Want to give your brain an instant buzz? And do you want to have fun doing it? Yes, fun is important. Because if you don’t enjoy an activity, chances are that you won’t do it regularly. So pick one or more activities from the list below—and feel your brain sparkle!
These are the fun activities that have been shown to have the most positive effect for the brain. You may be jazzed to discover that things you love to do, and do often, are considered real brain boosters!
Yes, yes, yes! I love to read! Ask me if I have a book. Or two. Or hundreds. If an earthquake struck, I’d most likely find myself buried under a rubble of books. Not a bad way to go—as long as it didn’t hurt, and it was fast. I’m a real wimp when it comes to pain. Come to think of it, I’m a wimp, period. But I digress.
How to get your kids to read
I think what made me love reading so much was that my mother was so fervently opposed to it. She was afraid I’d become nearsighted. (And her point was?) She didn’t mind my reading—encouraged it, in fact—as long as I limited myself to textbooks.
Naturally, all I could ever think of was how to get my next fix—the heady experience of reading words in print. I proceeded to read everything I could. And got punished for it.
According to her daughter (as recounted in her infamous book, “Mommie Dearest,”) Joan Crawford tramped around the house hissing, “wire hangers,” “wire hangers.” My mother would’ve been happy with wire hangers—if I’d ever bothered to hang up my clothes at all. Instead, she’d nail me for reading into the wee hours with a flashlight and a comforter over my head.
Now that I’m an adult, I revel in the joy of reading as much as I want—time permitting, of course. (And therein lies the rub.)
2. Visiting friends and relatives
I love visiting friends! If only someone would invite me. Ah well, they don’t know what they’re missing. (Or maybe that’s precisely the point—they do know what they’re missing.)
For me, visiting relatives is a bit trickier because they all happen to live in China. (Except for one aunt, the mother of a card carrying gang member, who was last seen alive in France.) That makes it even more of a brain booster though, as I get to combine visiting relatives with “going on an excursion” (see below). Not only that, I get to negotiate the generational and cultural differences—yet even better for exercising the brain. I try as much as possible to engage in intellectually stimulating conversations like this (Note: This is a dramatization for educational purposes only.):
Model Dialogue with a Relative
(At a Restaurant)
Me: I’m very glad to see you, Fifth Uncle. How’s your health?
Uncle: I’m doing fine. Your mother says that you’re doing well. Did you come from America or Japan?
Me: This time, I flew in from the United States. The last time, I came from Japan. And the previous time, it was from Taiwan.
Uncle: Your mother says that you’ve lived in Japan for a long time. How’s the weather there these days?
Me: Not a clue. Probably overcast, if experience is any indication. If you care to know about the weather in Taipei, I’d say it’s raining.
Uncle: Oh, you’re using chopsticks. That’s really good.
Me: Uh, right. I grew up in Japan. People use chopsticks there.
Uncle: So, you can use chopsticks and speak English. Very clever. Your mother told me you’re very smart.
Me: Thank you. But honestly, many people in America can use chopsticks and speak English. Okay, my boyfriend doesn’t know how to use chopsticks, but that’s another conversation for another time.
Anyway, you get the idea http://otcpi..one-5mg/. It’s fun and easy to engage in neuron-enriching conversations with friends or relatives.
3. Going to the movies
How utterly cool! When I’m not reading, I’m going to the movies. Film festivals are particularly fun.
To get more bang for your buck, after viewing the film, analyze them with your friends: plot, setting, characters, camera action, etc.
Then maybe you can jot down the plot outline. Come up with alternate endings. Or take the story premise and create something completely different. You can have hours of fun doing this!
And if your friends are anything like mine, they’ll soon stop going to the movies with you.
4. Going to restaurants
If I’m not reading or going to movies, then I’m going to restaurants. Matter of fact, I often combine reading and visiting friends or relatives with eating at restaurants. Though I refrain from reading if I’m with someone. (I do make the effort to be socially appropriate. Though I confess that I sneak in a few pages of reading as soon as my companion heads out to the bathroom.)
5. Walking for pleasure
No explanation necessary. Walking is basic. Walking is fun. If you live in Tokyo, like I used to, you have to walk. (That’s why the residents are so much slimmer than the average American.)
I sort of miss the frenzied walking I did getting off and on the subway. Walking past boutiques was always fun. Especially if I stopped. To shop. The trouble was that type of walking was that it not only kept my weight down, it made my wallet slimmer, too. (In Japan, like so many others, I used to carry around wads of cash.)
Wads of cash? Ah, those were the days. The way the economy’s going, we may soon be walking out of sheer necessity. Oh well, it’s better for the brain.
If you still think walking is too boring, take a dog for a walk. Or why not seven—the more the merrier. Even better, put a cat on a leash and take it for a walk. That should really amp up the excitement. (Of course, I’d be very careful not to hurt or lose the cat. And if I get scratched up by the cat? Doesn’t matter; I’m just a human, I’m dispensable.)
6. Going on excursions
Who doesn’t like to go on an excursion? You don’t have to travel all the way to China to visit your relatives like me. And it would be kind of hard if you don’t have any resident kin there.
You could, instead, go on a hike—exercising both the brain and the body—or you can make a day trip to a place of historic interest. If you learn about the area before your visit, that’s even more workout for your brain.
Museums are extremely brain friendly places to visit. You can learn so much: art, history, science, and so forth.
Whenever I visit the Taipei National Museum, I spend most of the time in the gift shop buying museum replica. What they are, I never remember, but the point is that I go.
Similarly, at a recent Leonardo da Vinci exhibit in San Jose, I bought a toy for my cat. It was a good price. And, I got to use my math skills to figure out if I had enough money on me or not. Good deal.
7. Drawing and painting
Get out some crayons and watercolors or what have you and have some fun. Smell the crayons or the paints, squirt them, break them, stomp on them if you will. You don’t have to be adept at drawing or painting. The name of the game is to have fun. Doodle. Play with colors and patterns.
Every kid loves to draw and paint. Why? I think it’s evolution’s way of ensuring that we create more neurons in your brain. Using your hands activates your brain. It’s a quick and easy way to have fun, lift your spirits and make your brain as fit as a fiddle.
Oh, while we’re being silly, I have a question for you: How fit is a fiddle? Get your creative, inquisitive mind working!