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Sometimes it’s just way too hard to pick out a gift. We have so many cool things at BrainHackr and we don’t want to rush you. So that’s where gift cards come in. We have 5 different gift card amounts you can purchase. When you select a gift card you will get an option to add your name, email and message. Once you have checked out we will take care of the rest.

Terms & Conditions

  • Purchasing a gift card means you accept these terms, if you give the gift card to someone else you’ll need to let them know they are bound by these terms as well
  • Gift cards can be used for any BrainHackr product or service
  • Gift cards will be activated within 12 hours of purchase. Cards cannot be redeemed for cash. Gift cards are not legal tender, account cards, credit or debit cards or securities.
  • Keep your gift card code secure and treat it as you would treat cash. Anyone with the code can use its value to make purchases. If your card is lost or stolen, or you suspect an unauthorised transaction immediately report this to and we may be able to stop the value being used.
  • We may cancel any gift card, or the gift card scheme, for any reason at any time without notice. If so, we may either provide a refund or a replacement gift card of equivalent value. Gift Cards remain our property.
  • We can vary or replace these conditions from time to time.


Gift cards are valid for one year from the Date of Issue. After the gift card has expired, it is no longer valid and all transactions will
be declined. Unused value will not be refunded and will become our property.

BrainHackr may, in its complete discretion, refuse to sell gift cards to any person at any time for any reason.

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1 review for Gift card

  1. Join us for Adelaide Fringe game nights!

    Have you heard? We're running game nights every weekend of the Adelaide Fringe!

    More than just our usual game nights, we want everyone to get into the spirit. Dressing the part is highly recommended. We're expecting zombie hunters for Zombicide night, capes and tights for Superhero night, and we're excited to see what you'll come up with for Organ Donation night!

    There is a $5 ticket price for our Fringe game nights, just to cover the cost of running an Adelaide Fringe event. Make sure to check the schedule and book your spot through the Fringe website.

    $5 entry, 2-3 hour duration, every Friday & Saturday throughout Fringe

    Many of the games we’ll be playing will be for grownups, so make sure to check the schedule before booking your ticket. Any children must be accompanied by responsible adult.

    Games night schedule

    We will be playing different games each weekend, so make sure to book the night that sparks your interest.

    Zombie Game Night (Zombicide)
    February 17th

    Superhero Games Night (Rhino Hero, Superfight, Marvel Codenames, Rhino Hero: Super Battle)
    February 23rd and 24th

    Organ Donors Games Night (Anatomy Park, Operation, Organ Attack)
    March 2nd and 3rd

    Deception Games Night (Secret Hitler, Spyfall, Coup Rebellion)
    March 9th and 10th

    Escape Games Night (Escape Room: The Game, Unlock Escape Adventures)
    March 16th and 17th
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  2. Science Week 2017 is nearly here!Comedian Em Rusciano promo for National Science Week, 2017. We're looking forward to another Science filled week coming soon.


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  3. Unlock The Formula Card Game WalkthroughUnlock! The Formula, released this month in the US and Australia by Asmodee and Space Cowboys is a play at home escape room. The game uses cards in a 'choose your own adventure' style to lead you through the puzzles and help you ultimately find the exit in 60 minutes.

    In order to play you must download the app which is available in both Apple and Android versions. The app works well and adds an extra element to the game play


    The Formula Walk Through

    Mission #MK-053

    SEP 30 1961 / TOP SECRET

    The Department is concerned by the lack of recent reports from Dr. Hoffman. This genius chemist is involved in the MK project. In his last report, he claimed that his "truth serum" was close to the required reliability. We want Hoffman and his formula.

    The team will be taken to the subway station (CLASSIFIED) and will infiltrate the lab, which opens with the code (CLASSIFIED). You make your way through the maze of New York subway tunnels. In the middle of the tracks, you find a trap door in the ground. It's open and light shows through it.

    Turn over this card


    Card 1



    "The door closes and you hear a synthesized voice 'self destruction engaged. 60 minutes"

    This card requires you to reveal card E, 37, 19, 71, 27,B, 8 and 42

    Card E will require you to reveal cards 12,57,66 and 50

    Card 27 will require you to reveal card D



    Card 50



    You will need this later to help with the puzzle in card F



    Card 57



    A vase filled with flowers and water



    Card 27 and D



    'A small wooden box with a hole in it hangs on the wall'

    You will notice the key shown in card D has a cork on it. You can't reach the key through the hole in the box as its too deep. Take card 57 and apply it to card 27

    57+27= reveal card 84

    By pouring the water from the vase into the box the cork rises and you now have a key, card 84.

    You can now discard cards 27, 57 and D



    Card 8



    A locked door.



    Card 84



    Apply the key shown in card 84 to the locked engine room door (card 8), 84+8= card 92



    Card 92



    Card 92 reveals an engine room. At the back of the room there are a few pieces of furniture. You can now discard card 8 and 84.

    Reveal cards F, 2, 11, 13, L and 47

    Look closely in the corner of the generator room and you will notice a 7, reveal card number 7



    Card 42



    Look closely at card 42 and you will notice a small number on the pocket, number 33. Reveal card 33 which shows a key.

    You can now discard card 42



    Card 33



    Apply card 33 to card 47



    Card 47



    Using card 33 unlock the filing cabinet

    47+33= card 80

    In the top draw you find a UV lamp. Discard cards 33 and 47



    Card 13



    Place the projector slide into the projector (card 12)



    Card 12



    Placing the project slide card 13 into the projector card 12 (13+12) reveals card 25. You can now discard cards 12 and 13.



    Card 80



    Use the lamp with card 11



    Card 11



    Apply the lamp (card 80) obtained from the filing cabinet (card 47) to card 11 (80+11) you can now reveal card 91. You can now discard card 11 and 80.

    Using the lamp reveals fingerprints on the keypad



    Card 91



    The numbers 2,5,6 and 8 are shown, along with three arrows pointing right.

    Each of the arrows suggests a 'greater than sign'. Using this formula we can determine the order of the numbers, e.g. 8 is greater than 6, 6 is greater than 5, 5 is greater than 2. And therefore the last number is two.

    Type in the code 8652 into the app. You will receive a message stating that an electrical buzzing noise can be heard, take card K

    Card K

    After solving the puzzle in card 91 you can take card K  which shows the generator has started up and has a value of 15. Discard card 91.



    Card 2



    Don't spend too long looking at this card, you will use it later.



    Card 7



    If you haven't yet obtained card number 7 look very closely at card 92, the number '7' is printed in the top right corner of the generator room

    Place this card into the microscope, card 66



    Card 66



    Place card 7 into the microscope. 66+7 = card 73. Reveal card 73 which shows a tiny inscription. Discard card 7 and card 66.



    Card 73



    Use the numbers/colours in card 73 to solve the puzzle on card F



    Card F



    Obtain card 73 by combining card 66 and 7 (microscope and slide) which will show you a code.

    4 marked in red, 3 marked in green and 4 marked in orange.

    On the red row find the fourth pin along, +1. On the green row find the third pin along, +7, on the orange row find the 4th pin along, +1

    The red number you need is 9

    You can now combine cards F and 50 together, 9+50 = card 59.



    Card 59



    Card 59 shows a +27 and a 'ring ring' message. Discard cards 50,73 and F



    Card 37



    Once you have solved the puzzle on card F you will be rewarded with card 59.

    Use card 59 with card 37, 27+37 = card 64. This card states "you have a message, enter your security code"

    Discard cards 37 and 59.



    Card L



    Look closely at card L, what do you see. Its a picture of a WING. You will need to use this later with card 64.



    Card 64



    Using the information from card L, the WING

    Find WING on the telephone dial, and note the corresponding numbers. W=9, I=4, N=6, G=4

    Enter 9464 into the app and take card Y, discard card L and 64.



    Card Y



    Card Y is obtained by solving the puzzle on card 64 using card L

    "This is Hoffman,

    I confess I'm running away, I can no longer cope with my terrible discovery. However, I value human life and I can't let you die here. You can only get out with the formula. Then I'll leave you to decide the fate of humanity. To access my lab you must first turn on the generator. Next, turn the lever on the right completely to the right, press 4 times on the black button and then, twice on the red. Good luck".



    Card B



    Make sure you have obtained card Y.

    Apply card K (+15) to card B. In order to get a red number you must follow the instructions on card Y, turn the lever on the right (+2) press 4 times on the black button (+4) and twice on the red (+10). Giving you a number of 16.

    Combine 15 from card K and 16 from card B to reveal card 31.



    Card 31



    By solving the puzzle on card B you will reveal card 31 which states 'It works, you hear a click nearby +31'. Discard cards B, Y and K



    Card 25



    Once you have solved the puzzle on card B (using cards K and Y) you can combine card 31 with 25. Reveal card 56. You can now discard cards 25,31 and E



    Card 56



    Reveal cards 90,28,74,3,20

    Reveal card W, this will show a padlock



    Card 20



    A record player. This will come in handy later



    Card 3



    Shows a periodic table, this will help you solve card W



    Card 28



    On card 28 you will notice a picture of the MONA LISA. Draw card W.



    Card W



    Using the table on card 3 find the numbers that correspond to the letters MONA LISA

    MO=5, NA=3, LI=2, SA=7.

    Enter 5327 into the app. The padlock opens take card M. You can now discard cards 3,28,W.



    Card M



    Card M reveals card 23 and 93



    Card 23



    Apply the LP record (card 23) to the record player (card 20) which reveals card 43. Discard cards 20 and 23.




    Card 43



    After you combine the LP record (card 23) and record player (card 20) together you are given card 43 which contains the following message

    "Enter the code 1234 into the app"

    A recording will play, but it sounds like it is backward.

    Enter code 4321 into the app.

    A recording will play that states "to open the safe add 11"



    Card 74



    Once you have 'listened' to the LP recording using card 43 you are told 'to open the safe add 11'.

    Add 11 to 74 and reveal card 85. Discard cards 43 and 74.



    Card 85



    After opening the safe in card 74 you are shown a filing draw with the letters E, M, P, J, M, S, V, U and ?

    Using the planets in the poster on card 2 you can see

    E = earth, M = Mars, P = Pluto, J = Jupiter, M = Mercury, S = Saturn, V = Venus, U = Uranus

    One planet is missing 'Neptune'. The letter is N. Reveal card N and discard 2 and 85.

    You have it. The formula. You need to get out quickly now



    Card N



    Look closely at card N. There are four numbers in different colours. 6 (red), 5 (blue), 8 (grey) 3 (green).

    These colours correspond to the colour wheel at the bottom of the keypad in card 19. But what is the correct order



    Card 93 and Card 90



    Across the two cards add together the number of different coloured vials

    Grey = 1, Blue = 2, Red = 3, Green =4,



    Card 71



    The locked exit. Solve the puzzle on card 19 to open it.



    Card 19



    The final keypad. In order to solve the keypad you must have identified the clue in card N and solved the puzzle across card 93 and 90.

    Knowing that grey is 1 the first digit for the code is 8, blue is 2 and the second digit is 5, red is 3 and the third digit is 6, green is 4 and the fourth digit is 3.

    (If you cant see how this is worked out go back to card N and look at the colour of the numbers, using the number of vials in card 93+90 you can work out the order of the digits.

    Enter code 8563

    Well done, take card C



    Card C



    Its the right code. The door opens and you run out with the formula. Will you hand it over to the authorities or will you destroy it? This choice is now up to you. Lost in thought you get out into the open air. Well done



    Penalty cards




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  4. Watch: Inspiring stories from women in STEMThe push to increase the amount of women in STEM roles has been going for years. There has been improvement, we've gotten much further than the 7% level we had in the 70s, but there is still room to grow.

    Today is International Women’s Day, so lets highlight some success stories from women in STEM.

    Science: Physicist Kaye Morgan

    Kaye Morgan uses ground-breaking x-ray imaging in the effort to help treat cystic fibrosis.

    Technology: Women in Tech

    In this video students, professors and alumni from the Auckland University of Technology talk about their careers in tech. They want to help defuse the myth that women don’t want to go into fields like computer science and engineering.

    Engineering: Entrepreneur Debbie Sterling

    Debbie Sterling is an engineer and founder of GoldieBlox, a toy company out to inspire the next generation of female engineers. She has made it her mission in life to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math.

    Mathematics: Mathematician Danica McKellar

    Danica McKellar explains how math helped her to discover that she is so much more than the child actress from The Wonder Years.
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  5. 26 chatty abbreviations to help you navigate the social worldIn the online world you generally can't go a few clicks without encountering enough abbreviations and acronyms to make your head spin. While some web-heads are fluent in online shorthand, it can be tricky. That's why we've collected these lists of some of the common ones you may encounter.

    There are definitely a lot more abbreviations that could be on this list, but these are the most common ones you may encounter. If there's anything else you think is popular enough to be added to the list, give us a shout!

    • AFAIK: As Far As I Know

    • AMA: Ask Me Anything

    • BAE: Beyond All Else (significant other, boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a best friend)

    • BFF: Best Friends Forever

    • BRB: Be Right Back

    • BTW: By The Way

    • FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Usually a self-diagnosis by someone that hates missing out on social events.

    • FTW: For The Win.

    • FYI: For Your Information

    • ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

    • IDC: I Don't Care

    • IDK: I Don't Know

    • IMO/IMHO: In My (Humble) Opinion

    • IRL: In Real Life. Not virtual. That big scary place outside of your phone.

    • JK: Just Kidding

    • LOL: Laugh Out Loud. One of the most pervasive acronyms of the modern age, used by everyone from teeny boppers to business pros. Variations include ROFL (Rolling on the Floor Laughing) and LMAO (Laugh My A** Off).

    • NBD: No Big Deal

    • NM: Not Much

    • NVM: Nevermind

    • NSFW: Not Safe For Work. Used as a warning if the content isn't something suitable for the workplace.

    • OMG: Oh My God (or Oh My Gosh)

    • SMH: Shaking My Head. This could also be So Much Hate, which means the same thing. Shaking your head at the stupidity.

    • TL;DR: Too long; didn’t read. Used by people that didn't read an article, but feel the need to comment anyway. Also used by post authors to give a simple summation of the post for people that don't want to read the whole thing.

    • TBH: To be honest

    • WTF: What The F***?

    • YOLO: You Only Live Once

    The abbreviations and acronyms on this list are the ones you are most likely to see on social networks. The list grows every day, and even the usage of an abbreviation might differ depending on what people think it means.

    If there are any other abbreviations you think should be on the list, be sure to let us know!
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  6. Just some of the reasons museums are simply brilliantWhether the British Museum or the community museum down the road, the experience of visiting a museum is always eye opening.

    Museums are some of my favourite places. We have travelled around the world, and some of my favourite experiences have been in museums. I’d like to take this opportunity to explain a little of why taking the time to visit a museum is rarely a bad idea.

    Note: While I will keep saying “museum”, I am referring to the full spectrum of GLAM institutions. This includes Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.

    Museums open up ideas

    Museums promote curiosity. A museum exhibit inspires interest in an area that you might not have thought about before, whether it’s an area of study, a period, or a concept.

    The San Diego Museum of Man's Cannibalism exhibit was brilliant, despite being something I had never thought of too much before. The exhibit posed questions and ideas about cultural taboos in a thoughtful way.

    Museums are great social experiences

    [caption id="attachment_4428" align="alignright" width="225"] Adam and I posing while visiting the Art Gallery of South Australia[/caption]

    Exploring a museum with friends can be a great bonding experience, and a way to better know the people in your life. Talk about what you’re seeing, how you feel about it, find out if the other person feels the same. Share the experience of learning.
    The shared experience of listening with others is not unlike the cultural rituals of communal eating. Music may not have the primal necessity of food, but it is something people commonly ingest together.

    While Llewellyn Hinkes Jones was talking about music when he said this, the same goes for learning. Grab a few of your friends, or even just one, and head out to a museum.

    There is a reason why we included visiting a museum on our Comfort Zone list.

    Museums enable you to lose yourself in the moment

    Some things that have a different sense of scale and meaning when seeing them in person compared to online. When staring at a screen you might be logical, seeing the image from an analytical viewpoint. Seeing the same thing in person at a museum allows you to get swept up in the history and scale of what you are seeing.

    The Migration Museum in Adelaide recently opened an exhibit about the history of the location the museum is built on. The image below is part of this exhibit, showing how many babies were born there while it was a lying-in home. Online viewers have the freedom to be distant from it’s meaning, but being in the room and standing under this installation is a different matter. The exhibit is designed to give you an emotional change, not just an intellectual one.


    [caption id="attachment_4433" align="aligncenter" width="576"]Part of the In This Place exhibit at the Migration Museum in Adelaide Part of the In This Place exhibit at the Migration Museum in Adelaide[/caption]

    Museums are a doorway to a city

    Museums can be a great segue to a new city. There have been places where we haven’t been confident hitting the streets and exploring. The museums we’ve visited have acted as doorways to these new cities. Museums have helped us get comfortable in new cities, while also learning about the history. Museums are often easy to get to, so this helps expose us to the public transport system too.

    Museum Selfie Day

    Tomorrow (January 18th) is Museum Selfie Day. This is a day where you are encouraged to visit your local museum, take a gorgeous selfie, and post it to your social networks. I encourage you to if you get the chance. Museums are beautiful places, and they deserve for people to hop onto Instagram and say “this is my museum, I love it and you will too”.

    If you do get to a museum tomorrow make sure use the hashtag #museumselfie, and make sure to tag the museum as well so they can see all your awesome photos.
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  7. Let the sun shine: Benefits of getting enough sunlight in your lifeHow much sunlight do you see during your day? Did you know that the amount of sun you get in the morning can affect how well you sleep at night? Not to mention a whole bunch of other benefits to your body and mental wellbeing. Read on to find out just how helpful the sun can be, and you'll find a neat little sunlight visualisation technique at the end too.

    Depending on your job the amount of sunlight you get from day to day may differ. It is possible for office workers can sometimes go half a day without even seeing the sun properly. Back when I worked in a 9 - 5 office job (that was invariably actually 8:30 - at least 6) I would get into the office early, and sometimes not go back outside until late afternoon. Now this was in a building that had zero windows anywhere near the workspace, so I might not even see sunlight properly until 3 or 4 pm. I didn't even realise how much damage that would have been doing to me.

    Keep your rhythm steady

    The amount of exposure you get to sunlight is important in maintaining a steady circadian rhythm, which is responsible for your body's 24 hour cycle of physical, mental, and behavioural changes. Part of this is the sleep-wake cycle, which relies on morning sunlight to help you sleep at night (yes, getting enough sunlight in the morning can help you sleep better fifteen hours later).

    Natural sunlight helps your internal body clock to restart its daytime phase, which lets your body know that it is daytime and not nighttime. Since your body regulates how much sleep you need and when you feel tired and groggy, if this daytime phase is messed with then your energy levels and cognitive processing may be affected.

    • Try not to sit in dim settings during the day

    • Ensure you spend enough time in the sun in the morning

    • Make sure to take frequent breaks outside throughout the day

    Of course there are many factors that affect our biological clock and circadian rhythm, but studies show that light appears to be the most important. The timing of the exposure to light is also important, as the body is most responsive to sunlight in the early morning (between 6 and 8:30am). Exposure to sunlight later in the day, while still beneficial for other reasons, doesn't provide the same benefit.

    Keep your mood tiptop

    Did you know that sunlight is essentially a drug without the drugs? The chemical serotonin is regarded by some researchers as being responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression. Exposure to bright light, such as sunlight, is seen as a way to increase serotonin without the use of drugs.

    A study from the National Institute of Health showed that the production rate of serotonin was highest when the subjects stayed in sunlight for longer. The same study found that seasonal affective disorder, seasonal depression, and mood variation are all linked to sunlight exposure. Sunlight exposure during the summer can help your body stock up on vitamin D3, which is produced less in the winter months, and make way for the production of more serotonin. Essentially, spending time in the sun during summer can help you to avoid the winter blues.

    Visualise the sun

    Before you even get out of bed in the morning, get your day off to a positive start with the sunlight visualisation (if you can open the blinds in your bedroom so you have actual sunlight then even better).

    1. As you wake in the morning, lie perfectly still. Breathe in slowly and pay close attention to how it feels to hold in all that air. As you slowly exhale, imagine breathing out a brilliant golden light.

    2. As you continue to breathe, visualise the light growing and growing, until it envelops your whole body and then spreads out to fill the room.

    3. Enjoy the sensation of being bathed in warm light, allowing yourself to feel vibrant and rested. Then slowly open your eyes and get up.

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  8. Adversity and resilience lessons for life and business from DisneyThere's a lot of wisdom in Disney films, and not just for children either. Here are some of the most poignant quotes to inspire you to be more resilient in your work and your life.


    The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.
    The Emperor (Mulan)

    Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.
    Rafiki (The Lion King)

    The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.
    Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)

    In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
    Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)

    Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, Just keep swimming swimming swimming, What do we do we swim swim swim!
    Dory (Finding Nemo)

    No matter how your heart is grieving, If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.
    Cinderella (Cinderella)

    Giving up is for rookies.
    Philoctetes (Hercules)
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  9. Can you work out this simple coin trick?Let us know in the comments if you figured it out.

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  10. From the mouths of artists: Stop it and just DO!The creative process always comes easier to some people than others, and sometimes creative people need a bit of a kick to get the encouragement to stop worrying about what they are doing and just DO.

    This is what the American artist Sol LeWitt wrote to Eva Hesse, the Jewish German-born American sculptor responsible for ushering in the postminimal art movement in the 1960s.

    You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything.

    Sol LeWitt

    It can be refreshing to hear someone talking about the creative process so freely. It's even better if those words are being dramatically read by the incomparable Benedict Cumberbatch, who recently performed the 1965 letter written by Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse at Letters Live.


    Click here if you would like to read the full letter.


    Dear Eva,

    It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itchin, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

    From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and you [sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!

    I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!

    It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did. Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything.

    I would like to see your work and will have to be content to wait until Aug or Sept. I have seen photos of some of Tom’s new things at Lucy’s. They are impressive – especially the ones with the more rigorous form: the simpler ones. I guess he’ll send some more later on. Let me know how the shows are going and that kind of stuff.

    My work had changed since you left and it is much better. I will be having a show May 4 -9 at the Daniels Gallery 17 E 64yh St (where Emmerich was), I wish you could be there. Much love to you both.


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  11. Destroy your work, to make yourself better at itI know that this sounds bizarre, but it's true. There are benefits to creating, to producing artwork, poetry, designs, anything you can think of, and simply destroying it.

    Some of you may have already heard this theory, and whether you agree or not there are generations of artists and designers out there to back it up. Whether preparing you for a career in a creative industry or simply helping to grow as a person, read on.

    For the professionals

    When going through university a standard assignment for design students is to create a poster or some other artwork, go through feedback rounds to perfect it, and at the end of the cycle the student is told they are to destroy the piece. Literally, delete all files and rip the hard copies into pieces. The lesson here, so design lecturers say, is to not be emotionally attached to your work.

    While this may sound bizarre, it makes sense. In this context design students are looking to progress into jobs in the design industry, a place where negative feedback flies free, and if you are emotionally attached to your work then heartbreak soon follows. Learning not to be emotionally attached to your designs can benefit in more ways than one.

    • When you realise something isn't working and need to pull the plug on a design

    • If you receive critical feedback, whether from the client or a colleague

    • When handing the project over to a colleague to finish off

    • When working collaboratively within a team

    • In the event of a tech disaster where work gets lost

    By learning not to be emotionally attached to a design you are generally more open to change, making you a more flexible and efficient designer.

    For the artists

    For the artists out there I'm going to an artist for reference. Kurt Vonnegut, an American author with a career spanning fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction, claimed that destroying your work helps to make "your soul grow".

    In a letter written to the staff and students at Xavier High School, Kurt wrote the following...
    Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

    Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

    Kurt Vonnegut

    If you're so inclined, you can listen to Sir Ian McKellan recite this full letter through Letters Live.
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  12. Great Couch Co-op games for building teamworkIt's rare that I get to play video games with other people, but there's little I enjoy more than sitting on the couch with a few friends, controllers in hands. Online multiplayer may be making games much more accessible, but it's just not the same thing as being in the same room.

    Unfortunately for those of us that prefer our multiplayer a little more "in person", there aren't a whole lot of options. So with that here we are, some of my favourite local multiplayer, or "couch co-op" games.


    Steam, PS4, Xbox

    Overcooked at it's most basic is a simple construction game. Each level you are given a growing list of orders, a time limit, and a basic recipe. You need to pull ingredients from boxes, prepare them, cook them, and then serve them up to get a nice tip. It sounds simple, until you find yourself working in a kitchen spread across three high speed trucks. That's when you'll need to quickly work out a plan to enable you and your team to work effectively.


    You'll start off gentle. The early levels have some buffer time that means a wasted tomato here and there isn't the worst thing in the world, but that changes quickly. It will be up to you whether it's best to have set roles for each person working an assembly line, or if it's better for everyone to take charge and do whatever they think is most important at the time.

    The zen-like peace that comes with your group finishing a level with such perfection that you might as well be telepathic is just as satisfying as the hilarity that ensues when things just refuse to go right. Keep in mind that while the game does encourage you to work as a team to achieve the goals, there will undoubtedly still be frantic swearing and hurt feelings.


    Steam, PS4

    N++ doesn't really have a narrative, and there is nothing to do in except run, jump, flick a switch, collect some gold, and then exit the level. The problem is the spikes, robots, and many falls from great heights that come in between.

    N++ is a fun and tricky single player game, but when you add another player things get even more complicated. Some levels put both of you in the same space so you essentially have two chances to get through the level, but other levels have you in different chambers. These levels rely on one player flicking switches and opening doors to enable the other player to get through the level. Communication, planning and speed is a must.

    You will die. Repeatedly. Sometimes because you stepped on a mine, sometimes because you've held the kill button down for five minutes out of pure frustration. But this is a great bonding game for two people to work through. While you will definitely die many, many times, by the end of it you'll be better off for it.


    PS4, Xbox, PC

    Co-op is an interesting beast when it comes to Spelunky. While it's true that all players are working towards the same goal, you're not on equal footing. Player one is marked with a white flag, indicating that they are controlling the camera. Other players need to stay close enough to player one to remain on screen, because if you are off screen for too long you die mysteriously. Because of this it's a little like the other players need to put their faith in player one, and player one needs to remember to look after their teammates (don't speed ahead, make sure the group is staying together, etc).


    Contrary to what some people say it is entirely possible to play through the entire game start to finish in the co-op mode, but you do need to be in a special kind of sync with the person you're playing with if you want to do it successfully.

    In a game like Spelunky damaging and even killing team members is surprisingly easy. Everybody has a whip, bombs, and the ability to throw stones in confined spaces. While some of the best fun we've had has been in free-for-alls throwing each other off of ledges, if you're going to work through the game properly then then communication and respect for other players is a must.

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  13. Why S.T.E.M. is important for young and oldHere at BrainHackr we have a keen passion for all things S.T.E.M. Our team of contributors consists of everything from designers and developers to neuro-linguistic programmers and those with degrees in psychology and hypnotherapy. In the lead up to National Science Week this seems like a great time to explain a little bit about why.

    S.T.E.M. is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. In essence, S.T.E.M. makes up every part of our day to day lives, because the practices that make it up are everywhere.

    • Science is all around us, everything that we see. This includes the sun, moon, stars, clouds, animals, plants, from the food we eat to the products we use.

    • Technology is growing and influencing our lives at an ever increasing pace, yes, but technology also goes back much farther than that. Look at the first televisions, radios, long distance communication and see how far we've come.

    • Engineering covers everything from your local wifi network to the design of roads, sewerage systems and everything else you could think of.

    • Mathematics (despite what you told your high school maths teacher) is a part of every occupation and so much of what we do in our lives.

    Whether you realise it or not, S.T.E.M. is part of your day to day life. I can't put it any more eloquently than Rosalind Franklin, the English chemist who made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite.
    You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated. Science, for me, gives a partial explanation of life. In so far as it goes, it is based on fact, experience and experiment… In my view, all that is necessary for faith is the belief that by doing our best we shall come nearer to success and that success in our aims (the improvement of the lot of mankind, present and future) is worth attaining.

    Rosalind Franklin

    At BrainHackr we focus on these areas together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how humans learn most effectively. S.T.E.M. is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that is coupled with hands-on, problem-based learning. A STEM-literate person is not only an innovator and critical thinker, but is able to make meaningful connections between community, work and global issues.

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  14. What are your islands of personality?As we've written about before, Inside Out is a treasure trove of lessons that we can all learn from. Today, however, I'd like to go down a more practical route.

    In the Pixar film we see inside the mind of eleven year old Riley, where, among other creative metaphors, she has five "islands of personality". These are representations of the five most important aspects of Riley's life, namely; her family, honesty, hockey, friendship, and being a goofball. What I want you to do today is decide, what would your islands of personality be?

    Why should you do this?

    This is a fair question. This may seem a bit like a school exercise, but there is a reason why I'm asking you to do this.

    Islands of personality is just another way of defining your key values. Values are what give us our sense of purpose, why we do what we do. When we understand our key values we are better equipped to make decisions about our lives, we can set better goals because we understand what our passions are and what really drives us. This exercise is designed to help us think this through, and decide what our key values are.

    So what do you need to do?

    Think about what is really important to you. Is it your family? How about your friends? Is it your work, or maybe your hobbies? Where do you find your zen and your happiness? Don't just focus on today, what were your influences growing up? Were you a sporty kid? Did you have any passions when you were younger that helped you get to this point in your life?

    I can give you a personal example. I spent some time thinking about my life, what I do, why I do it, and came up with a list of my islands of personality.

    Friendship Island
    I pride myself on being there for friends, being part of a group and giving value to those around me.

    Creativity Island
    I thrive being a creative person. This is why I have ended up in the line of work I'm in. I strive to be creative every day, in whatever form that takes.

    Music Island
    I'm not a singer or a musician, but having music in my life has always been effective when trying to staying motivated.

    Knowledge Island
    Knowledge and information has always been important to me. From a young age I would read anything I could, from Roald Dahl books to encyclopedias.

    Diversity Island
    I have trouble living in the routine. I love diversity, being able to explore, doing different things, and growing.

    Now it's your turn. What are your islands of personality?

    And what next?

    Now that you have your islands worked out, what to do with them?

    It's all well and good to do this exercise once and move on, but to be effective it's important to keep your values front and centre in your mind. There's a few ways you could do this...

    • Write them on post-its, and stick them somewhere you see every day.

    • Find photos that represents your islands and have them printed. Keep them in frames around your house.

    • Factor them into your other creative exercises, like your morning pages.

    • Discuss them with your spouse or your friends, it's easier to live by your values if those around you know what they are, or even better share them with you.

    Of course we'd like to hear what you come up with, and I'd love to see how you find a way to integrate them into your lives. Share your islands in the comments below, and if you've found a cool way to keep them front and centre in your mind, share them on Facebook.
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  15. Pro Tips: Tom Daley's tips to stay motivatedTom Daley was one of Britain's youngest-ever Olympians, and has a slew of medals from the Commonwealth Games and other world championships. If you're looking for someone to take some motivation tips from, who better to pick than an Olympian?

    If you don't follow Tom Daley on YouTube and Instagram, you should. His accounts are full of tips on staying motivated, keeping fit, setting goals and eating well. They are definitely well worth a follow.

    If you want more tips on raising your motivation, check out the rest of our motivation posts here.

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  16. Lessons from Inside OutIf you haven't seen Inside Out yet, you should. Inside Out takes place in the mind of 11 year old Riley, a happy hockey loving 11 year old who's world gets turned upside down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Along the way Riley learns to wrangle five personifications of her emotions, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger.

    I've watched this movie a few times now and it's lessons stick with me long after the movie is over. Inside Out isn't a movie just for children but for all ages, there is something in it for everyone. Here are three lessons that really got me thinking.

    There is more to being happy than boundless positivity




    All right everyone, fresh start! We're gonna have a good day, which will turn into a good week, which will turn into a good year, which will turn into a good life!

    Inside Out begins with a manic pixie type emotion called Joy that helms the controls inside Riley's mind. Joy's overarching goal is to ensure that Riley is always happy, but by the end of the film Joy, like Riley and the audience, learn that there is much, much more to being happy than boundless positivity. Joy's initial short-sightedness keeps her from seeing the benefit of other emotions.

    Joy's lesson in Inside Out is that forcing happiness isn't necessarily a good idea. The more people strive for happiness, the greater the chance that they'll set very high standards and feel disappointed and less happy when they're not able to meet those standards all the time. So what's a more effective route to happiness? Recent research points to the importance of 'prioritising positivity', deliberately putting time aside in life for experiences that we enjoy. Fostering happiness, not forcing it.


    Emotions help us to understand and process the world




    Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life's problems.

    Early in the movie Joy admits she doesn't understand what Sadness is for or why she's in Riley's head. It seems Sadness simply slows down Joy's desire for quick decisions and quick fixes, she is a sluggish, slumped-shouldered character who Joy literally has to drag around Riley's mind.

    Sadness is responsible for some of the movie's greatest revelations, I won't give them away if you haven't seen it yet but for those who have I'm sure you connected strongly with Sadness. Sadness helps us understand the world, like she helps Bing Bong when he feels dejected after the loss of his wagon. Where Joy's attempt to put a positive spin on Bing Bong's loss failed, Sadness's empathic understanding helps him recover.

    While emotions like sadness, fear and anger can be extremely uncomfortable, all of these emotions serve an important purpose. Emotions provide insight that can help us connect with others, avoid danger or recover from loss. Don't ignore them, they are there to help you grpw and learn.


    Suppressing an emotion isn't the answer




    I know you don't want me to, but... I miss home. I miss Minnesota. You need me to be happy, but I want my old friends and my hockey team... I wanna go home. Please don't be mad…

    Riley wants to be happy, just as her parents and any other 11-year-old girl thinks she should be, but she becomes overwhelmed with the different feelings she's begun experiencing.. Unable to cope, Riley loses interest in friends, activities and core personality traits that once made her happy and made her the person she is. This, of course, psychologists will say is a classic description of depression.

    At one point, Joy attempts to prevent Sadness from having any influence on Riley's psyche by drawing a small "circle of sadness" in chalk and instructing Sadness to stay within it. This type of emotional suppression is known to lead to anxiety and depression, particularly among teenagers.

    This can sound familiar to many people that have experienced depression, which is why Inside Out is such a great representation of the issue. In the end instead of avoiding or denying Sadness, Joy accepts Sadness for who she is. When Riley eventually breaks down, releasing all the emotion bundled inside and embracing her feelings, she is able to begin rebuilding and moving forward.


    Inside Out is full of lessons for both young and old, and is already being used to help in counselling children all over the world. The lessons about loss, sacrifice, the importance of emotions and how to cope with change (just to name a few) are proving invaluable for children.

    When the story was pitched to Mindy Kaling, the voice for Disgust, she broke down in tears, explaining...
    I just think it's really beautiful that you guys are making a story that tells kids that it's difficult to grow up and it's OK to be sad about it.
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  17. It's time to flex your rebusYou might be asking what exactly is a rebus, and how do you flex it? A ‘rebus’ is a puzzle where a word, or part of a word, is represented by a picture. The picture can be an exact interpretation of the word or a visual pun which, when read correctly, constructs the word.

    The origins of the rebus date back to fifteenth-century Europe, when the creation and publication of books of riddles and word puzzles became widespread. Magazines, almanacs and even high-brow literary journals would publish word puzzles for the entertainment of their readers. Many famous writers, poets and politicians throughout history, including Jonathan Swift, Lewis Carroll, Horatio Walpole and William Cowper were known to enjoy solving word puzzles, as well as creating puzzles for the amusement of their contemporaries. Rebuses can often be found in coats of arms hinting at the name of the owner, for example William Shakespeare’s coat of arms contains a spear.

    This practice of hiding rebus puzzles inside coats of arms is still used by the members of the British Royal family today. Take a close look at Princess Beatrice of York’s coat of arms, particularly around the collar on the Lion and Unicorn. Notice anything?

    [caption id="attachment_3050" align="aligncenter" width="300"]1530px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Beatrice_of_York.svg There is a pattern of three bees, ‘bees thrice’, a rebus puzzle for Beatrice.[/caption]

    There are rebus puzzles everywhere on the internet and they are usually a lot of fun to work out. Solving rebus puzzles flexes your language, logic, lateral thinking and rational thinking abilities. The guys and gals over at have some great puzzles on their site, check out these two examples, answers below with a link to more of their great puzzles.







    Could you figure them out? In case you couldn't puzzle 1 was "Oh say can you see" and puzzle 2 was "To be or not to be, that is the question". Check out more rebus puzzles over at

    Rebus puzzles can be a lot of fun, both creating them and solving them. If you want to have a go at creating your own rebus puzzles, check out our Rebus Puzzle Magnets in the BrainHackr shop.


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  18. Importance of play for everyoneLet's say you saw someone at their desk playing with a ball of play dough or a set of Lego or even a bucket of sand. You would probably think to yourself, 'it's time for Bob over there to grow up'. You wouldn't be alone in that thought, either. Modern society tends to dismiss play for adults. Play is perceived as being a waste of time and unproductive. We identify anyone that enjoys playing with things as 'childish' or 'immature'.

    We're taught early on in our adolescence that we need to grow up and join the world, get serious and get rid of the toys. The only play we're left with is competitive things like sports, and that becomes less about play but more about winning.

    Recent research has shown that people of all ages benefit from unstructured play time, as a release from the grind of daily life. As we grow up we don't lose the need for novelty and pleasure, play has the ability to fulfil those needs while also helping to relieve stress, boost creativity, improve brain function and even build relationships with other people we engage with through play.

    Think about that, back in your school days how did you build relationships? That's right, through play. It's accepted by psychologists and researchers as an essential part of childhood development, and unfortunately play is on the decline for young ones as well. In a 2011 article in the American Journal of Play, researchers identified not just a decline in play but how its absence in adolescence can lead to behaviour issues later in life including depression and anxiety.

    Since around 1995 children's free play has been in continuous decline, at least partly because adults have exerted ever increasing control over children's activities. Play can be all around us, if you have kids don't pressure them to grow up. Get involved with them. Build a Lego bridge, a play dough dragon or even just a sand castle.

    A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.
    Roald Dahl

    Dr. Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play calls play a “state of being,” “purposeless, fun and pleasurable.” For the most part, the focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal, he says.

    Also, the activity is needless. For some people knitting is pure pleasure; for others, it’s pure torture. For Brown, who’s almost 80, play is tennis with friends and a walk with his dog.

    Think of things you used to do in the past, mine your history for fond memories of play. Can you recreate that today? Try and surround yourself with playful people and if you have kids in your family take some time to engage them in a bit of play! If you're still stuck go and get a set of Lego or try some play dough and see what you can create.

    I’m all around you, yet I go mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until I am missing, what am I?

    If you said 'play', you'd be correct! It could also be oxygen, but for now it's play :) Now turn the screen off and go play.

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  19. Creative Tips from Creative WritersYou might think that writing children's books would be easy, but according to legendary children's author Roald Dahl children's books are some of the hardest books to write. We've collected some top tips for staying creative and open minded while writing.

    Let the creativity flow

    When getting started, don't restrict yourself. You may have an idea about what you want to write, but if the creative process takes you a different direction just strap yourself in and go with it.
    Surprise yourself. You may start your writing thinking you know the whole plan, and then another idea might come to you as you write. Let it happen!
    B.J. Novak

    Exercise your brain

    There are many ways to get the creative juices flowing. Whether you'd like to do something extensive like 'morning papers', or just make a commitment to write a few sentences a day, working out your brain helps to get you moving.
    Write every single day. It might be a diary or a blog. It could be a line or two of poetry. It doesn’t matter. Just get into the habit of writing every single day. As you exercise to keep fit, so writing is like a muscle too. You don’t have to show what you’ve written to anyone else either. It can be for your eyes only.
    Pete Johnson

    Some suggest sitting in bed and writing whatever comes to mind to meet your quota. If you're feeling particularly inspired, go further...
    Write. Write anything: shopping lists for characters, adverts for new inventions, newspaper articles about imaginary events. Be creative and see what comes out of it.
    Mark Lowery

    Experience different things, and think about them differently

    Many find inspiration in what they encounter every day, but one way to get into a creative or inspired mood is to get out of the norm. If you walk to work every day, maybe take a different route. Go to a different coffee shop. Find ways to experience how other people do the same things you do, and celebrate the differences.
    Go for a walk. Look up and down and around you in a way you may not have done before. You’ll see things you’ve never seen and discover new perspectives on things you thought were very familiar.
    Eva Katzler

    Once you get into the routine of doing this, turn it on it's head. Imagine how you can do things even more differently. What if the coffee shop you are in didn't have seats, what would people do?
    Turn things on their head. When you're having a cup of tea, for instance, think about what it would be like if you were having that tea on Mars, or on a train in Turkey in 1910 or a submarine in ww2. What would be different? How would you describe it?
    Jamie Thomson

    If you want more tips from children's authors and illustrators, check out for their lists of top tips from creative types.

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  20. Using Morning Pages to help creativityMorning pages are a recent trend being picked up by those hoping to increase their creativity, exercise their brains, and start their morning fresh. The basic idea is to spend 15 minutes every morning writing three pages. Your writings could include:

    • A random brain dump of whatever pops into your head,

    • Poetry, a story, or other kind of prose,

    • A summary of how your day was yesterday,

    • A detailing of the dreams you had the previous night, or

    • Anything, literally anything you feel like writing.

    Watch this video for an introduction to morning pages. We'd be eager to hear from anyone that have tried this method in the past, and how you feel the process helped you in clearing your mind and increasing your creativity.

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  21. Build it like Beckham: Play by the professionalsEarlier today we talked about the importance of play. It may be perceived by some as a waste of time and unproductive, but play has the ability to help us escape the daily grind, relieve stress, boost creativity, improve brain function and even help build relationships.

    In our recommendations for play we mentioned trying out play with some Lego, it's easily accessible and has many play possibilities. It turns out even the rich and famous recognise the need for play, and even try out a bit of Lego themselves.

    David Beckham, speaking with the Sunday Times magazine revealed he builds Lego models to control anxiety, saying the plays with the children's toys because it helps to calm him down.

    When the kids finish school, they might have different activities going on, like football or rugby. But when they get home we'll often play one of their favourite games, like Connect 4. They also love Lego. So do I. The last big thing I made was Tower bridge. It was amazing. I think Lego sometimes helps to calm me down.
    David Beckham

    The 38-year-old said playing with Lego is similar to cooking, which he finds "very therapeutic".

    Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond said building Lego models aided his recovery from a 300mph jet car crash that nearly killed him in 2006. "Lego saved my life. It's really good therapy for a brain injury," he told the Daily Mirror.

    So there you have it, play is making a comeback. You’re not alone now get to it and play!

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  22. World Creativity & Innovation Week 2016World Creativity and Innovation Week is a global celebration held every year from April 15th - 21st. During WCIW people are inspired and encouraged to use their creativity and generate new ideas.

    WCIW is a time to inspire new action, create novel ideas, make new decisions; to solve problems in new ways, do something new, support new thinking, partner with new people, use a new pair of eyes.

    During WCIW this year we have a schedule of posts about how you can use and increase your creative skills in your everyday lives, and we'll be highlighting creative visionaries that you can learn from.

    To get in the WCIW mood we have created some Facebook cover images that you can download and use today. Simply click any of the images below to see the full image, then right click and select 'save image'.

    Light painting at Innes National Park, South Australia

    Natural History Museum, London

    Morialta Conservation Park, South Australia

    Illustration by Adam WinstonPhoto Port Festival 2015, Port Adelaide, South Australia

    Rundle Mall, Adelaide.

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  23. Lessons from Presidents past and presentThe U.S. election season is in full swing at the moment, as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders go head to head for the Democratic nomination, and a handful of Republicans do the same on the other side. Given the legacy that whoever wins the election will need to live up to, I thought it would be a good time to revisit some of the wisdom of Presidents past and present. These are lessons that we can all learn from, from presidents down to the head of the neighbourhood watch.

    He was the first president, so it's fitting that we start with George Washington...


    it is better to be alone than in bad company.



    You are the company you keep, so choose wisely

    George Washington
    1st U.S. President

    Another way of saying this one is that it is hard to stay clean when you choose messy friends. When you choose your team choose wisely, because you are as good as those that support you, and it is better to be alone than be in bad company.



    Press on (a.k.a. just keep swimming)

    Barack Obama
    44th U.S. President

    Whether you are a president or a team leader, life can be tough. There are highs and lows, wins and losses. While the wins are great, it is sometimes how we take the losses that define us. I hate to equate a United States president with a fish, but this advice has never been better summed up than by Dory in Finding Nemo.



    The future rewards those who press on. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I don't have time to complain. I'm going to press on.



    I'm not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.



    You don't need to know it all

    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    32nd U.S. President

    One person can't know everything, and they shouldn't need to. Leadership isn't about knowing everything, sometimes it's about surrounding yourself with people that do. Build yourself a team of knowledgable people, people that you can trust, that aren't afraid to tell the truth, and you will go far.



    Education is key

    John F. Kennedy
    35th U.S. President

    Whether it be formal education or life lessons, education is what we all need to be able to answer the important questions of our world. This goes double for those that choose (or have been chosen) to be leaders. Education helps us to become leaders in our own lives and role models to others.





    Whoever the United States ends up with as their new leader at the start of next year will have big shoes to fill and new challenges to face. Are there any other presidential wisdoms you think are worthy of this list?
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  24. Zig when others zag: what we can all learn from David BowieAfter an 18 month secret battle with cancer, David Bowie, sadly passed away on January the 10th surrounded by his family and friends. David Bowie held a place in all of our hearts at BrainHackr, for his rebellion against societal and gender norms, his film work and of course his music.

    Bowie was a master in the constantly changing business of popular culture. He was a true craftsman who managed to stay relevant and in demand from his rise to fame in the sixties through to today. In a seemingly monochromatic world Bowie provided vibrant colour, living on the cutting edge of creativity. Nearly always in a constant state of reinvention, Bowie never shied away from taking risks, often showcasing what many felt were off limits or taboo in society. Many people in the world today are more free to live the way they choose because of the actions of David Bowie.

    Here are five lessons we can all put into practice as we celebrate his legacy.





    Tap into hardship

    "I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I'm not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does"

    Bowie's music was deeply affected by world events. His catalysts for creativity usually began with thoughts and feelings of things like despair, fear and isolation. Essentially from the ashes he could grow an idea. Life is full of struggles and Bowie drew his strength and genius from many of those struggles, turning them into something beautiful and expressive.

    Everything in life presents opportunity, the good and the bad, its up to us to find our own creative genius within it.






    Embrace change

    "I suppose for me as an artist it wasn't always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go"

    Bowie changed personas frequently throughout his career, embracing new styles of music, fashion, sounds and effects. He found success with 'space oddity' and two albums later sharpened his focus with his alter ego 'Ziggy Stardust', so what did he do next? He retired from live performances, retreating from the spotlight and working on a musical adaption of George Orwell's 1984.

    Bowie remained relevant for more than 40 years, he tried out most forms of music and was one of the pioneers of electro, who would have thought the rocker would lead the future club scene? Bowie was eccentric and liked to try new ideas, but he also embraced others' ideas and quickly worked them into his narrative.

    If you aren't open to change you will get left behind.






    Branch out but know your core business

    "Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming"

    Bowie dabbled in a bit of everything, he wasn't afraid to experiment and did it all, from film to theatre to being at the top when music videos emerged and became modern music practice. Bowie's films included 'The Man Who Fell to Earth', Jim Henson's 1986 classic 'Labyrinth', and even as recent as 2006 when Bowie starred as Nikola Tesla in the film 'The Prestige'. But amongst all of this Bowie didn't neglect his core business, he wrote songs and produced albums for the likes of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Mott the Hoople. He worked with jazz musicians and classical artists.

    Bowie knew his core business but always took the opportunity to experiment.






    Zig when others zag

    "I re-invented my image so many times that I'm in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman"

    Every time audiences thought they had Bowie worked out he would pivot. He approached every project with a fresh creative slate and was always willing to turn everything that had come before upside down.

    Don't get stuck in your own thinking. Treat every new adventure as a fresh start.






    Surround yourself with visionaries

    "Don't you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything"

    Bowie was well known for his incredible collaborations with other musicians, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop to name a few. Bowie was a builder who believed that the creative process was only as good as the sum of its individual parts, team work was fundamental to his growth.

    Surround yourself with people that complement and challenge you.


    From us at Brainhackr rest in peace David, you will be greatly missed.

    Now lets celebrate Bowie's 1969 hit Space Oddity, performed in a touching tribute by Col. Chris Haddfield about the International Space Station.
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  25. Tips for staying positive when you're working soloI am a freelance designer and developer by trade, and for the past year, since leaving my last traditional full time job, I have been working mostly from my home office. This has many benefits, such as being able to work when I want to, picking and choosing clients, and of course being able to work in my slippers occasionally. The downside is that my dogs aren't great for conversation. Coming from the exciting and lively world of design and advertising, I quickly started suffering from something that many freelancers suffer from; the loneliness of working in a silo.

    Many people find the solitude of working alone a big deterrent to sticking it out and making their freelance business work. Now that I am into my second year of freelancing, I'd like to take this opportunity to share these tips with others that might be starting out working for themselves.





    Find ways to celebrate.

    At my last traditional job we had many celebratory traditions, from Friday night drinks to opening a bottle of Moet upon finishing a big project. These little traditions are great for team bonding, but they are also ways to mark milestones and celebrate little successes. Of course I don't recommend opening a bottle of champaign for yourself every time you finish a project, but there are little ways that you can replicate this. Go out for lunch, have a cider, keep a box of cookies reserved for special occasions, anything to mark a little triumph.

    Depending on the project you could include your clients on this. This can help them feel appreciated and make the relationship feel more like a partnership, rather than a client/supplier relationship.






    Find (or make) a community.

    The main drawback for freelancing that I have found is the lack of human interaction. I came from an environment where I worked closely with 6 or 7 outspoken designers and developers, so we were in near constant conversation most days. Flash forward and I am sitting at a desk by myself, with no one but my dogs to talk to. This can be a startling change that can take a while to get use to. Fortunately there are ways around this.

    • Find a Facebook group with other freelance professionals that are going through the same experience. In Adelaide there is the Freelance Creatives of Adelaide group. A community of colleagues in the freelancing space can be a great outlet to talk through frustrations, reach out for help, or simply just engage in conversation. You'll quickly find that the people in this network become your de facto colleagues, even though you are working by yourself.

    • The best way I find to work out problems or destress from a situation is to talk it out. Talk to your friends or family about your work. Exciting projects you're working on, client that has been frustrating you, whatever they're interested in listening to.

    • Join a co-working space in your area. These are shared office spaces that hire out desks for freelancers or people working remotely. While you shouldn't set up in a co-working space and blab your deskmate's ear off, working in a shared environment can give you a professional social outlet. Co-working spaces have shared kitchens, and many organise shared lunches and group events.

    Human contact is crucial to getting out of your own head for a bit, and clearing out some of those cobwebs that come from working like a hermit.






    Find ways to get out of the house.

    I use to get a lot of my exercise making my way to and from the office. This included walking to and from public transport, and then walking briskly through the city to the office and back. All up this ended up being about two hours of exercise a day, not including walking around at lunch and in the office. Once I started freelancing my commute went from an hour down to about 20 seconds (the distance between my bedroom and my office). This took a big toll on my wellbeing.

    Getting out of the house as regularly as you can can help you to stay motivated, feel better, and stay connected with the world outside your window. I have two huskies, and I try my best to get them out for a walk before I start work, and at lunch time. This helps me get out of the house and gets them some much needed exercise.

    You can also try working nomadically from time to time. Sometimes I grab my laptop and set up on a bench at the park for a few hours. You could try working in a coffee shop, a library, even a museum if they don't mind you sitting there for a while.






    Find your most productive work hours.

    There is nothing more demoralising than sitting at your desk trying to work and inspiration just not quite coming. If this happens to you a lot it might be that 9 - 5 hours just aren't for you (and we already know that that's the case for a lot of people).

    When you are working for yourself you aren't locked into the traditional 9 to 5 system. Find the time that works best for you, and settle into your own routine. I have colleagues that do their best work before 9am, so they are up working while I'm still snoozing. Of course it is important to remember that your clients will likely still be calling between 9 and 5, so you should still be available, but other than that work when it works for you.


    Of course these tips are coming from someone that has been working as a freelancer for a year. I'm sure some of you out there have been playing this game for much longer, so what are some of your tips? Share them below.
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  26. Words and phrases to keep out of the workplaceLast week we revealed five words and phrases to avoid when writing emails. This week we expand on that, with words and phrases that should stay out of the workplace all together.





    'We've always done it that way.' If you are uttering these immortal words, then chances are there isn't a real reason. You might need to ask yourself why it has always been done this way, and find out if there is a better way to get things done.






    Effective communicators at all levels of business take responsibility for ensuring their communications have been received and understood. The phrase 'you misunderstood,' which implies that the blame lies with the recipient rather than the sender, should not be uttered.

    This falls into the same category as these blame-shifting phrases:

    • I thought he was going to do that.

    • That isn't my fault.

    • I was just doing what I was told.






    'I'll try' fills nobody with confidence. If you believe there's a reason something may not be successful, make it clear. Do or do not, there is no try.






    Are you, like, literally a teenage girl? That's the impression that people may get if you rely on these filler words in general conversation. Be confident, speak clearly.






    'I think' it's obvious what's wrong with this one. Just like when it's used in emails, the phrase 'I think' comes across as unsure and lacking confidence. What do you think sounds more confident?

    • I think this plan will be successful.

    • I am confident that this plan will be successful.

    Or even just...

    • This plan will be successful.


    There are, obviously, more phrases to be on the lookout for, but this gives you a head start. Find a way to be mindful of these phrases, and instantly sound more professional in your workplace.
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  27. What is 'hindsight bias' and how can you stop it from affecting your future plans?Think back to the last mistake you made. It may have been a project which seemed so strong in its construction, only to have collapsed during the execution. It could have been a lapse in judgement, a tactical error, or something out of your control entirely. All of these causes may differ, but one way in which they relate is how we look back on them with the feeling, however nonsensical, that we should have seen the result coming; that it was obviously going to fail. We lay the blame on our lack of foresight. If this sounds familiar then read on, because it might not be true, and it might be holding you back.

    The phenomenon we're referring to is a logical memory fallacy commonly known as Hindsight Bias, or ‘Known-All-Along’ thinking. And it doesn't just apply to our own personal experiences. For example, these days we look back at major historic events, such as the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and with our knowledge of how the war had flowed until then, it seems so inevitable that an atomic bomb would be the endpoint. But in reality, even high ranking officers on both sides could not have predicted such a devastating outcome would occur, let alone leave such a lasting impact. Hindsight bias might make us believe that if those events were to play out again then it would lead to the same inevitable outcome, but change just a few details and the outcome could have been very different.

    Hindsight bias is a funny creature. It can increase our confidence in an outcome by changing details in the way we remember past experiences. For projects that failed we see a lot more of our failure, and the way in which we let it happen, than we should. It is easy for this to lead to a belief that we sabotage our own productivity, because we should have known that it was a dud to begin with, almost like we are deliberately wasting our time. On the flip-side, when thinking back on successful projects hindsight bias glosses over the potential tripping points that occurred, and lead us to think that since it worked last time it’s sure to work next time. Of course neither is necessarily true, as the specific circumstances will be different every time. That’s where the danger of hindsight bias lies.


    How does the science behind hindsight Bias work?



    A multi-disciplinary review of Hindsight bias was undertaken in 2012 by psychological scientists Roese and Vohs, with results suggesting that Hindsight bias occurs on three separate cognitive levels, which stack to form a warped perspective that we can often mistake as reality.

    At the most basic level, Memory distortion, we create a warped account of the events passed, often by misremembering a pre-existing opinion or judgement of the situation. Whether this judgement was doubt, fear or hesitance, it may only have lasted for a fraction of a second, or perhaps not even at a conscious level. The warped retrieval of this judgement in any case will be hardly representative of the initial though.

    This judgement that has risen to the surface in hindsight is further reinforced by the second level; Inevitability. Here we find the brain creating a new belief that the events which have unfolded were almost compulsory. By thinking that the event was always going to happen, we are made to feel foolish for trying to go against the forces of nature.

    By the third level, Foreseeability, we have placed scorn in our ability to not recognise the 'solid' nature of the events which have passed, and as a result we form a belief that we should have been able to see the situation occurring such as it did, long beforehand.


    How can we work around Hindsight Bias?

    The fallibility of human memory is capable of creating numerous roadblocks in our ability to learn and coordinate our actions. The issue of hindsight bias can occur before we even start! Overconfidence in our memory can fuel a common error of logic; thinking without attempting to seek disconfirming evidence. This leads to a forced narrative created by the events we have known to pass, which can have serious drawbacks. Namely, important information can be disregarded for not fitting the narrative of events we have created in our mind. We encourage all readers to be critical thinkers, and as a critical thinker it is essential to take this concept with you; knowing the outcome of an event biases our recall.
    “If you feel like you knew it all along, it means you won't stop to examine why something really happened. It's often hard to convince seasoned decision makers that they might fall prey to hindsight bias."
    (Roese, 2012)

    With the understanding of hindsight bias, you should be able to identify when it is in effect.

    When you next reflect on a project which has turned out how you ‘expected all along’, try to critically review the following questions:

    The Prediction:

    • When I first got a feeling of how things would turn out, what evidence did I have?

    • Why was I certain that this would turn out as it did?

    • Was it just a gut feeling?

    • Is it possible that this feeling has inflated after the fact?

    The Project:

    • Is it possible that I am misremembering how I viewed the project?

    • What positive aspects can I recall about creating the project? (keep in mind that it is unlikely that no positive aspects existed beforehand; one clear sign that you are reflecting on the past with bias).

    The outcome:

    • Was the outcome really inevitable?

    • Can this be proven with a causal link?

    • Can this be statistically proven to have likely occurred this way?

    • How could this have panned out differently?

    • What could be done to make this different?

    By critically reviewing the factors which make hindsight bias occur, situations which feel like an inevitable failure can now be reassessed to find the more objective data that was initially dismissed by bias. From this, we can separate the inevitable, the chance, and the areas which needed improvement.

    It is important to realise that mistakes an and will happen, and that not every mistake will be so clear when it first reveals itself. Holding on to the guilt of past mistakes, much like holding onto blind superstitions of past successes, will only cause roadblocks in understanding the true causal nature of your actions. To Err is Human, and for as long as you are discovering new errors, you are never failing; only learning.
    "You Tried something, you found out you were wrong, and now you know what not to do next time. Eureka! You have learned something. Isn't that important? Isn't it the product of some daring, some effort, and a drive to learn?”
    Paul Hauck
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  28. Just Not Sorry: Helping you write better emails in 2016Last week we wrote a list of words that you should avoid in email. These were words that are often misinterpreted in emails, and can make the sender sound like they are lacking confidence or unsure of what they are doing. It turns out this was perfect timing, because in the last fortnight a great new Chrome plugin was released that can help you solve this issue.

    Just Not Sorry is a Gmail extension that warns you when you write emails using words which undermine your message.

    "We've found people that have started using it actually get a lot more mindful around the use of these words. That makes us happy."
    Tammi Reiss

    The words and phrases that this extension detects include:

    • just

    • actually

    • sorry

    • apologize

    • I think

    • I'm no expert

    • does that make sense

    Tammi Reiss, who came up with the idea for the plugin, said she chose these words based on the idea that many women use these phrases to soften their language in the office or to try to be more likable. The flipside of that is that in so doing they often devalue themselves. While the plugin was originally designed to help women in the workplace, these are phrases that we should all be filtering out of our vocabulary.

    I'll leave you with the pledge that the crew behind Just Not Sorry asks you to take on their website, If you're using Gmail give it a go, and tell us if it helps you to keep an eye on the language you use.
    In 2016, I will be a more effective communicator. I will only use "sorry" in emails when I mean it. I will not say "I think" things that I know. I will be more conscious of my tone and it's impact.
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  29. Words to avoid in emailDo you feel like you struggle to get your point across at work? Are you failing to garner the respect you think you deserve in the office? It's possible it could all be down to a few phrases you're using in your emails.

    Email etiquette is tricky, and it's important to remember that your message might not be being read the way you think it sounds. Words that you feel help you sound friendly could come across as sounding unsure, and trying to soften the blow of feedback or instructions could be interpreted as lacking confidence.

    We've put together a list of 5 words that you should consider avoiding in your emails. If you find yourself using any of these words it might be time to get out the thesaurus.


    Adding 'just' to your emails can make you seem less confident, and phrases like 'just checking in' minimises the importance of your request. Re-think that sentence.


    Hopefully you don't use this one too often. Using the word 'Hopefully' gives the impression you don't have control, or that you are unreliable and don't really know what is going on. You shouldn't need to be hopeful for anything. Be confident, and stick to the facts.


    Using the word 'but' is lazy, and often greatly overused. The word is jarring and tends to be a little too informal for business use. There are better ways to interrupt yourself in an email, use a hyphen or a comma instead.

    Kind of

    Relying on 'kind of' comes across as though you are not committing, are unsure of how to convey your idea, or are too fearful to be upfront. If any of these are true then you need to stop writing your email, clear up the confusion, and start again.


    Apologies should not be made via email, if you have made a mistake pick up the phone and apologise like you mean it.

    While you shouldn't apologise for yourself in emails you should also be conscious of how aggressive you are coming across. Emotion and tone don't come through via email, and anything that is critical is going to come across as aggressive. Always wrap critical statements with positives to soften the blow and lose the perceived aggression.

    Efficient emails need to be direct, clear, honest and open. With busy schedules and looming deadlines, not many people want to read wordy emails chockfull of filler words. Keep it brief and remember, being succinct isn't rude, it's thoughtful and shows you understand how important the recipient's time really is.
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  30. Learning teamwork and time management from MinecraftThe benefits of using Minecraft in education have been written about by people more clever and nerdy than I. I have read blogs and magazine articles, listened to lectures and watched videos explaining how Minecraft is being used to teach history, math, programming and every other subject under the sun. Something I have seen less written about is how kids (and even adults) can learn core productivity concepts from playing Minecraft.

    In case you have never played (or maybe even heard of) Minecraft, Bec Oakley from MineMum has written a great overview of the basics of what Minecraft is.

    The basics of Time Management

    The Minecraft world is set to a constant pattern of day and night. Minecraft time is exactly 72 times faster than normal time, resulting in each day being twenty minutes long.

    Again, if you haven't played Minecraft, during the day is essentially when you get all of your building done. You can go outside, collect materials, enjoy the sunshine and be productive. When the sun sets, however, is when things get real. During the night the Minecraft world spawns zombies, spiders, arrow shooting skeletons and "creepers" (zombies that explode when they get too close.

    Due to this cycle of safety and danger, if you want to build anything more than a simple hut you need to have a plan for each day. Daylight comes and goes before you even notice. Good Minecrafters come out of their hut each morning knowing that today they are going to build extra level on their house (or even better, knowing that today they're going to collect enough stone to be able to build that second level tomorrow).


    The importance of Teamwork

    If you want to go solo that's all well and good, but part of the joy of Minecraft is working with your friends to build anything from simple villages to grand creations. Working with others in small groups enables you to create a world within your Minecraft map.

    When working together resources are easier to collect, structures are easier to build, and in the event that a creeper or zombie gets too close at night there is more safety in numbers.


    These core concepts are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you can learn from Minecraft. So next time your kid wants to play Minecraft don't object too quickly. It's not just a silly game, it can actually make your child more productive :)
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  31. Setting S.M.A.R.T goalsThe most popular (and safe) way used for goal setting in the world is the S.M.A.R.T goals technique. There are a number of versions of this technique, but the most common tells us that a well set goal should meet the following criteria:

    It should be:

    • S = Specific;

    • M = Measurable;

    • A = Attainable;

    • R= Realistic; and

    • T = Time based

    One of the issues with the SMART technique is that it plays it a bit safe. All goals should be specific and measurable, but focussing on being attainable and realistic can sometimes hinder setting big ambitious goals, part of the goal may be to achieve something that doesn't seem all that possible at first. But for now lets play it safe and make sure your goals are on the right track, we can look at other methods for those crazy slightly impossible goals later.

    While it seems rigid the SMART goal system does not necessarily have to be followed in order. If you want to look at your measures first and then decide if it is attainable, etc then do it that way. These are your goals and you should plan them in whatever way is easiest and the most motivating for you, just make sure you do complete all of the steps.


    Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what it is you are going to do. ‘Specific is the what, why and how of the model’.

    For example: ‘By February 1st I am going to quit smoking, I’m going to start using patches and help from the quit line because I want to feel better about my body and be around longer for my children”.

    Now that’s specific, and powerful. A good start to a smart goal.


    Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. Usually, the entire goal statement is a measure for the project, but there are usually several smaller measurements built into the goal.

    For example: ‘Next Monday I am going to buy quit patches and on Tuesday I’m going to call the quit line’.

    Empowering stuff


    Goals should be achievable, they should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged but defined well enough so that you can achieve them. At this stage you need to question that you have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to achieve the goal. If you don’t it might be worthwhile making that your new goal.

    If a goal is impossible to achieve you may not even try to accomplish it, until you are a master at challenging yourself to meet your goals make sure you know they are achievable.

    Example: In order to achieve this goal I need to know where to get patches and materials from Quit.


    Goal should be stretching and motivating but should also be realistic.

    Example: I have been able to go weeks without a cigarette in the past, it’s time for me to quit and I know I can do this.


    Goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a sense of urgency, what is the deadline. It should create some tension between the current reality and the vision of the goal. Without the tension the goal is unlikely to produce an outcome.

    Example: ‘I will do this by the 1st of February’
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  32. Trouble sleeping? Go campingThroughout most of human history, humans went to bed shortly after the sun went down and woke up in the morning as it rose. Then along came Thomas Edison and his incandescent light bulb, from that moment everything changed. If you have problems getting to sleep at night or are a miserable person to be around in the morning, blame him.

    Increased use of electrical light, and reduced exposure to natural light, caused modern humans to stray from our natural circadian rhythms or sleep patterns and may be a contributor to poor quality sleep.

    A recent study by the University of Colorado Boulder found that one week of camping outdoors and removing all man-made light may be enough to reset a person’s body clock to its natural sleep rhythms.

    After a week of exposure to only natural light, our internal circadian clocks align with solar time, the study found. In other words, our internal biological night begins at sunset, and ends when we wake just after sunrise.

    “After exposure to natural light, we found the timing of the circadian clock to be approximately two hours earlier and [sleep-promoting hormone] melatonin offset to occur more than 50 minutes prior to wake time, suggesting that if human circadian and sleep timing was in synchrony with the natural light-dark cycle, the circadian low point in brain arousal would move to before the end of the sleep episode, making it easier to awaken in the morning,” the researchers found.

    So next time you wake up groggy and feel like your not getting enough sleep it might be time to plan a week long camping trip and help your body to reset.
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  33. BrainHackr wins a state award in the Australian Web AwardsThere's always been a "News" category here on BrainHackr before, but this is the first time we've ever really needed to use it.

    We're really proud that over the weekend BrainHackr won an Australian Web Award for South Australia. All of the state winners now go on to the national awards later this year.

    The Australian Web Awards showcase outstanding work by Australian web designers and developers. Their purpose is to promote the industry, to champion web standards, to acknowledge excellence and to provide marketing advantage to companies working at the highest level.

    Hopefully we can keep the streak going at the national awards, but we're really happy to have won the state award either way :)
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  34. The wit, wisdom and wellbeing of Winnie the PoohWinnie the Pooh (the silly old bear that turns 90 years old next year) is full of wisdom for children, but sometimes adults need a little wisdom too. Pooh Bear was always so happy and (mostly) carefree, which is the real goal in today's wellbeing focused culture. So here are just five of the many lessons that we can learn from Winnie the Pooh, in order to live happier, healthier lives.





    Do nothing once in a while

    Sure, productivity is important. There are bills to be paid and things to be done. But once those things are done then what do you do? If you're anything like most people I know, you look for the next thing to be done.
    It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.
    Christopher Robin

    Learn to relax and enjoy yourself, and stop feeling guilty about it.

    • Go for a walk. If you work in an office, go for a walk around the block and get some fresh air.

    • Factor wind down time into your routine. Set aside time each day to destress, you'll feel better and be more productive about it.

    • Playtime isn't just for kids. Have some lego or colouring books on hand, they are great for de-stressing and relaxation.






    Have ambition

    Sitting back and waiting for things to happen can be unnerving. Having a plan and a goal that you're aiming for means less stress and less uncertainty.
    You can't always sit in your corner of the forest and wait for people to come to you… you have to go to them sometimes.
    Winnie the Pooh

    It's not always easy to be a leader or a planner, but in the long run it can have major benefits.






    Look for the silver lining

    Never underestimate the benefits of having a positive outlook. Whatever is going on in your life, studies show that looking for the silver lining and having an optimistic attitude can help you get through it.
    "It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
    "So it is."
    "And freezing."
    "Is it?"
    "Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an
    earthquake lately."

    A remarkable example of this is a study conducted by Dr. Dennis Charney, the dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine. In his study, Dr. Starney examined aproximately 750 Vietnam war veterans that were held as prisoners of war for six to eight years, during which time they were tortured and kept in solitary confinement. Unlike other veterans, these ex-POWs did not develop depression or posttraumatic stress disorder. His conclusion? The soldiers kept their optimism throughout their ordeal, as well as their sense of altruism and humour.






    Learn to enjoy the journey

    It's not always the destination that's the important thing. When it comes to what you enjoy doing, it's more often the journey.
    "Well," said Pooh, "what I like best — " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

    Achievements are great, setting goals are good too, but achieving these goals aren't usually what you do every day. Enjoying the journey you take to achieve these goals is the difference between a job and a job you love.






    Learn to be grateful

    In a study conducted by Dr Martin Seligman, a well-respected psychologist, a group of people were asked to practice a mental gratitude exercise every day for one week. Even though the exercise lasted just one week, at the one month follow up, participants were happier and less depressed than they had been at the start, they stayed happier and less depressed at the three and six month follow ups.
    Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.

    Of course there's more to it, but boiled down this exercise by Dr Seligman simply relied on the participants writing a letter to someone and expressing gratitude. So take a step back every now and then, look at the people around you, your friends, your family, and your friends that are your family, and be grateful :) It will make them feel better, and will likely make you feel better too.

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  35. Expanding your realityIn the last article we talked about different ways to expand your view of reality, how to increase your perception of the world and begin to understand things from other peoples points of view. Mastering this ability can help to make you better at persuading, influencing, debating and ultimately being a more effective and efficient individual.

    Assuming you have been trying out some of the mental exercises in the last article, today we will look at how you can begin to make some more longer lasting changes that will help you to think of things from different perspectives more regularly.

    Becoming your own editor

    As you go through your day you take in information and interpret the things around you, creating a sort of story in your mind as to what has happened that day. What you may not realise is that you are part of that story as well. While your conscious brain takes everything in you unconsciously form your own narratives that frame the world and shape your sense of reality.

    Like any story these narratives you create can be edited with a technique called story-editing described by Timothy D. Wilson, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. In story editing you start with an expressive writing exercise, the process is rather simple:

    • Find a quiet place to write

    • Commit to writing about a problem for fifteen minutes a day for three consecutive days.

    Each time you write about a problem or what is causing you stress you reveal more. By understanding it more you can edit the story by looking at it from different perspectives (think along the lines of the alternative views idea from our last article).

    This process can help to interpret yourself differently in the world and provide insight into how the issue you are facing is affecting your decisions, creativity and productivity.

    Expressive writing has many benefits and uses. Although the scientific research surrounding the value of expressive writing is still in the early phases, there are some approaches to writing that have been found to be helpful. For more info and tips about expressive writing click here.

    Change how you present yourself

    In the past we have talked about the importance of selecting clothing to improve decision making (What do Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama and Homer Simpson all have in common) and we know that what we wear influences other people, but further to this it affects our own thinking as well. New research from Northwestern University suggests that you may be influenced by how you present yourself. Researches call this 'enclothed cognition' and theorise that clothes effect not just how you are seen, but also how you see yourself. The research is in its early stages but it is worth trying out an experiment of your own.  Outfit yourself different for a day every now and then and take note of how people perceive you and how you perceive yourself. Does wearing a tie make you feel like more of an adult, does wearing a suit jacket make you feel more confident? Change your perception and change your reality.

    Try on a different personality

    The idea of trying on a new self can be a fun exercise, it might seem a little strange if you do it around people who know you already but random conversations with strangers on a bus or short flight can be reality changing.

    For introverts like myself this can be a really interesting experience. I often wish I was a little more talkative and socially skilled at parties, and its something you can change if you work at it. So for other introverts take an opportunity to be an extrovert for a little while, engage with people and notice the difference in perception you get

    Rearranging your environment to see new things

    Rearranging your home or desk is an interesting way to explore the reality you have formed. After some time we become so familiar with our environment we stop paying attention to it. Try and reset your focus by changing the reality around you, it can be as simple as moving a piece of furniture or swapping places for items on your desk.

    Take different routes and find new areas

    Just like changing your environment try changing the way you get to work. We are creatures of habit and simply expanding your reality by taking a different route to work one day, jogging along a different path  or going about your grocery shopping differently can give a cognitive bump that might help you to look at things from another perspective.

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  36. Change your reality and change your lifeWe all form our own realities and those realities are often far from perfect. As we grow and learn and develop through life we begin to create our own mental map of the world. We accept this map as true but often forget that what we see is only one small piece of the greater map of life. Everyone has their own map, their own reality and ultimately we often chose to only look at a portion of the map, or look at it in a certain way.

    When we open our eyes in the morning we think we're seeing the whole world out there. But what has become clear in the last few centuries is that when you look at the electro magnetic spectrum we are seeing less than 1/10 billionth of the information that’s out there. So we call that visible light, everything else passing through our bodies is invisible to us. Even though we accept the reality that’s presented to us, we're really only seeing a small window of what's really around us. Our brains are conditioned already to ignore what is not directly visible to us. This limits our cognitive abilities because we start to weight our views more importantly than others.

    This is a real problem, take an argument between two people. Each person sees the world as real and thinks the other must be crazy or deliberately trying to destroy things when in fact they're just trying to bring their way of seeing the world into view. Recognising this limited view is the first step. Appreciating that there is so  much you're not seeing and so much that’s a part of other peoples reality.

    Recognising this can help us to recalibrate how we look at our reality and start looking at the world in a new and different way. Unfortunately doing this is not easy and takes some real mental training to train our brains into the habit of looking through other perspectives before making choices. Here are a few techniques to help you start to recalibrate your reality.

    Wait before you respond

    One of the biggest regrets most of us have been through is responding to something when we are angry. When we get into a heated debate or argument we tend to only see things from our perspective, our default reality, and we defend it vigorously.

    To help give yourself time to think take 5 minutes before you respond, not every instance offers this luxury but emails, texts and messages give plenty of time for formulate a response and recalibrate your reality before you say something stupid.

    By simply letting ideas settle will inevitably force your brain to reconsider its own viewpoints, weighing the possible responses and giving you an opportunity to come up with a better response.

    Force yourself to think from alternate points of view

    One of the hardest things for us to do, and an excellent skill to master is the ability to think of things from another person's point of view.

    When you get frustrated or annoyed at a situation or another person think about why you would do what they're doing.

    For example, when someone cuts you off in traffic it's easy to judge the other person by your own standards and get frustrated at them. Try to think about why that person has cut you off, imagine why or even when you have done the same thing. Putting yourself in that mindset can change your view of a situation.

    In my early days working as a covert loss prevention officer, it was my job to identify potential shoplifters and prevent losses to the business. To be a better operative we used to play games, trying to put ourselves in a persons shoes and understand why they are shopping for the product they are, why they might dress the way they do, and ultimately why they may steal from the store.

    This type of game you can play yourself day to day and will help you to expand your brains ability to look at things from another perspective. Don't judge the lady in the shop who smacks her child, or the man who gets aggressive toward the vending machine. Put yourself in their shoes and try and understand why they may be acting that way. Doing this regularly disrupts your default setting and makes you more conscious of the world around you.

    Write out your day from another point of view

    One way to look at things from another perspective is to write about it in third person. If there is something you have done or said try writing about it in the third person. Rather than immersing ourselves in the situation writing in third person allows us to be as objective as possible. Rather than being the story you read the story and can begin to interpret it a different way.

    These methods can help you to begin looking at the world differently, in our next article we will give you a few more techniques you can use to keep expanding your map of the world and adjusting your reality where necessary.
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  37. How many shelves are there?How many shelves do you see? Trace along them to try and count

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  38. Engage emotions to deliver a great presentationAll great movies and TV episodes engage their viewers emotions, taking them on a journey and making them feel part of the story as it plays out.

    A presentation is exactly the same in a way, so why not take some of these lessons from Hollywood story writers to improve your next presentation.

    Take people though a series of emotions, rather than just presenting the facts.

    Emotions are predictable, we all follow patterns so the method is already available to us. Lets say the purpose of the presentation being delivered is to introduce participants to a new problem and to get their buy in to taking action.

    • Fearful: Draw their attention to a problem

    • Relief: There is a solution to the problem

    • Trust: They believe that you are credible

    • Convinced: They are ready to take action

    Or another path

    • Amazement: Draw their attention to something they didn't know

    • Curiosity: Help them see why your idea is interesting

    • Inspired: They see why your idea is revolutionary

    • Activated: They now really want to be a part of it.

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  39. Forgive and forget - why is it so hard?You have probably heard the old saying to 'forgive and forget'. Its not easy forgetting a wrong someone has done to you, but forgiveness may be related to it than we have previously thought.

    A recent study from researchers at the University of St Andrews in Scotland involved participants going through a process of reading 40 hypothetical scenarios. The wrongdoings in the scenarios were things like cheating, slander and theft. After they were asked if they would forgive the action if they were in fact the victim. About two weeks later the participants went through a similar process, but this time the procedure was designed to make them forget the information. The participants were presented with the same scenarios as before, now with a cue word written in either green or red. They were then asked to remember the scenarios that had a green cue word and forget the ones with a red cue word.

    The researchers found the participants did not forget the scenarios they had not forgiven. During the second session participants forgot more scenarios after they had already forgiven them and 'let them go'.

    This research is only in its early stages and within a university setting but starts to identify that the relationship between forgiveness and forgetting is bi directional.

    So if you have been trying to forget a wrong that someone has done to you and you can't seem to get the thought out of your head you need to ask yourself have you forgiven them yet? If you haven't maybe it's time.

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  40. Are the dots movingWhen you look at the dots do they seem to move around the image?

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  41. Stop cynicism before it stops you

    "Cynicism is an attitude or state of mind characterized by a general distrust of others' motives believing that humans are selfish by nature, ruled by emotion, and heavily influenced by the same primitive instincts that helped humans survive in the wild before agriculture and civilization became established"

    Cynicism can be healthy and needed, it becomes a problem when people before overly cynical. They distrust everything new they see or hear, they're intolerant to new ideas, and they're pessimistic about everything. They're not sceptics, that’s a positive trait. They're the downers of the group whose self-righteousness tends to bring everyone else down too.

    Cynicism is part of a defensive posture that we take to protect ourselves, its typically triggered when we feel hurt or angry at something. Instead of dealing with those emotions directly we allow them to skew our outlook. Cynicism tends to spread, it starts with one thing and may slowly start to change over views towards everything.

    Our brains are hard wired to pay attention to negative experiences, the help protect us from them in the future. The problem is the more negativity we see the more likely we are to share that with others and overtime it skews our view. In severe cases it can cause someone to hate on pretty much everything without giving it much thought.

    So what can you do to prevent yourself becoming cynical?

    The first step involves acknowledging that you have a problem. Without acknowledging the thought process it will be difficult to change it. Over the next couple of weeks try to catch yourself when you take a negative stance, make note of it and think about it.

    The next step requires you to look around at your friends, family and relationships and audit those around you for negative influences. Cynicism breeds more cynicism. How many friends do you have online who flood your feed with negative comments, spending the bulk of their time complaining about things, whining about trivial mishaps and not generating any positivity. You do not need this influence, remove yourself from notifications from these people, or remove them all together if you don't need them in your life.

    Step 3 involves opening your mind, cynicism can make us close minded and quick to respond negatively. When you are presented with something and have the impulse to respond negatively, or not at all, take 5 minutes - give the thought some time before you respond. Ask questions and explore.

    Think about this in the context of an online argument with someone, a negative situation where you are likely to also respond negatively. Rather than firing away responses to everything that is said take 5 minutes, 'think' don’t react. Remember there is a difference between asking questions and pushing back as well. Pushing back means you think you already know, asking questions means you want to know. Ask more questions.

    Now remember cynicism isn't all bad. Looking at things critically is an important part of life, removing emotional attachment and looking at something based on its merits can be a positive thing. Cynicism can serve as an emotional coat of armour. Like most things in life it's about balance. When you find yourself being cynical about everything it might be time to take a closer look at how you're interacting with the world.

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  42. Positive self-affirmation could backfire on people with low self-esteemPositive self-affirmations like "I am a successful person" and "I have the power" are a foundation of many self-help models. Some people do have a level of success using mantras, the idea is simple, repeating these mantras to oneself over and over will help move a person towards these states.

    Although these statements don't work for everyone and, for some they may even backfire. A study conducted at the University of Waterloo found that repeating self-affirmation statements like "I'm a lovable person" boosted self-esteem in some subjects. However, in subjects with already low self-esteem, they found that repeating the mantra only made the situation worse. This probably happens because the mind is not that easily tricked. When a person with low self-esteem tries to tell themselves that they are a lovable person, however true it may be they experience more contradictory thoughts, which end up making them feel worse.

    “Injunctions to ‘‘think positively’’ are pervasive in North America.

    Self-help books, television shows, and loved ones advise thinking positively when one faces a challenge or is unhappy.

    Yet the present results suggest that for certain people, positive self-statements may be not only ineffective, but actually detrimental.” (Wood et al., 2009).

    Those who already have high self-esteem did seem to feel better during the study, it seems that they believed the statement.

    Jason Moser, the study’s lead author explains:
    “The worriers actually showed a paradoxical backfiring effect in their brains when asked to decrease their negative emotions.

    This suggests they have a really hard time putting a positive spin on difficult situations and actually make their negative emotions worse even when they are asked to think positively.”

    Rather than trying to put a positive spin on a problem it can be more effective to think on it from a different perspective. Practicing self-acceptance and self-compassion can also be more effective.
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  43. Three leadership lessons derived from The West WingSometimes inspiration and mentors are hard to find, and sometimes you find them in the most unlikely of places. The West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin, ran on TV for 7 seasons between 1999 and 2006, and in that time gave us innumerable lessons on leadership, communication, and generally how to be awesome.

    Lessons can be learned from anywhere when you are open to them. I thank Aaron Sorkin for creating the world of The West Wing, and giving me a new place to learn.

    It's populated by people who, by and large, have terrific communication skills. Every day is an extraordinary day. For me, it was just a great area for storytelling.
    Aaron Sorkin

    Here are just some of the lessons I learned from The West Wing.

    Learn to listen

    In The West Wing Universe, Big Block of Cheese Day is the day where those who don't always have the chance to be heard get to have their say. The Chief of Staff books appointments for all of the senior staff with a wide array of oddballs and fringe organisations. While the specific ideas or proposals these people present are always way out there and completely impractical, the senior staff always come out of the meetings with an altered point of view, and knowledge of an issue or cause they hadn't previously known of.

    Lesson learned: Leaders who listen are better able to create trustworthy relationships and increase the chances of success. You know the leaders who have their employees’ and customers' best interests at heart, because they truly listen to them.

    Take the high road

    In the very first episode of The West Wing, and numerous times in subsequent seasons, the staff of the West Wing put their foot in it with the press. In the pilot episode Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman is under attack during a live interview, and after taking quite a few personal hits he strikes out and makes a smart aleck hit of his own, to his immediate regret. The fallout is immediate and ongoing, as Josh is hit from all sides on his public manner and temper.

    Lesson learned: When a leader chooses to take the high road in an argument, they set their own ego aside to do what is right for the organisation and the team. Taking the high road affects your leadership by enhancing your credibility and showing you are a role model for others.

    The power of a team

    President Bartlet is a is a Nobel laureate, has a PHD and Masters in economics, an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters, and speaks 4 languages. I'm sure someone that qualified probably things they can do anything, but when it comes down to it he is nothing without the team around him. President Bartlet regularly relies on his team to give him the information he needs, to make the decisions he needs to make.

    Lesson learned: How often do you try to be the expert in all things, rather than simply asking someone more knowledgable? A leader doesn't have to be all knowing, knowing when it's time to turn to someone with more expertise is a part of leadership.
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  44. Are the red lines straightAre the red lines straight or do they bend

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  45. Feeling tired? Here are 6 tips for a better night's sleepDo you find that you wake up feeling exhausted or groggy? Do you experience sleepless nights, even when going to bed early? According to some recent studies, the answer to this problem might be the myriad of devices we have lying around the bedroom.

    During the two-week inpatient study, twelve participants read LE-e-Books on an iPad for four hours before bedtime each night for five consecutive nights. This was repeated with printed books. The order was randomized with some reading the iPad first and others reading the printed book first.

    Participants reading on the iPad took longer to fall asleep, were less sleepy in the evening, and spent less time in REM sleep. Participants who read from the iPad were less sleepy before bedtime, but sleepier and less alert the following morning after eight hours of sleep.


    Although iPads were used in this study, the researchers also measured other eReaders, laptops, cell phones, LED monitors, and other electronic devices, all emitting blue light. These studies suggested that the closer to bedtime you use your phone or tablet, the harder it is to get a good night's sleep.

    So what can you do about it? Here are 6 tips to help you get a better night's sleep.





    Read paper books instead of digital books

    We know that reading books for pleasure can have a positive effect on your wellbeing, and we don't want to squash that, but before bed try sticking to paper books rather than reading from an iPad or other light emitting device. Keep in mind that we're talking about light emitting devices such as iPads, Galaxy Notes, etc. E-ink devices like the Amazon Kindle don't emit light and are not as much of a problem.






    Turn your bedroom into a technology-free zone

    Find the temptation to check the time or skim Facebook too great when your phone is right next to your bed? Make your bedroom a technology free zone. Get yourself an old school alarm clock and leave the devices on the dining table.






    Take a late night break from email and social media

    Staying connected to the outside world by checking work emails or Facebook can actually stop you from relaxing and stress you out more. Psychologists suggest that time away from the internet can be a great way to decompress if you feel you need it.






    Working late? Remove the blue tint from your laptop

    If you do find that you feel the need to keep working on your laptop, try using software that changes the tint of your screen to remove that harsh blue glow. For years I have used a program called f.lux that automatically transitions the tint of my screen as day turns to night.
    During the day, computer screens look good—they're designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn't be looking at the sun.






    Disconnect yourself 30-60 minutes before bed

    Avoid using any of the devices that emit blue light, such as iPads, mobile phones, laptops, etc for a set period before you try to sleep.






    Establish a routine and stick to it

    Establishing a set night time routine can help to train your body to recognise when it is time to go to sleep.






    Dim the lights as the night gets later

    Bright lighting in your house also alerts your body. Use dimmers if you have them, or turn off brighter lights a while before going to bed. Dimming your lights will also help make you more comfortable dimming your screen.


    These are our tips for a better night's sleep away from those pesky devices. Do you have anything specific that works for you in shutting off and going to sleep? Let us know below.

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  46. If you touch it you want it morePersuasive people all know that touch creates a strong connection. Think about the salesman or politician that is quick to pat you on the back or shake your hand, the waitress that knows a touch on your arm gets a bigger tip. Even better is if they are selling a physical product, this is why car salesmen are so eager to get you to test drive their vehicles. A common phrase used by such salesmen is 'the feel of the wheel will seal the deal'.

    Not only are people more likely to buy something they've touched, but they're actually willing to pay more. By touching the product humans form a connection with it, and it can even create a false sense of ownership.

    How an object feels in our hands can greatly influence our buying decisions. One study conducted showed that water in a firm cup was found to taste better than water in a flimsy cup, regardless of the fact that it was the same water.

    So the next time you are running a meeting, conducting a training session or trying to influence someone think about how you can use touch to influence. Hand out a report, bring along a sample of the product, anything to help them associate themselves with what you are trying to achieve.

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  47. Can you catch the wheel movingStare at the centre of the wheel and then look away, can you catch the wheel moving?

    The wheel appears to move even though in reality it is completely stationary. This visual illusion can be so strong that after looking at it for a few moments many people begin to feel nauseous.

    Notice that the wheel only seems to move while in your peripheral vision, when you look directly at the wheel you can't 'catch' it moving.

    The wheel is made up of four coloured elements: black, purple, white and green - in that order. The critical feature for making the wheel rotate is the difference in the levels of luminance (light) between each of the elements. This means the illusion can work when printed in black and white as well.

    What’s happening in your brain?

    For many years scientists have known we have specific cells in our brains that fire when we look at something moving in a particular direction. These cells are called direction-selective neurons. When scientists examined this illusion they found something quite remarkable.

    Direction-selective neurons begin firing when looking at this illusion. This is particularly exciting because up until now, scientists thought this type of brain neuron could only be activated by seeing something that was really moving (either on-screen or in the real world).

    Vision scientists think the cells that detect motion actually interpret the rollers as if they were really moving. There is still so much unknown about the brain and visual illusions give us a new way to look at things.
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  48. Embrace your constraints with Dr SeussMany people say that a blank canvas represents limitless possibilities, but there are those that say that that might not be the best thing for you. It is not actually boundary-less freedom that inspires productivity and new ideas, but well established and clear limitations. Want proof? One of the best examples of this phenomenon is the modern work of art, Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham.

    I do not like them in a house.
    I do not like them with a mouse.
    I do not like them here or there.
    I do not like them anywhere.
    I do not like green eggs and ham.
    I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

    Green Eggs and Ham, Dr.Seuss

    In 1960, Theo Geisel (A.K.A. Dr. Seuss) accepted a bet. He was challenged by the founder of  Random House Publishing to write an entertaining children's book using no more than 50 different words. Most people would balk at this idea, but Theo took the bet and used the constraints of the challenge to write one of the best selling children's books in history.

    What can we learn from this story?

    Well the main takeaway is that constraints are not the enemy.

    While constraints might seem like the last thing you would want when trying to be creative, looked at a different way they can be quite beneficial. What constraints and limitations do is take away some of the choices we have, creating a framework within which to do the best work we can.

    So how can you use this?

    Not all constraints have to be forced upon you. Set your own constraints to excel in your own projects.

    Create your own constraints and limitations to help you excel in your project.

    Oh, and in case you are curious, the 50 words included in Green Eggs and Ham are:
    a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you
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  49. Track your activities to increase your productivityWhether it's tracking your food or tracking your time, keeping a close eye on your activities can help you streamline and improve everything you do. You want an example? Here's how tracking activities can help you lose weight, and keep reading to find out how you can use the same concept to help increase your productivity.

    How tracking activities helps you lose weight

    In 2008 the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study of over 1,600 overweight or obese U.S. adults. While the participants lost an average of 5.9 kilograms (13 pounds), the AJPM found that the most powerful predictor of weight loss was how many days each week people were keeping track of their food intake.
    Those who kept food records six days a week -- jotting down everything they ate and drank on those days -- lost about twice as much weight as those who kept food records one day a week or less

    Exactly the same concept that helped these people lose weight can help you work more efficiently.

    Benefits for tracking your time

    Keeping track of your time helps you become more productive, and helps to reduce the risk of multitasking. As soon as you start accounting for your time, you'll inevitably become more aware of how you're spending it. The simple process of tracking the time you spend on things during your day, including all time wasters like social media, email, water-cooler conversation breaks, will dramatically increase your productivity.

    So how do you do it?

    The goal is to keep track of how long you spend on each particular task during your day. As a freelancer I use a great free tool called Toggl to track my time. This includes everything from business related activities like development work, admin and social marketing through to domestic duties like the laundry. The very knowledge that my goings on are being timed is motivation enough to keep myself working efficiently. Doing this every day means at the end of the day I can see exactly how long I was productive for, and keep on top of my tendency to procrastinate.

    Click here to read more about how one blogger and entrepreneur increased his productivity by 238 percent by tracking his time with Toggl.
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  50. Are the shapes the same size or differentAre the shapes the same size or different?

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  51. Take charge of your educationEducation helps us to understand the world that we all live in. Whether it be formal education or life lessons, is what we all need to be able to answer the who, what, why, where and how questions of our world. Education helps us to become leaders in our own lives and role models to others.

    When we speak about the importance of education we don't always mean formal schooling. Thomas Edison was responsible to many inventions that influence the way we live life today, and yet he never attended any technical school, college or university.

    The young Thomas Edison only went to school for a few months. His teachers thought he was very slow, and his mother resorted to teaching him at home. Young Thomas then taught himself by reading constantly and try experiments in the basement.

    Education breeds confidence.
    Confidence breeds hope.
    Hope breeds peace.


    Thomas Edison is proof that even without formal schooling, we are what we make ourselves to be. Even more so in modern times formal schooling is not the only answer. Online learning, free courses, community programs, you can take charge of your education.
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  52. Are the red lines straight?Are the red lines straight or do they bend

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  53. How reading can affect your wellbeingDo you read books? If you are suffering from depression or a sense of low wellbeing then it might be a good idea to start.

    Did you know that, according to a recent survey conducted in the UK, adults who read for as little as 20 minutes a week are 20% more likely to feel satisfied with their lives. The survey and previous research shows that many people that read for pleasure are less likely to report feelings of depression, are more likely to have good self esteem and have a stronger sense of connectedness with their community.


    According to the survey, reading books is a go-to outlet for those experiencing anxiety or a low mood. Readers were found to be 36% more likely to pick up a book than talk to a friend when they want to break out of a low mood. While non-readers may cringe at the thought of their friend curling up with a book rather than talking when upset, 1 in 5 readers reported that reading stopped them from feeling lonely.

    Those aren't the only revelations that came out of the survey. Other such outcomes includes:

    • 43% of readers said reading helped them get a better night’s sleep

    • Readers reported higher levels of creativity (48%) than non-readers (38%)

    • Regular readers reported 57% greater cultural awareness and 21% more general knowledge

    • Readers were found to be 27% better able to make time for their friends

    • Readers were found to be 10% more capable of planning and prioritising

    Using books to help health and wellbeing is not a new idea. Following the first and second world wars books were used to help soldiers that were recovering from physical and emotional trauma.

    According to associate professor Vijaya Manicavasagar, Director of Psychological Services and Director of the Psychology Clinic at the Black Dog Institute, prescribing reading in mild cases of depression is a terrific idea "if it is part of a concerted effort to lift someone's mood."

    Professor Manicavasagar describes some of the potential benefits of reading below.
    [Reading literature can give] a new perspective on life and problems that you might be encountering so you get to see how other people might have dealt with a similar problem or coped with a particular situation so it exposes you to new ways of thinking, a bit like cognitive therapy. As well as pure escapism, the experience of identifying with a character who comes through adversity may also build self-confidence.

    Vijaya Manicavasagar

    We know there are avid readers readers out there, and given the nature of our posts likely some experiencing depression and trying to help their mental wellbeing. What do you think about using books to help relieve stress and reduce depression?
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  54. The letter E or a bunch of linesWhat do you see when you look at this image? Do you see a bunch of lines, or the letter E

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  55. Improve your proof reading ability by changing fontProof reading your own work is hard, it's your own words and makes it more difficult to spot the errors. Particularly after you have read it over and over.

    One way to improve your proof reading ability is to change to an unfamiliar font. This can make you see your words in a different way and help you to pick up on errors you may have skimmed past many times.

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  56. Are the red lines equal in heightAre the red lines equal in height

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  57. Music affects what and how much you drinkIn past posts we have talked about how music can be used to influence the speed you do things at (click here for more on this) so it should be no surprise that music can be used to affect how much you drink, but did you know it also can affect what you drink?

    If you think about this it also should come as no surprise. Bars and nightclubs often play fast music to increase alcohol based profit. Usually music is pumped up to ear splitting level making conversation impossible, and lights are kept dim because we feel uncomfortable talking to someone we can't see clearly. Bars want you to drink, not talk so they try their hardest to make sure your interactions remain at the basic head nodding.

    More upscale restaurants, prefer slow, relaxing music which, believe it or not can also make you drink more.

    The tempo of music is linked to your bodys arousal level, or the 'speed' at which your nervous system operates. Fast music heightens arousal so patrons will do everything more quickly, including eating and drinking. On the other hand, slower music means you will eat and drink at a more leisurely pace, you might stay to chat longer and the more time that passes the more likely you are to buy a drink every time the waiter comes around to ask.

    For a restaurant that charges upward of $70 a bottle of wine it quickly makes up for any lost traffic as you and your friends consume bottle after bottle as the night wears on.

    Some restaurants even go as far as purchasing specially selected songs designed by 'sound branding' companies to achieve the tempo or atmosphere the restaurant is trying to achieve.

    For more information about how personalised music works and how often it is used check out this great article from the New Yorker.

    So before you hit the bars and restaurants this New Year's eve decide what kind of night you want to have beforehand and pick where you spend your time based on the music they are playing. Because once your inside you are in the venues control.


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  58. What do Mark Zuckerberg, President Barack Obama and Homer Simpson all have in common?What do Mark Zuckerberg, President Barack Obama and Homer Simpson all have in common?

    They've all work the same outfit pretty much every day.

    You may have noticed any time you see President Obama he usually wears a blue or grey suit (one time he did wear a tan suit and the internet nearly blew up). But why?

    In an interview with Vanity Fair writer Michael Lewis, Obama shared his reasons:

    "You'll see I only wear grey or blue suits", "I'm trying to pare down decisions. I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make."

    Two college professors who studied decision making, Kathleen Vohs and Barry Schwartz have found that a person has a limited amount of brain power in a day, so the more decisions they have to make, the weaker their decision making process becomes.

    The mere act of thinking about whether you prefer A or B tires you out.

    You may also recall Steve Jobs, customary black turtleneck, blue jeans and white shoes. This wasn't a decision limiter, for Jobs it was all about creating himself as a brand. Can you even think what Steve Jobs looks like without his black turtleneck? Or Zuckerberg without his Gray t-shirt.
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  59. How many legs are thereHow many legs does the shape have, try and trace each of them. How many do you see?

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  60. Put a bad day into perspective by asking yourself three questionsIt's just part of life that from time to time you may have a bad day. Often there is not a lot you can do, but one thing that might help is to get a little perspective. To do this ask yourself these three questions:

    •  Will this day matter two years from now?

    • Who does today actually impact on?

    • What is one small practical step that I can take to turn this day around?

    The aim of these questions is to help you realise that while you may be having a bad day it's not necessarily a disaster. Sometimes just a little perspective and positive thinking can help get a bad day back on track, or at least make it bearable.
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  61. Stay flexible when trying to break a habitMost of us have had a habit we have tried to break, or a new diet we have tried to start. The first time you break your commitment you may feel as if you've failed.

    Two days into your shake diet you might decide to have two pieces of chocolate, and all you can do after is feel guilty.

    This feeling isn't helping you to break your habit. Stay flexible and get back on track. Instead of seeing this as a failure, acknowledge that habit changes aren't absolute and slipping up isn't a failure, its just another step on your journey to breaking your habit.

    Think about that, while you may slip up from time to time aren't you moving forward in general.

    We all start with an ideal vision of change the change will look like, how excited we will be when we get there, etc. The problem, its all in our heads and change isn't always that pretty.

    You can hold onto the dream, it can be great motivator, but embrace the reality of change as well. Be open to whatever happens, be curious. You can't expect perfection, and every time you make a mistake you will learn from it and reinforce the habit for future.

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  62. Are the centre lines all the same lengthAre each of the centre lines the same length? Or different?

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  63. Sometimes trying to make or break a habit head on isn't the best wayFirst of all let's clear something up. Without a true desire to change it will be near impossible to break a habit.

    If your truly ready to break a habit, read on.

    You have probably heard that it takes 28 days to remove/develop a habit, or maybe 21, or 18 depending on who you ask. While having a specific number sounds scientific it's not entirely correct. In fact it's likely the 21 days idea came from a plastic surgeon in the 60's who wrote that it takes an average of 21 days for an amputee to adjust to the loss of a limb.

    The 28 day rule tends to appeal because it makes habit change sound plausibly difficult enough, but basically easy. While going 'cold turkey' may work for some it generally doesn't work for the masses. Breaking habits is hard, our brains are designed to take shortcuts and make behaviours automatic so we don't need to think about them.

    Countless habit change programs ignore the fact that habits are responses to needs. If you decide to change your diet and eat better, cutting out the burgers and fries and replacing them with carrots and cauliflower you may feel a bit better, but what did the burgers and fries do that carrots and cauliflower can not? Changes are you probably felt happy, maybe relaxed or comforted eating those foods.

    So you don't really need to cut out the burgers and fries, you need to find an alternative way to feel happy, relaxed and comfortable. By doing this the burgers and fries wouldn't be required anymore.

    "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken"

    Don't attack the habit head on, try and go it from another angle.
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  64. Raise your eyebrows to be more creativeThere are two types of attention, perceptual attention, which is given to your physical experiences, and conceptual attention, which is allotted to your mental processes. The two are linked, if one slows down so does the other. Likewise if you increase your spectrum of perceptual attention, by opening your eyes really wide for example, you should be able to kick start your brain into broadening its scope as well.

    This can be really useful when you need to get creative and look at a problem innovatively.

    A study published in the Creativity Research Journal tested this theory by using two groups, one was asked to raise their eyebrows while the other was told to keep their brows furrowed. The groups were then asked to caption an image of a dog lying on a bed with a bagel in its mouth.

    The group with raised eyebrows suggested clever and creative captions such as 'Betty the Beagle Beds a Bagel', while the opposite group came up with lazy captions like 'Dog who breaks rules'.

    The idea behind this is that the group whose members had their eyebrows raised were receiving a greater amount of perceptual attention that they were subsequently able to translate into a greater amount of conceptual attention, increasing their non-linear thinking.

    So next time you need to be more creative, open and non-linear in your thinking try raising your eyebrows first.

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  65. Which direction do the circles move inWhen you look at the circles you may notice them moving in one direction, which way do the circles move?

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  66. Left or rightWhen you look at the cylinder are you drawn to look through it from the left side or the right?

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  67. Doodling can be a good thingFrowned upon in meetings the common doodle has long been condemned and associated with inattentiveness. Often this is not the case and in 2009 The University of Plymouth conducted a study to find out whether drawing hinders or improves attention to a primary task.

    Forty participants were tested and the results concluded that doodling aids concentration by reducing an individual's capacity to daydream whether in the workplace or the classroom. The doodlers in the study retained about 29% more information than non-doodlers.

    Simple visual language has been part of human history since the caveman days 30,000 years ago. By drawing shapes, images and letters we invite our minds to slow down and focus on that experience. Doodling provides the ability  to free our minds from traditional, linear and linguistic thinking and more into a more organic thinking space.

    Do if you have been a doodler for years, it may actually be a good thing helping you learn and process information better. If you haven't been much of a doodler it might be time to pick up a pen and a blank piece of paper and see what happens.

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  68. Sports drinks work (and you don't even have to drink them)Sports drinks are big business. Gatorade alone makes well over a billion dollars a year. Many athletes swear by them for their performance enhancing abilities, and replacing all of the lost nutrients during exercise.

    It turns out however that all the electrolyte rehydration technology is nothing compared to the simple pleasure of having a bunch of sugar in your mouth.

    A study conducted  by the University of Birmingham School of Sport and Exercise Sciences found that one of the key reasons sports drinks work is because they activate the pleasure centre of your brain. So how can you use this to hack your brain?

    You don't need to actually consume the drink to get some of the positive benefits, just swishing it around in your mouth and spitting it out has the same effect.

    The carbohydrates in the drink stimulate receptors in your mouth that then send positive signals to the brain. In turn the brain activates the pleasure centre and also charges up the movement centres, resulting in a higher level of performance.

    So if you're looking for a performance boost just try swishing a sports drink in your mouth every now and then. But if you have just had a gruelling work out swallow it down to replenish the nutrients you have used up.

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  69. Dots and starsStare at the black dot and the stars will begin to dissapear

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  70. Filling your workspace with personal stuff makes you more productiveHow many of you have personal stuff in your office and around your desk?

    Having control over one small, utterly inconsequential aspect of our lives improves our productivity by up to 32 percent.

    Studies by the University of Exeter's School of Psychology have revealed the potential for remarkable improvements in worker attitude, just by being allowed to personalise office space.

    The research spanned across three different studies, one involving more than 2,000 workers in a series of studies. Two surveys of workers attitudes were carried out via online questionnaires, as well as two experiments which examined workers efficiency when carrying out tasks under different conditions.

    The results consistently showed that the more control people had over their workspace, the happier and more motivated they are in their jobs.They felt physically more comfortable at work, identified more with their employers, and felt more positive about their jobs in general.

    So if you manage an office let your workers make their space their own. And if you currently sit in a very clinical workspace it might be time to add a personal touch to it.

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  71. Chewing gum kick starts your brainGranted, chewing gum is generally rude and unprofessional, but it turns out that it also jump starts your brain for around 20 minutes or so. This short lived effect boosts your cognitive abilities and allows you to handle stress and distraction far better.

    Research published in the journal Brain and Cognition by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan suggests as many as eight areas of the brain are affected by the simple act of chewing. One theory to explain the greater performance is that chewing increases arousal and leads to  temporary improvements in blood flow to the brain.

    Because it’s the act of chewing and not the gum itself, it doesn’t matter what gum it is, sugar free is fine. And the act of chewing does not impair your ability to pay attention as it is controlled by your subconscious brain, allowing you to devote your conscious abilities to the task at hand.

    Studies have also found gum to be an effective anxiety buster, though the reasons why are unclear. A 2009 study found that under laboratory conditions chewing gum resulted in reduced cortisol levels, also frequently known as the 'stress hormone', and resulted in an overall reduction in anxiety.

    So how can you use this? When you're in the car heading to the next meeting that you really can't be bothered with, or about to meet with someone who stresses you out, or really need to concentrate to kick off a task, or are about to sit down for a test or exam try chewing some gum for a little while before and see what impact it has for you.

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  72. Are you an in-time or observe-time personBefore reading on we recommend you read the following post and complete the activity at the bottom of the post to work out where your own timeline sits.

    Become healthier and richer by living in the present

    People generally code time spatially (in space) for many people different times are represented in some kind of sequence. We tend to think about older memories being further away, and recent ones closer.

    Within our brains we all have a strategy for dealing with and representing time. Each of us fits broadly into one processing style, although this can be modified as you progress through life, and some people are one style at home and the other at work.

    A 'timeline' is a way of representing this sequence of memories and generally is either 'in-time' or 'observe-time'.

    [caption id="attachment_518" align="aligncenter" width="89"]intime A person who is in time[/caption]

    An 'in-time' person is great at being present in the moment but struggles to predict how long things will take. They have a limited ability to detach from current time and plan into the future, this often makes them late for deadlines, actions or events. If you were to ask them to think of the past it is usually behind them physically. An in-time person will often talk about 'looking back' in time. A future event on the other hand is usually in front. If they were to draw a link between past and future (a time line) it almost always passes through them - hence the term 'in-time'.

    [caption id="attachment_519" align="aligncenter" width="300"]observe-time A person who is in observe time[/caption]

    Observe-time people, on the other hand, often have their past on one side and their future on the other. Or, both may be all out in front somewhere. Very rarely does their time-line pass through them. These people are able to be more objective about time, able to detach, to see themselves outside of events they are involved in. They rarely run late, and seem to be effortlessly punctual.

    Because opposites often attract, couple are frequently one of each style. Even in close working situations you regularly find the same mix.

    Now that you know this what does it mean? If you are in 'observe-time' that's a good place to be. If you are in 'in-time' and your regularly finding yourself late for meetings and events you may want to shift towards 'observe-time'. One of the best ways to do this is to hack your timeline and simply have a play with moving it around, always remember where it started so you can put it back if it's not comfortable for you though.

    1. Think about where you tend to see the now, like a real time video recording. If its right in front of you try thinking about moving it away a little - putting it out in front of you at arms reach. Almost a step back looking at time as it plays out in front of you.

    2. Now find where you keep your past memories. If its behind you think about what it would be like if you moved them around to your left, maybe just outside of the corner of your eye. Give it a try and see how it feels.

    3. Next take your future, if it is way off in the distance try bringing it in a bit closer, maybe off to the right.

    Your subconscious brain is responsible for storage in your mind and this hack starts to modify where those memories go. By giving conscious direction to your subconscious you can begin to shift how your mind works. After all your map of time (where you said your memories were earlier) is just a map of what is going on inside your head.

    If you want to explore this technique further find a good neuro-linguistic practitioner, or look into the 'Time Line Therapy' program by Tad James which has a similar approach to the above but is more involved.
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  73. Become healthier and richer by living in the presentLiving in the present help you to make better health and financial decisions. This is a common statement within mindfulness training, but how and why does it work.

    Remember back to early English lessons, where you learnt about the three tenses: past, present and future.

    For example take these sentences:

    • 'Mary will talk to her boss about a promotion' - Future tense

    • 'Mary is talking to her boss about a promotion' - Present tense

    • 'Mary did talk with her boss about a promotion' - Past tense

    As English speakers we place everything within one of the tenses, would it surprise you to learn that there are languages that don’t have a future tense, or just don't use it.

    In Mandarin, its fine to say something like 'Mary boss promotion', and nobody would be too concerned that you didn’t specify a time.

    One might wonder how speakers of such languages get anything done without attaching time to everything. But no, they are completely fine and it even turns out that speakers of these tenseless languages actually make far better decisions than tense-language speakers.

    The Yale Business School analysed data from 76 countries focusing on things like exercise habits, smoking, money and general health. The result was that culture in which most people speak languages without a future tense make better health and financial decisions overall.

    In fact they found that speaking a tensed language like English made people 30% less likely to save money.

    It is thought that speakers of languages without tense see their lives as less of a timeline and more of a whole. Therefore they are automatically mindful of how their decisions will affect their future.

    Take a moment now to get a sense of your own timeline and where your past, present and future sit.

    If you think about something that occurred in the past, a memory of something that happened in the near past. Get a sense of that memory and think about where that memory sits. If you could reach out and touch it where around your body would you put that memory?

    Now think about the present, if you think about what is happening to you right now - like a movie playing out where do you get a sense of around your body that movie is playing. Almost like a real time video recording.

    And lastly when you think about the future, where do you get a sense of that playing out around your body?

    To find out what this exercise says about you check out our 'in time vs observe time article'.
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  74. Use music to collapse timeThink about the last time you were on hold on the telephone, standing in a lift or shopping in a store. What do these three things have in common?


    Music is placed onto the hold message, playing in the lift and piped into stores while you shop to collapse time and make it feel like time is passing more quickly.

    When your brain is steadily distracted your consciousness will be less likely to notice things around you in detail. Our brains are limited to taking in around 7-8 inputs at a time, smell, sight, hearing are all inputs.

    Music can also expand perceived time as well, when listening to music and concentrating it can be easy to overestimate the amount of time that has passed. The theory is that the mind jumps back and forward between listening to the music and concentrating therefore creating more events in the brain, when you think back it seems like there are more events and feels like the time was quite long.

    Experiments have also found time expands when we are listening to songs that we don't like. When we hear the opening chords of a song our brain remembers the whole thing and skips ahead, whether we like it or now it just feels like you have had to sit through 5 minutes when you have only heard the first few seconds.

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  75. Can you beat the Stroop Test?This is one test you have probably seen floating around on the Internet before, but weren't really sure how it worked.

    What do you do?

    Speak aloud the colour of the words in the graphic. Don't read the words themselves, just speak the colour of the word. For example if the word "green" appears in a red colour, then say "red". Run through the list relatively quickly, you'll find the faster you go the more difficult it will be.

    What is the Stroop Test?

    This test was designed by J. Ridley Stroop in the 1930s and is used in neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tions to mea­sure men­tal vital­ity and flex­i­bil­ity. Per­form­ing well in the Stroop Test requires strong attention skills and a high self-regulation capability.

    Among other things, researchers use the Stroop Test during brain imaging studies to investigate what regions of the brain are involved in planning, decision-making, and the ability to multi-task.
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  76. Say "I don't" instead of "I can't" to resist temptationThe language we use to describe our choices serves as a feedback mechanism that either enhances or impedes our goal-directed behaviour. Simply how you phrase your goal might impact on whether you complete it.

    A 2012 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research analysed 120 students and their ability to resist eating chocolate. Those who said "I can't eat X" chose to eat the bar 61 percent of the time, as opposed to 36 percent from those who said "I don't eat X".

    As you would know self-talk can dramatically influence your decisions, "should I buy one more thing", "I can't eat another slice, can I". When you find yourself questioning something you know isn't going to be good for you change the self-talk to "I don't",  "I don't eat cake".

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  77. Solve tomorrows problems in your sleepNeurologists have known for a long time that the brain uses sleep cycles to continue understanding the previous day's experiences and work through problems, sleep isn't merely to rest the body and mind. In fact your brain actually gets bored during the night and starts to play games, known more commonly as dreams. During this time the brain makes new connections and prepares for the next day.

    The trouble is so few people can naturally remember their dreams, and fewer still can nudge their subconscious in a desired location. There are techniques for honing these exact skills, but that’s for another day.

    Knowing that sleeping on a problem actually allows for restructuring of the brain connections and 'sets the stage for the emergence of insight', how can you use this to your advantage?

    Before going to sleep at night, think for a few moments about what your day tomorrow looks like and any potential challenges. Think about any barriers or obstacles you might need to overcome. You might need to explain 555 to a troublesome SAM, you might need to work out where a sudden spike in shoulder injuries has come from.

    Don't dwell on it, and certainly don't try to solve it, just think about what tomorrow might bring. During the night your brain will set to work on trying to solve the problem for you. This means the next day when you encounter the issue your subconscious will have already had time to process potential solutions and scenarios based on what you already know.

    It's a bit of a strange concept I know but there is strong research to support the effectiveness of this simple strategy.

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  78. Change your password and change your lifeI had to change two passwords this week, which always annoys me as I just get used to remembering the old one then have to change it again. But in doing this I realised something. Being forced to change passwords regularly is actually a good way of subconsciously breaking habitual thinking or creating new patterns. Several times a day we have to enter passwords into laptops, phones, etc. Take your password to the next level by turning it into a mantra that can actually change your life.

    Your password can serve as a constant reminder of things you want to achieve or change. For example ‘Quit@smoking4ever’, ‘Save4Holiday’, ‘Walk@Morning’. By typing this out many times a month you create a new pattern and subconscious reminder that can help you achieve your goal.

    There is also evidence that a password like ‘H#%ddG3’ is actually less secure than ‘Quit@smoking4ever’. To a computer special symbols like #%!# are no more difficult to crack than letters of the alphabet. The best password you can have is a long password, more than 10 characters – so something like ‘10KrunCOME@ME’ is much more secure.

    Next time you have to change your password don’t waste an opportunity.

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  79. Where to sit for every type of meeting [infographic]SeatsandStools explains the optimum seating position for a range of business situations: from job interviews to formal lunches.

    Seats and Stools Business & Interview Seating Guide

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  80. Tips to reignite your motivational fire when a project starts to stallTips to reignite your motivational fire when a project starts to stall

    Re-ignite the fire

    As things become more difficult it is easy to begin focusing on the things that are wrong, 'its too difficult', 'whats the point', 'Im wasting my time'. When you start to look at things from a negative perspective you begin to find more things wrong to support your negative view.

    When you started you had a passion, a fire for what you were doing. It you think of your motivation like a fire you need to help it grow again. You can do this by creating a powerful focus again to reignite your flame.

    Why do I want to achieve this - write down three reasons why you HAVE to get it done.

    Think about how it will feel when you have achieved the goal and overcome every obstacle. If you are the type of person who likes to visualise as you think about how it will feel imagine seeing a growing, roaring fire in your minds eye

    What can you learn from this experience

    These temporary moments of doubt can provide valuable learning experiences, look for these. When you hear yourself say things like 'I should just give up', re frame the question to yourself and ask 'what can I learn from this that will help me grow'. It might take a bit of practice to shift your focus in this way but it will definitely be worth it.

    Plan your next steps forward

    You need to bit a bit of momentum to get things progressing again. While the project might still consist of many steps looking at the big picture could just reinforce your doubts. Glance at the big picture and only think about the next couple of steps you need to take to get you moving again. Ask yourself 'what things can I do right now to move me in the right direction'. As soon as you have thought of a task start it

    Keep it satisfyingly simply

    There might be a lot of steps and actions in achieving your goal and you might need to break it down into more achievable chunks. Take the larger goal and separate it into smaller goals.
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  81. Make your to do list a motivational toolTo do lists are typically quite boring, just a long list of things to do, and not very motivational. A to do list requires you to already be motivated to get through the tasks, but what if the to do list itself could boost your motivation? How I hear you ask, its simple!

    Often we are more likely to read something if it has a question mark attached to it. A question mark engages our brain, it stimulates our natural curiosity, and curiosity can motivate us to explore. Next time you are writing a to do list turn your items into questions or even better a challenge. You could even ask yourself a question why you want to do a task, or the specifics of the task to help get things moving along.

    For example

    • Morning run

    • Finalise accounts

    • Phone 3 customers

    • Take out trash

    • Organise focus group meeting

    These could be posed as:

    • Is a 30 min run enough this morning

    • Can you get the accounts finished by 9am

    • Can you call three customers by lunch

    • Why should I take out the trash

    • Who should attend the focus group meeting

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  82. What people that piss you off can teach you about yourselfWe all meet people that annoy us from time to time, I've met a few. These antagonistic people are actually presenting opportunities to us for our own personal development.

    Often when people annoy us it's because we share (or fear we share) similar character traits, you may not like it but it's true. You may resist this reality, it's not the easiest to accept, but when someone irritates you it's often because they are mirroring a quality that lies within you and subconsciously you don't like it.

    For example, if you see someone as acting irrationally, think about yourself in that image. Is there an irrational behaviour in you that comes out at times, or do you fear being seen as an irrational person.

    When you realise you dislike someone, explore why you feel that way and it could be a window to your own growth. As well as helping improve yourself, it's also likely that rationally considering why you aren't keen on someone will put things into perspective and improve the relationship in question.

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  83. Good ideas? Start NOWHaving too few good ideas can be a problem, on the flipside having too many ideas can also be difficult.

    Todays article isn't about helping you become more creative, its about helping you to get a start on some of your good ideas rather than spending too much time thinking.

    Having lots of ideas floating around can make it tempting to continually move from one idea to the other and never actually start anything while you try to 'perfect' the idea.

    Try thinking less and just execute the idea. If you spend more time coming up with more ideas and thinking about how to bring them to life your just spending less time actually putting those ideas into practice. Put great ideas related to your area of focus into action immediately, then review and adjust.

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  84. Defuse conflicts by changing the discussion to shared goalsI'm sure you already know this, but just to re-cap. When you open a discussion with someone with negative emotions you are virtually guaranteed to enter into a conflict. When tempers start to flare we often say things we regret later. The Harvard Business Review advises keeping emotions out of a discussion, even if your colleague says they are angry or disappointed.

    Try not reciprocating to negative emotions. Instead of threatening back or making your own claim, focus on interests, what you and your counterpart actually want from the situation and why.

    You could say something like 'help me understand why this is such a problem'. Take things back to the project or work itself don't get caught up in the emotions.

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  85. Change your email settings to check less frequentlyIn 2013 over 1 billion smartphones were shipped, up 38% from the previous year. It's easier than ever now to be highly connected to email, and it can become a little obsessive. If you find you don't check your email at regular intervals, instead checking every time you hear your phone chime it might be time to change your email settings.

    Most people by default have their phone set to 'push' new messages, meaning as soon as they arrive on the email server they immediately download to your phone.

    To set how often iPhone Mail checks your accounts for new messages:

    Tap Settings on the iPhone's Home screen.
    Go to Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
    Select Fetch New Data.
    Make sure 'push' is set to off
    Under 'fetch' set the frequency you would like your email to download, 'hourly' might be a good choice.
    For step by step instructions with images click the below link

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  86. What did you learn yesterdayThroughout senior education everyone develops the ability to remember things by writing them down. It’s a basic skill that students have no choice but to develop early in order to get through tests and exams.

    Writing things down gives your brain a bit of extra help remembering things, unfortunately most people stop writing things down after leaving school.

    Some people may keep a diary / calendar and this is a great start. The next step is to keep a fact binder. Create a notebook or expand the notes you write in your diary to include all of the things you learned throughout the day.

    Throughout the day we all learn many things, whether it's from reading online, talking with others you work with, or just general observations, there are plenty of opportunities to learn new things during the day. The conscious brain can only retain around 7 items of information at a time (give or take a few) therefore it makes sense that things would slip through the cracks, writing things down helps you to stay sharp.

    In your binder create various topics sections that are meaningful to you. Each day 're-cap' and read across your notes and add any new facts. They could even be as simple as 'new words'. Even if facts aren't terribly useful the act of writing them down can help you to learn and remember more effectively

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  87. Glance at the big pictureYou have probably heard the term 'big picture thinking' and 'small picture thinking'.

    Big picture thinking can sometimes be a bit daunting and distracting. It's important to take an occasional look at the overall goal but stay focussed on the pieces instead.

    Breaking a larger goal into smaller pieces is not a new idea. The point of this model of thinking is to not become consumed with the overall big picture, keep it as a reference point and refer to it regularly but don't stare at it for too long.

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  88. Failure is ok but don't let it consume youIts ok to fail from time to time and its ok to feel down about it. But don't let it consume you. Allow yourself time to deal with failure and then move on.

    Come up with an amount of time that feels right to you, say 24 hours, and once that time is up move on. Learning and moving on from failure only makes us stronger.

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  89. Don't fret about feeling inferior, it can help you learn quickerWhen learning a new skill, especially later in life, we expect it to come quickly. After all, we’re adults, right? Approaching learning with humility may be a better approach.

    Daniel Everett, a gifted linguist, was failing to learn the language of the Paraha tribe in the Amazon, which stumped researchers for years. He failed because he approached it as a linguist and Christian missionary, from a position of superiority.

    He didn’t master the language until he learned it like one of the Paraha’s children, dependent on the tribe, and subject to the same restraints, inferiority, and need for support that they were.

    Entering a new place or path you need to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. Lingering prejudices and feelings of superiority hamper that.

    If you get stuck and assume you should be learning at a quicker pace, reverse your assumption and release your prejudice.

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  90. Too much sleep is bad for the brainWe all know that not enough sleep is bad for us, but did you also know that too much sleep is a bad thing.

    A new study suggests that more sleep than the recommended 7-8 hours may negatively affect your memory and thinking. The Nurses' Health Study asked over 15,000 women about their sleep habits in 1986 and 2000. The nurses' cognitive functions were tested three times during a six year period. Those who slept little (5 hours or less) or very much (9 hours or more) performed significantly less on memory and thinking tests compared to those who slept 7-8 hours a day.

    What was even more concerning about this study was that the researchers estimated the under and over sleepers were mentally two years older than those who slept the recommended amount.

    The study also suggested that changes by more than 2 hours to your sleep over time could causes poorer cognitive skills

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  91. Boost your self esteem with an appreciation breakThe challenges of daily life and work can take a toll on our self-esteem. It is important to stop and reflect through the day, take two short minutes to focus on what you have done right for the day.

    Sit in a quiet place, take a deep breath and relax. Then ask yourself? What are two things that I can appreciate about myself?

    It doesn't have to be big things, it could be that you got up 5 minutes early, had a chat with someone who you don't normally talk with, or simply were punctual for a meeting.

    By taking time to appreciate yourself it can help to alter your perspective of yourself through the day. You may even find your reactions to situations become more positive and you focus less on negatives through the day.

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  92. Avoid phrases like 'I'm swamped' to keep your stress level downRegardless of whether you are actually swamped as soon as you get wrapped up in phrases like 'Things are way too crazy right now', 'I don't have time for this', you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. As soon as you've managed to convince yourself that you have too much to do you will continue to feel that way and stress yourself out. Whether you really do have way too much to do is irrelevant, once you reinforce those feelings you cement them - and we all know what stress does.

    Stay focussed on the task at hand, instead of thinking how much more there is to do. Concentrate on a single task and the specific item you're working on, not the pile of things you have to do after you're finished.

    You may not be able to change your work or how much there is to do, but you can change your perception of it. Sometimes that’s all you need to be able to power through and not drive yourself insane.

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  93. Don't be scared to try out 101 productivity appsI have tried out many, many, many productivity apps. If you're anything like me you have probably tried out a few yourself. Apps can be a great mental assistant and for a bit of time its new, fun and helps you get a few things done - but then it wears off.

    Psychologists call this the 'novelty effect' and it's not all bad. The effect is pretty simple - when we are exposed to a new process or environment we gain a short term boost in performance. The 'novelty effect' occurs a lot in high-tech tools, especially with the hundreds of productivity apps available on the Apple and Android app stores.

    The problem with the novelty effect is that it wears off and when we stop to reflect on the fact that we haven't tracked our time, looked at the new calendar or used that new to do list - we start to feel bad about it. But you don't need to.

    Knowing the 'novelty effect' exists hack into the part of your brain that loves new things and embrace it. The small boosts you get from trying out new apps and tools helps at first and this is better than nothing, don't regret not going back to the tool if it doesn't continue to work for you, just try something new, and try plenty to continue riding the novelty effect wave. Eventually you will find something that works for you, and when you do stick with it.

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  94. Anxiety about daunting tasksA challenging task can be daunting and even lead us to feel a level of initiation anxiety. This ends up resulting in procrastination and avoidance and doesn't help get anywhere.

    To get one of these seemingly daunting tasks started pick one aspect, just one and work on it for 5 minutes - no more.

    Initiation anxiety is often triggered by our minds not being able to fully comprehend the task at hand, the sheer size of it scares us and the subconscious mind tries to steer us in another direction. In order to convince your subconscious and yourself it is indeed manageable limit yourself to five minutes only.

    Pick the task you want to work on and vow to work on it for five minutes.

    You must stop after five minutes.

    Now you may be thinking to yourself 'what a waste of time', but that is 5 minutes more on the task completed than if you did nothing at all.

    Procrastination is a psychological barrier and you now have a tool to help you start to break it down.

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  95. Motivate yourself by counting down to the start of a taskGenerally the hardest part of a task is the beginning. When you have control of when a task starts you also get to choose if you want to delay it.

    While you know you have a task to start sometimes that is not enough to get you going. It can be easy to break this cycle of procrastination by taking one small step to move you forward, by setting a time to start the task and counting down to it.

    Set a task, set a countdown timer on your phone and when the countdown reaches zero your off.

    Give this a try next time you have to complete a task that you sense you might want to avoid. Set a short timer and when the countdown reaches zero see how that changes things.

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  96. Stop 'precrastinating'A 2011 study published in the European Journal of Economics, Finance and Administrative Sciences showed procrastination was one of the leading factors affecting work-related stress. Procrastination has been linked to poor performance, and even poor health. Therefore it would seem likely that the opposite of procrastination, which would be 'precrastination', would be a good thing. But no, a recent study by Pennsylvania State University suggests this precrastination isn't a good thing either.

    Professor David Rosenbaum and graduate student Cory Adam Potts conducted an experiment where participants were given the choice of carrying one of two heavy buckets full of pennies down an alley. One bucket was placed near participants at the start line while the other bucket was placed closer to the finish line.

    Rather than picking up the bucket near the finish line the majority of the participants picked up the bucket closest to them, even though it meant they had to carry it farther and expend more effort. When the participants were asked why they'd chosen the closer bucket the majority replied they wanted to get the task done as quickly as possible. While this meant they had to carry the bucket further they didn't have to think about picking up the bucket before the finish line, lightening their mental load but increasing their physical load.

    This 'precrastination', doing things before they actually need attention, isn't always good for you. In the Penn State example participants could have waited until the last second and picked up the second bucket, reducing their physical output and most likely allowing them to complete the task more effectively.

    “If you want to start and finish something as fast as possible--before you have the full instruction on how to complete the task--it could potentially be a problem,” says Potts.

    Apply this to your standard work day, rather than finishing that document you've been needing to do you decide to clear your inbox, as you know you will need to do it later. While clearing your inbox is no doubt important it's not the thing you set out to do and could cause further distraction.

    While precrastinating may feel better than procrastinating it could result in lost details or even missed opportunities for cognitive processing.

    “Oftentimes, you’re able to remember things better or things occur to you that wouldn’t have occurred to you [in the moment], says Potts. "If you’re a procrastinator, you have that time to incubate, whereas if you’re a precrastinator you don’t.”

    So maybe a little procrastination isn't a bad thing.

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  97. You are not your big toeDr. Clay Cook, Assistant Professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington has some excellent 'everyday science' based tips to help reduce stress, increase happiness and achieve wellbeing.

    His 'recipe for wellbeing' is based on six ingredients starts with an interesting mindfulness task you can try out now.

    "You are not your big toe"

    The reality is quite simple. If you were to notice pressure on your big toe it might feel a little uncomfortable.

    Think about that now and get a sense of what pressure on your big toe might be like.

    As you think about that you may begin to notice distressing or uncomfortable thoughts.

    But that does not mean that you are distressed, does it.

    And as you notice those uncomfortable thoughts simply label them, they might be 'distressing', 'uncomfortable', 'feelings from my toe'. And then allow them to pass, along with the pressure on your toe, allowing it to dissipate and disappear.

    Thoughts impact on how you feel, and in turn, feelings impact on your behaviour. Ultimately though, thoughts can't make you do anything and don't define who you are. When you become aware of thoughts simply label them, 'I'm having the thought that my big toe is uncomfortable'. Recognise the thought for what it is, just a thought. The better you can become aware of your thoughts the easier they will be to control and prevent them from consuming you. Just like you did earlier on with the feeling of 'distress' in your big toe.

    To read Dr. Clay Cooks other five ingredients go to
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  98. An 18 minute productivity plan for each dayHarvard Business Review writer Peter Bregman proposed the idea  of an '18 minute plan for managing your day'. In this plan he proposes three simple steps to help you better manage the day.

    Step 1 (5 minutes) Set plan for the day - before turning on a computer sit with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful, write it down then put it in your calendar (planning when and where is important)

    In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz describe a study in which a group of women agreed to do a breast self-exam during a period of 30 days. 100% of those who said where and when they were going to do it completed the exam. Only 53% of the others did.

    In another study, drug addicts in withdrawal (can you find a more stressed-out population?) agreed to write an essay before 5 p.m. on a certain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay completed it. None of the others did.

    Step 2 (1 minute every hour) refocus. Set your watch, phone or computer to ring every hour. Take a deep breath and take a look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and recommit to how you are going to use the next hour.

    Step 3 (5 minutes) review - shut off your computer and review your day. What worked, where did you refocus, where did you get distracted, what will make you more productive tomorrow. Other questions you could ask yourself could include:

    • How did the day go? What success did I experience? What challenges did I endure?

    • What did I learn today? About myself? About others? What do I plan to do — differently or the same — tomorrow?

    • Who did I interact with? Anyone I need to update? Thank? Ask a question? Share feedback?

    To read more of Peter Bregman's article go to
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  99. Music influences the way you shopIn a 1982 Journal of Marketing Dr Ronald E Milliman, a professor of marketing put forward the idea that the music a person listens to while they shop has a significant influence on their behaviour. For years retailers have used this knowledge to pipe in soft, slow orchestral tunes to high end department stores and upbeat fast music to food courts. The idea is that fast music will make people shop faster and slow will cause them to take their time.

    Dr Millimans study ran over a 9 week period and found that fast music did in fact cause shoppers to move through the store faster, while slow music had the reverse effect. In addition, slow tempo music seemed to correlate to a jump in sales, fast music with reduced sales.

    Slow music was defined as that with a tempo of 72 BPM or lower, while tempos of 94 BPM were defined as fast. Instrumental music was selected to eliminate the effect of hearing a male or female singer.

    Next time you're out shopping take notice of the music playing, is it slow or fast - and is that the speed you want to be shopping at? If it is not you may need to change where you shop, or keep your subconscious mind focussed on something like the time, or chatting with friends as you shop, you could even wear headphones and listen to your own music as you go.

    To read Dr Milliman's full study click below

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