According to psychologists Sternberg and Davidson, puzzles require “the ability to compare hidden information in a puzzle with information already in memory.” In other words, they require the ability to apply logic and data in a creative, non-conventional way. This type of stimulation has been found to produce dopamine, the chemical that causes us to feel optimistic, happy, and creative. It has also been found to excite our minds while simultaneously relaxing us psychologically, putting our brains into a balanced meditative state that encourages creativity.
If you’ve already crushed the puzzles that came with your box of Blackwing 10001 pencils, here are some other brain exercises that can help you achieve this Zen-like state.
Try writing (or drawing) with your non-dominant hand
It’s simple, but using your non-dominant hand exercises a different, often underused, portion of your brain. This stimulation, while challenging, forges better connections between your brain’s two hemispheres.
Play “10 Things” with a pencil
If you’ve ever watched “Whose Line is it Anyway?”, you know how to play 10 things. Pick up a Blackwing, and imagine 10 other things it could be. For example, the unsharpened Blackwing on my desk could be the oar to a pint-sized rowboat.
Activate all five senses
Mental stimulation is at the heart of all of these exercises, and something as simple as presence in the moment can provide that stimulation. As you use your pencil, think about how it impacts your senses. Feel the subtle vibration as the graphite works its way onto the page. Watch the movement of the tip as you work. Listen to the sound of the wood being shaved away as you sharpen its point. Smell the cedar.
Create word pictures
A word picture is formed by words that begin or end with the same two letters. See how many words you can link!
Test your recall with lists
If memory games are your thing, try testing your own memory! Write down 10 or more related (or unrelated!) words. Then, turn the page and try to recreate your list from memory.
Draw a map
Think of a place you’ve been recently. It can be the grocery store, your local park, a friend’s house, or anywhere in between. Now, draw a map of that place. Thinking about the specific details of a location and drawing them forces you to tap into your memory and apply that data in a new creative way, just like a puzzle.
What are some of your favorite brain exercises? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram @Blackwing!