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By Eric Maisel
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2004 Eric Maisel
All rights reserved.
The six decks in the A Little Every Day series are Everyday Calm, Everyday Creative, Everyday Smart, and the soon to come Everyday Mindful, Everyday Centered, and Everyday Joyful. These six ideas—calm, creative, smart, mindful, centered, and joyful—make up a complete program for creating an excellent way of life. Each individual idea supports the other five. If you use the decks in concert with one another, you will find yourself growing in profound, unexpected ways.
The thirty cards in the Everyday Smart deck provide you with thirty different ways to spark your inner genius. They help you manifest your native intelligence, your intuitive abilities, and your critical thinking skills. I invite you to nurture ideas, embrace solitude, cultivate thoughtfulness, sleep-think solutions to problems, and much more. Each card in the Everyday Smart deck will help you grow smarter. All thirty may turn you into a genius!
I am always happy to hear from readers of my books and users of my decks. You can find the best way to contact me at my website, www.ericmaisel.com. I hope that you find the decks in the A Little Every Day series evocative, beautiful, and useful. May you have a calm, creative, smart, mindful, centered, joyful day!
Smart is a decision. You can decide to use your brain. You can choose to make an effort.
Grow smart by deciding to be smart.
Keep a "smart living" journal in which you dialogue with yourself about how to effectively meet life's problems and challenges. Head each page with an affirmation like "I choose to be smart" or "I intend to use my native intelligence."
You are smarter than you think. You are only as smart as you think. Heal your self-image.
Grow smart by feeling smart.
Rank your smartness on a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest. If the number you come up with is anything short of ten shout out "No way! I am definitely a ten!" Whenever you have to use your brain, remind yourself that you are a real 10.
Your own thoughts are the best thoughts. They are personal. They are singular.
Grow smart by honoring your own thoughts.
Whenever you have a thought worth saving, write it down instantly. If that means pulling out your pad in the supermarket or excusing yourself in the middle of a luncheon conversation, do so. Make it a point to save, rather than ignore, your good thoughts.
Excellent ideas flow when you take an interest. Take an interest in life. That interest is only another name for love.
Grow smart by taking an interest.
Make a list of the things that pique your interest. Each item on that list is a rich avenue to explore. If your list is short or if you can't get it started, take that as a signal that you've fallen out of love with life. Decide how you will fall back in love.
Thoughtfulness is an attitude. Without it, intelligence is mere potential. Honor your pensive, thoughtful nature.
Grow smart by cultivating a thoughtful attitude.
Picture how you usually react in situations. Are you impulsive? Do you speak before you think? Do you withdraw or go blank? In your mind's eye picture a new you; one who responds to situations calmly and thoughtfully.
Think BIG! Let the immensity within you come out. Stretch intellectually.
Grow smart by entertaining large ideas.
Get an erasable board and, in huge letters, put up a large idea that you want to pursue. It could be "Write that novel" or "Start that company" or "Investigate that theory." Let the belief grow in you that you are equal to formidable intellectual work.
Ideas need nurturing. They come like babies into the world. Indistinct, fragmentary, in need of elaboration.
Grow smart by nurturing newborn ideas.
Start a journal dedicated to new ideas. When an idea comes to you that you want to save, enter it in your journal at the top of a fresh page. Right then or later that same day, pursue that idea for at least half an hour, going with it wherever it wants to take you.
Solitude is the home of the thinker. Grow easier with solitude. Keep and enjoy your own company.
Grow smart by embracing solitude.
Passive solitude—like watching television or reading a book—is easy. Active solitude—when you do creative work, think through a problem, or listen to your own voice—is much harder. Plan for one hour of active solitude each day this week.
Trial and error is the best teacher. Have real experiences. Learn from them.
Grow smart through trial-and-error experimentation.
Think of something you'd like to learn to do that you would normally attend a class or a workshop before attempting. If it's possible to learn the subject by trial and error, commit to a journey of experimentation instead of a workshop.
Right thoughts are often elegant. Perfectly formed. As seamless as a beautiful dream.
Grow smart by inviting the elegant solution.
Bring a current problem, challenge, or conflict to mind. Then complete the following sentence: "An elegant solution would be ..." Put the word "elegance" up where you can see it and let the idea of "elegant thinking" seep into your being.
Logic and intuition are partners. Your left brain is only half a brain. Your right brain is only half a brain.
Grow smart by using your whole brain.
Describe for yourself the ideal partnership of logic and intuition. What would that partnership look like? Do you favor one mode over the other? What can you do to increase the function of your less preferred mode?
Foolishness is a path to brilliance. Try the silly solution. Try the outlandish idea.
Grow smart by being an original.
The next time you have a problem to solve, contemplate not one or two but twenty or twenty-five possible solutions. Let far-fetched solutions populate your list. If one of those outlandish solutions turns out to be the best, consider that a lesson well-learned.
Banish worry and reclaim your brain. Every worried thought steals mind space. Every anxious thought prevents a brainstorm.
Grow smart by banishing worry.
Reduce the number of worries that plague you by creating an affirmation, funny or solemn, that supports you in your desire to worry less. For instance, try on "I am a worry-free zone" or "I prefer not to worry" or one of your own creation.
Smart is as smart does. If your good idea requires action, act. Otherwise it becomes idle and empty.
Grow smart through action.
Put together an action plan to tackle some project you've been avoiding. Describe what you will do first, what you will do second, and so on. As soon as you have your plan written, pause, take a deep breath, and get cracking.
Enjoy thinking. Have fun! Rejoice that you have a brain that works.
Grow smart by enjoying smartness!
Ask yourself, "Why don't I enjoy thinking?" Maybe you were told that you were stupid. Maybe you never did well in school. Maybe you grow too anxious when you try to think hard. Whatever the reason, shout "I am going to enjoy thinking!"
Visualize your goal. What is the smart way to reach it? Isn't that the question to be asking?
Grow smart by strategizing.
Even in small matters, begin to ask yourself "What is the smart way?" Visualize actual paths to a solution and the real obstacles that might confront you on each path. Then ask yourself, "Of these possible ways, which is the smartest?"
Calm yourself. Center yourself. Then your natural wisdom will flow.
Grow smart through mindfulness.
When you want to think your best, begin by taking a few cleansing, calming breaths. Slowly inhale, slowly exhale, relax. Take a second calming breath, then a third. Use this simple technique before tests, presentations, job interviews, and so on.
Reality trumps theory. See with your own eyes. Decide for yourself what is true or false.
Grow smart by testing reality.
Think of something that intrigues you that you only know about through theory, opinion, or hearsay—for instance, the livability of a certain town across the state. Say "I'm going to find out for myself" and do just that.
Knowing is an art. Do you know what you know? Do you know what you don't know?
Grow smart through an awareness of knowledge.
Divide a sheet of paper into three columns. Label column one "Know," column two "Don't Know," and column three "Unknowable." Fill in the columns. Appreciate the difference between what you don't yet know and what is patently unknowable.
Skepticism is a virtue. Do not accept received wisdom. Believe only what you actually know to be true.
Grow smart through incredulity.
Ask yourself, "How scary do I find doubting my own beliefs?" If you find it very scary, affirm that you can survive doubt and that you won't let fear prevent you from examining your life fully and honestly.
Analysis is a teasing apart. It's an investigation of what counts. An examination of what matters.
Grow smart by reasoning analytically.
Bring to mind a decision you need to make in the near future. Ask yourself, "What criteria will I use as the basis for my decision?" Figure out what really matters so that you can make a more informed decision.
Synthesis is a coming together. That excellent small or large "Aha!" experience. Open your mind to the way of connections.
Grow smart by recognizing connections.
Connect two ideas that interest you—for instance, Zen and volleyball, performance and art, parenting and volunteering—and see if any interesting synthetic thoughts arise. Get in the habit of routinely connecting disparate ideas.
Eager neurons await your instructions. You can keep them idle; busy doing nothing. Or you can excite them, activate them, enlist them.
Grow smart by exciting your neurons.
Create a neuronal battle cry—for instance, "Go, neurons!" or "Whole brain forward!" Picture billions of neurons marching by your side, eager to do any work you suggest. Choose a fascinating subject or a knotty problem and cry "Onward, faithful neurons!"
Problems can be difficult to solve. They demand hard, direct, conscious thought. And also a surrender to our unconscious mind.
Grow smart consciously and unconsciously.
If you've thought hard about something but seem to be getting nowhere, make the conscious decision to turn the matter over to unconscious awareness. Say, "I am letting go now. I give it over to you completely, unconscious mind."
Thinking makes us anxious. Following a train of thought can put us in a panic. We furrow our brow and prepare to flee.
Grow smart by calming your anxious nature.
If you have the intuition that anxiety is preventing you from manifesting your natural smartness, take a deep breath and say out loud, "I embrace you, anxiety. I know you are a part of life and I don't have to run from you."
Some questions take a long time to answer. Keep your unanswered questions on a back burner. Pay them regular attention as answers percolate.
Grow smart through intention and attention.
Schedule an hour or two one day each month to reconsider the important questions you've put on a back burner—changing careers, improving your fitness, moving to another locale, starting a creative project, and so on.
Sleep-think solutions to problems. Go to bed with a wonder. Wake up with a solution.
Grow smart by sleep-thinking.
Prepare a sleep-thinking question such as "I wonder what direction my life should take?" or "I wonder how I should deal with my coworker?" Murmur the question to yourself as you drift off to sleep and expect an answer by morning.
Share your ideas. Communicate your wisdom. Have a voice.
Grow smart by communicating.
Acquire a better understanding of what you already know by communicating that knowledge in an article you submit, a speech you deliver, a chat you have with your child, a written exercise you assign yourself, or in some other tangible way.
Critical thinking is a way of life. You pause, you wonder, you use your brain. You accept nothing less than your own best answers.
Grow smart by thinking critically.
Say out loud, "I am a critical thinker." If that feels strange to say or uncomfortable to wear, ask yourself, "Why don't I trust critical thinking? What are my doubts, my fears?" Find the answer, so that you can become an everyday smart person.
Today is a day to be smart. Whether it's raining or the sun is shining. Whether you feel dull or brilliant.
Grow smart today and every day!
Choose one thing to do today to which you will commit your native intelligence, wit, and intuition. Picture in your mind's eye yourself at your most effective and creative. When that moment arrives, step up to the plate!
Excerpted from Everyday Smart by Eric Maisel. Copyright © 2004 Eric Maisel. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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