Monday, 10 August 2015


Everyday you probably walk past something that is intrinsically interesting, but that you in fact barely notice. Improving the ability to observe and describe the world around you is another resource for building a better and more creative brain. You might specialize in observing a particular sort of thing that you yourself choose. The topic will vary, depending on where you live. It might be birds or barns. It might be paintings in a near by museum. It might be people you encounter, or may be the way the things are organised. Any of these might be a theme that you follow for a month or more, which is succeeded by a new one after that.

The first stage in this mental exercising is observing. Your long-term goal is to look intently and in detail, so that you observe aspects that you would not normally notice. You might begin, however, with a gestalt approach, much as the impressionist painters did when they invented impressionism in the nineteenth- century. This will exercise the emotional and intuitive components of your brain. Look at something that is of interest to you.What thoughts and feelings does that evoke  in you? Think and carefully choose the right words to describe them. Then switch over to observing more analytically. You will want to break your observation down into the details that are appropriate to what you are observing. Choose the perfect words to describe the shapes, colors, and the patterns that you are seeing.While performing this part of the exercise, you are beginning the process of  describing while you are observing. But to make the exercise complete you need to produce a written description. Sit down and write a paragraph in which you describe your observations in the most elegant and precise language you are able to achieve. 

As you continue this exercise over weeks and months, you should work on one topic several times a  week for at least one month. As you build your set of descriptions, notice how you are getting better at observing and describing. Then switch to another topic, preferably one that is quite different from the first.

You will very likely begin to notice a payoff from this exercise in your daily life. Your practice will generalize to many other things that you do. Observing carefully, in both intuitive and an analytic manner, will begin to become habitual. Your vocabulary will grow. Your writings will improve. And you will grow new synapses in your visual, language and creativity as a consequence of this mental exercise.