Have you ever watched an old school detective show? The detectives on the scene have done their due diligence, but are stumped about the case. Just then a guy in a beat up car drives up to the scene. He gets out of his car and flashes his credentials. "Who is this guy, Sergeant?" The hot shot detectives ask with obvious objection. "I invited him" replies the Sergeant. The seemingly out of place detective, walks through the crime scene. He asks funny questions the presiding detectives didn't think to ask and looks in places they didn't think to look.
As the end of the episode approaches, the quirky detective reveals a number of small details that the others missed. He reveals: who committed the crime, when they did it, and how. The culprit interjects, "but how could I do this when I can't even walk." He replies, "That would be true if you were telling the truth about your ability to walk. Tell me something. How does a man that can't walk have shoes that are worn out? I saw the bottom of your soles. All of your shoes show consistent wear from usage."
"How did he solve the crime?" You ask yourself as you watch him explain the details. "Gosh, I can't believe I missed that. It's almost like he was there watching the crime unfold. I wish I could solve a case for once. But it is just a tv show and there is no way this is how people solve crimes."
Some of us enjoy puzzles, but puzzles can elude many of us. Why is that?
Do You Like Puzzles?
Why does it seem that some people enjoy puzzles while some of us don't? The truth is pretty simple. A lot of us give ourselves permission to be mentally lazy, myself included. How many times have you chosen to turn on the television and passively take in information versus solving a jigsaw puzzle? How many times have you asked someone for an answer to a question that you could have easily Googled? How many times have you chosen easy instead of challenging? By default our brains love high efficiency and low work loads. Our modern society hasn't really done us any favors to help us collectively improve our thinking abilities.
Companies like Google, Amazon and Apple, have changed the perception of time for many of us. I'm not saying that people haven't been mentally lazy in the past, but I think there is argument to be made that as we add convenience to our lives, we run the risk of transferring that perception to our mental thinking. Let me explain.
Imagine that you wanted to build a robot in the year 1990. How would you go about that process? Where would you purchase the metals or plastics that you would use? What motors or servos would you put to make the robot move? How would you know how much battery or power to supply it? Google was around until 1998 and Ask Jeeves, the electronic search butler, was founded until 1995. How would you find the parts? Who could explain to you how to do the electronics? Who would explain to you how to bolts and servos need to be mounted? What kind of remote or computing power would it have?
Making a robot of any kind in 1990 would have been a challenging task. It would have required a lot of time and effort, and probably would have turned out pretty lame. No offense to your robot making skills. Now try this; type out "how to make a robot" or "build a robot" into a Google search and see what you get. If you did this task, you not only have a couple of pages dedicated to the making of robots but tons of websites dedicated to it. There are kits that you can buy and classes that you can take.
Today, you don't have to wonder where you will find robot parts, you don't have to contemplate how to build one. Technology has come such a far way and the world is now so connected, that most of the things that you could ever want to do in life, only require three things: time, money, and a Google search. You just don't have to work mentally the same anymore; from conceptualization to execution.
To add to the challenge, many things may rob us of precious opportunities to stop and think. Fatigue, stress, and multitasking, tend to make us feel like we don't have the mental energy to commit to mentally challenging tasks.
Television and movies give us plenty of stimulating talking points, but watching television is a semi passive activity. You don't have to consciously think when watching the screen.
Television can be a great tool for learning but when it's strictly based on consumption, it can be bit mind numbing and useless. Why does all of this matter?
Because if we allow it, our mind will default to the lazy, non cognitive exhaustive system that plagues most of our thinking. When it comes time to hunker down and do some real mental work, we tend to shy away. And if we want to improve our intellect, we can't take it easy when it comes to mental work. Consider this.
When you decide to go to the gym and lift weights, you are resisting the bodies tendency to relax. The strain and effort, break or rip the muscle fibers and your body is forced to make new ones that are stronger and more robust.
Your mind works the same way, well sort of. When you push your mind to flex and work it's "muscle", you develop new patterns of thinking that help to make you smarter. I guess the question is, do you want to be smarter and more intelligent? Would you like a little more clarity of thought?
Tips To Improve Your Intelligence
Learn a musical instrument
This is possibly one of the best things you can do for your brain. It has been suggested that musicians have better communication between both parts of their brain, the left and right hemispheres. (Follow Link) Additionally there are some other really cool benefits to learning musical instrument. Check out this Ted-Ed talk.
Read, Read, and Read Some More
When you read, you are opening up your mind to new experiences. If you find yourself to busy and sit down and read, listen to an audiobook instead. Try to read at least 1 book a month if possible. It will go a long way towards expanding your vocabulary as well as giving you some interesting things to talk about.
Spend time solving puzzles
Solving puzzles is an amazing way to help the brain form associations that may not exist. It looks for news ways to connect and this can be a powerful tool for growing your intellect. Your lateral thinking will improve and you will find that you may start thinking in non traditional ways.
To end this blog post I want you to solve this crime. Use your thinking and be patient. Spend as long as necessary figuring it out. Use that mind of yours to figure out who did it...
Bungalow Murder - Can You Solve This?
A husband, his wife, and the husband's mother live in a bungalow-style home. As soon as the husband gets home from work, they eat a small leg of lamb for supper. The husband's mother is in her room. Sometimes she stays in her room during meals. After the couple has dined, the husband brings in a meal for his mother. The mother is found dead in her room, having been hit with a blunt object. During questioning, both the husband and the wife admitted that they intensely disliked the old woman. They both had a motive. However, they did not have the means to do it, because no weapon was found.
Using your most astute imaginary observational skills, where is the murder weapon and who did it?
(Story from Becoming Sherlock-The Power of Observation and Deduction by Stefan Cain)
For the answer to this crime click here.