Use it or loose it.
A lot of people play memory enhancement games and puzzles to sharpen their mind. I played them myself everyday till my brain flooded with the feeling of lactic acid, you know, like pumping iron, stinging the muscles at the end of an anaerobic workout.
There are a lot of application suites with different levels of difficulty that help you train your brain in terms of intelligence, memory, effectiveness, creativity etc. There's a whole variety of them.
I seriously admire the people who engage in these games both for fun and improvement, yet I really honestly believe there are alternatives that much more useful in training the brain.
These alternative ways I talk about here, not only train your brain but in the process also accomplish something which is quantifiable in the real world than a high score on a game.
You may say that it may not be as cool as a game. Come on, what do you want at the end? A real world ability or a virtual high score.
I am not against games. I play them a lot. Period. They are fun. When I am talking about games here in this post, i am talking about the digital kind. There is absolutely no doubt on that. If you wanna play, play.
But here is what you do. Don't block this blog post from your mind, even if you love to play mind games. Your mind is a puzzle. Even though a sudden piece of information doesn't fit in anywhere, keep it. You'll never know when you'll need it. But when it comes to playing games for self improvement and personal development , intelligence . memory and that kind of stuff; that's where I think you are better off doing something real.
This is common sense and not the result of experiments
Many games are proven by researchers to be helpful in increasing memory and intelligence, but the content below is based on pure common sense and is not backed by any research.
Life is a game. The winners loose and the losers win and the cycle continues. Why not play something that leaves behind an experience.
Here is a list of things you can do which I believe are productive and brain training at the same time.
⊕ Learn a language in Duolingo
I mean this is one app that I keep looking at everyday. It helps me learn languages and get my brain in working condition when I am down and it's fun.
And at the end of a year, you might get good at a language or two.
I've read that languages improve your vocabulary and help you think in different patterns. The more languages you know, the more thinking patterns that develop in your brain. Do this for memory and intelligence.
At the end of the day, you'll be able to watch more cool movies from multiple languages and connect with more people.
⊕ Start a journal and write about the good and bad times of your life
Believe me, it may look like the most lame and stupid idea at the first glance. It is easy to brush this one off. But once you get to read what you felt like five, ten or fifteen or fifty years ago, that's the tipping point. That's when the experience it offers to your life becomes priceless. You could by choice visit every single memory of your past. How cool is that? Very rewarding and brings out goosebumps at times.
It'll tell you your strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes when you read the journal, the the person who wrote the journal (that's you) may seem alien to you. Life is weird.
You'll learn a lot about yourself. A journey of self discovery will follow through.
You'll remember the little things which made you happy. The little ambitions you had when you were in your twenties. Hey!, You can write content as advice to your future self.
And when you read then later in life you'll know what you were rooting for. You'll know whether your life is on track.
Do this for exploring who you are.
⊕ Learn something new that will be cool to show around
Just for the purpose of showing off.
Card magic is one that comes to my mind. You'll be able to show off tricks to kids and people in parties. Guaranteed fun and offers a wide range of social possibilities.
Learning to solve a Rubik's cube in under a minute may not help you show off, but you can still add it in your portfolio of humble arsenal.
The idea is to keep doing something small that will have a giant impact later in your life, several years down the line.
The amount of things you can learn this way is virtually unlimited and is only limited by your imagination. Also, the more cool tricks you have under your belt, the more your life will have motivation to learn more. Nothing can give you more confidence than this. You'll be very happy. This motivates you further more than the high score on a game.
Do this for Happiness, confidence and motivation.
Here is a small trick to see how much you'll improve. Try to understand the innate meaning of the picture below. If you get the idea, feel free to print it out and make a huge poster out of it. Law of attraction will come to your aid.
⊕ Plant a tree/plant and care for it
This one requires more patience and is the most rewarding of all in the long term. You'll know what it is to start something and grow it without a guarantee.
For starters, grow a flowering plant. Because it will produce flowers much more easier than something which gets you a fruit and hence more instantaneously rewarding.
It takes a lot of consistent effort to grow plants. They need to be watered. They need to be pruned. The right amount of sunlight has to be provided. And then for no reason they may wither away one bad day and you have to start over again.
If you are this consistent in growing a plant, you'll be consistent in your life which is not bad. On a side note, I've personally seen that most of the people who love flower plants are incredibly good human beings.
If you can do a plant, start a tree. We used to have a lemon tree at home which grew for ten years with no fruit. It started to grow when I was on grade 2. And it's been 20 years since.
And in the last ten years it gave so many lemons that we gave them away all over the neighborhood and still there was more. When life gives you lemons, distribute them as pickles.
Sadly the tree is now dead. It withered away and we had to cut it down. Don't be so sad, more are on the way. We are starting again. The small saplings are grown from the seeds of the parent tree.
Just know that there are alternatives to playing games for mind improvement. But hey, if you gotta play a game for fun that is what you do.