highest scores are the most promising.
‘STRIKE’ for Ideas
Call it a formula for success in creating new ideas. The acronym ‘strike,’ which stands for the words below, indicates the steps creative people take, whether they know it or not.
Stew. Start by thinking almost aimlessly about all the things you‘d like to do improvements you‘d like to make, problems you‘d like to solve, and goals you‘d like to achieve. Don‘t worry if the process takes two hours or two months.
Target. When you are sure of a particular objective, write it down in 10 words or less. For example, if you were stewing about career changes, target your thoughts to one clear
Research. Find out about the area you’ve decided to concentrate on. A visit to the library might be helpful. And don‘t overlook your friends and other contacts as sources of information.
Ideas. Think of ideas that will help you meet your goal. Write them down as they come to you. Keep your mind loose and limber, writing down even the
Key Idea. Choose the best of all the ideas you have come up with. Make sure the idea is practical and will help you achieve your goal. Execute. Now that you are prepared, act on your idea. If you have visualized yourself carrying it out, it should be easier to do.