Experts in cognitive health tell us that we can strengthen mental acuity by exercising our mental functions. The maxim, “Use it or lose it”, applies quite well to puzzles, board games, reading, writing and conversation. This gets me thinking about the possibility of inventing my own mental exercises. Here are some word-related brain calisthenics I engage in regularly:
ANAGRAMS – Playing with the way letters are arranged in a word, to see how other words are also hiding there. (E.g., eon/neo; pate/tape/peat or hewn/when)
SYNONYMNS – Substituting interesting variations for ordinary vocabulary. Fresh nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs can add zip to my communications. (E.g, fascinating, incredible or amazing for the perhaps-timeworn awesome.)
TWISTED AXIOMS – Seeing what happens when a familiar saying gets turned around. (E.g., “Rolling moss gathers no stones.”)
METAPHORS – Inventing new comparisons to challenge my imagination and logic. (E.g., “Getting old with grace is like adding spices to oatmeal.”)
MANTRAS – Carrying a helpful or inspiring phrase into daily experiences. (For example, “Good is stronger than evil”, “Breathe!” or “This is the day the Lord has made.”)
CHANGED PREPOSITIONS – Using different prepositions—behind, of, for, through, under, over, on, in, between, etc.) in familiar verbal constructs. (For example, “Grace of/in/through/outside God” or “Somewhere over/under/between the rainbow[s].”)
EMPATHETIC SELF-TALK – To strengthen my social intelligence, imagining that I’m talking with others whom I observe—about their moods, life situation, hopes or outlook.
Any of these homemade mental activities invites my creativity, imagination, playfulness and logic—all important cognitive functions. They require me to slow down and examine present matters with appreciation and gratitude—also good practices for my mind. As for other commercially made puzzles: They also make any day satisfying!
I hope you find enjoyment in mind games and puzzles, perhaps even the ones you invent on your own!
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