Three Mind Exercises
The following exercises require you to not just exercise the
brain with well-defined tasks, but to think. Our use of the concepts
"brain" and "mind" is sloppy much of the
time, and many aspects of each overlap quite a bit anyhow. A
brain supports a mind, for example, but both can be said to do
what we call thinking. Still, there is a distinction, and that's
why the following are called "mind exercises" as opposed
to "brain exercises." They are meant to get the mind
Remake Important Documents
Doing this one will get you asking why things are the way
they are, and how they could be different in some way. Start
with any important historical, religious or political document
and rewrite all or part of it. Make it how you would like to
see it, or just try out some new ideas. Do your own version of
the ten commandments, and you'll have to consider which moral
rules should be most important, and why there are certain ones
included in that existing list.
You can work with political documents ranging from the Communist
Manifesto to the preamble of your own political party platform.
My own reworking of the Constitution of the United States authorizes
congress to pass only single-issue bills, which would eliminate
much of the expensive nonsense they add. Another article makes
it clear that democracy is not the ruling principle, but that
government exists only to protect individual rights, and voting
is only used to determine who will carry out that purpose on
behalf of all who live within a country.
Watch Movies with Unusual Ideas
If you want to think more creatively, exposing yourself to
new ideas can help a lot. This can be accomplished through movies
that are unusual and make you think. "Pi" with Sean
Gullette, for example, is a good start. You might also watch
"The Rapture" with Mimi Rogers, or "Fight Club"
with Brad Pitt (a bit violent, but interesting). Watching great
movies isn't necessary; just watch ones that approach things
from a different perspective and have uncommon ideas.
Start with a simple list of common platitudes and sayings
that are either lies or exaggerations of some point. Challenge
them to see where they are wrong, but then also look for the
"nugget of truth" in each and see if there is actually
some new insight there. Consider the statement "anything
is possible," for example. It's grossly overused and plainly
unsupportable by any logic or evidence. On the other hand there
is a reason it exists. It points out our deep ignorance of just
what is possible, and our tendency to underestimate what
can be done or what can happen in a given circumstance--something
Some others to tear apart:
It was meant to happen.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
What we think is what we get.
Any of these three mental exercises should get you thinking
in new ways and give your mind a great workout. You might even
come upon a few good ideas as well.