How to stimulate your mind, see the world more fully.

Leaf on bark.
Leaf on bark.

Life can be very busy.  Some days go by in a blur.  So I often don’t have time to fully appreciate the enormous, wonderful world that surrounds me.

That’s one reason why I love to walk, haul my camera around, and write.

Unfortunately, one must constantly attend to life’s small stuff. You know–daily business, errands, dull routines. But I’ve learned that I can always–no matter where I am or what I’m doing–open myself to new wonder. Here are a few unusual mental exercises. They help to stimulate your mind, so that you can see the world more fully.

1. Name every object you see.

That’s right! As you go about during an ordinary day, find the word or words that describe every object you happen to see. In your mind, name everything that exists in front of your eyes. Add descriptive adjectives and adverbs. You’ll see more than you did before, and perhaps in a new light. You’ll have greater awareness of the world around you, even the small details.

2. Search for objects of a specific color.

Select a random color. Then as you move through your day, consciously search your surroundings for ordinary objects of that color. Do this and you’ll become acutely aware of the appearance of things–not just their color. You’ll appreciate the world’s richness and innate beauty. You’ll see how all things fit together. Try it!

3. Search the horizon, and imagine what’s beyond it.

From time to time, when outdoors, focus your eyes on the horizon. What can you see there? Can you imagine what probably (or possibly) lies just beyond the horizon? What do you think is going on in that unseen place? Or better yet, on a pitch black night look up at the stars. What is going on there?

This exercise broadens your view of the universe and helps you grasp its entirety with your mind. That is–to the extent we humans can grasp such immensity!

4. Examine the world inches from your eyes.

Standing next to something? Put your nose right up close and examine it! Do you find yourself in a boring old office building’s lobby that has a painting on a wall? Look at the brush strokes! Waiting on a sidewalk under an ordinary tree? Look closely at the bark or the leaves!

Closely examine those things that happen to be nearby. Analyze precisely.  Renew your wonder. Perhaps pretend you’re a giant, surveying a fascinating, miniature world. Because in a sense, we all ARE giants–when the mind is stimulated, curious and growing.

5. Imagine the world in the future, or in the past.

Where are you? Slowly turn to look all around. Now imagine your immediate surroundings in the near or distant past, or in the near or distant future.

San Diego, the bustling place I call home, is relatively new compared to most cities. A couple hundred years ago–which isn’t long at all–Southern California was essentially a wilderness. So it’s interesting to imagine San Diego with no buildings, no streets, almost no sign of human life. Just canyons and hills, covered with sagebrush and dry chaparral.

How did my growing city appear a hundred years ago? Fifty years ago? And why do things appear as they do today? How might things change tomorrow? A hundred years from now? A thousand years from now? A million years from now?

This unusual mental exercise helps you to appreciate the world’s fullness in both space and time. And it stimulates your imagination!

6. Imagine people around you at different stages in life.

You and I are alike in many ways. Living life, by definition, is all that we can know. By observing the people around you more fully, perhaps you can better understand humanity and yourself.

Imagine how strangers around you might physically appear at different stages of life. Do you see an elderly person? Try to imagine how they looked when they were a child. Do you see a child? Imagine how they’ll appear when they grow old.

This is an old trick many writers use when creating a character sketch. It really makes the observer think.  It puts our short lives in perspective!

7. Ask yourself what a nearby person will do next.

Here’s another clever trick. Do you see a stranger nearby? Watch them for a bit from the corner of your eye. What do you think they’ll do next? Then afterward, ask yourself why your guess was right or wrong.

By gaining insights into human behavior, you’ll better appreciate the paths and turns of other minds. And you’ll see why humans have fashioned their world as it is. For better or worse.

And, of course, you’ll learn something about your own inclinations and perceptions.

8. Understand what people are thinking.

One more mental exercise that anyone can try. This is quite possibly the most difficult. Imagine or deduce what a nearby person is thinking. Can you see their thoughts in their eyes? In their gestures? In their actions?

How do you think they see the world?

Do you like to read short pieces of thought-provoking fiction? You might enjoy checking out Short Stories by Richard.

Signs containing wisdom enlighten the city.

A small handwritten sign seen in a San Diego window. The danger of falling in love is falling in love.
A small handwritten sign seen in a San Diego window. The danger of falling in love is falling in love.

Here are some wise (or seemingly wise) signs that I’ve photographed during my walks around downtown San Diego. Some enlighten passersby, some add a touch of lightness or levity to daily life.

If there is one thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that coffee is Great! Indeed, many things in life are.
If there is one thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that coffee is Great! Indeed, many things in life are.
Perhaps this is wise. Perhaps not. Play today, work mañana.
Perhaps this is wise. Perhaps not. Play today, work mañana.
Hazard. One word warns of unseen danger under the smooth, peaceful water of San Diego Bay.
Hazard. One small word to the wise, warning of unseen danger under the deceptively peaceful water of San Diego Bay.
More wisdom inside another downtown window. Live in the moment, take chances, be here now, tell someone how much they mean to you.
More wise philosophy inside a downtown window. Live in the moment, take chances, be here now, tell someone how much they mean to you.
Sign on San Diego sidewalk. With our thoughts we make the world. Buddha.
Sign on San Diego sidewalk with a powerful, insightful quote. With our thoughts we make the world. Buddha.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read short philosophical stories? You might enjoy checking out Short Stories by Richard.

Funny Irish pub signs in San Diego.

If you're lucky enough to be Irish, then you're lucky enough.
If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you’re lucky enough.

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us! Here are a few warm and funny Irish pub signs that I’ve spotted while walking around downtown San Diego.

I can resist anything but temptation.
I can resist anything but temptation.
Sláinte! A toast to good luck and good health. Whatever your beverage, be sure and raise a glass in toast to St. Patrick, to the Irish and to yourself.
Sláinte! A toast to good luck and good health. Whatever your beverage, be sure and raise a glass in toast to St. Patrick, to the Irish and to yourself.
Here's to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold beer and another one!
Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold beer and another one!
Drink up! It makes other people more interesting. (I think I spotted this in front of an Irish pub. Or perhaps it was just an ordinary San Diego bar.)
Drink up! It makes other people more interesting. (I think I spotted this in front of an Irish pub. Or perhaps it was just an ordinary San Diego bar.)
Lovely day for a Guinness. Especially if you're a horse enjoying a nice leisurely ride.
Lovely day for a Guinness. Especially if you’re a horse enjoying a nice leisurely ride.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read short pieces of thought-provoking fiction? Please visit Short Stories by Richard.

Blog (and write) with passion and personality!

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I wrote a guest post for the website Mostly Blogging! My article concerns blogging (and writing) with passion and personality. You might enjoy reading it by clicking here!

And while you’re at it, check out their cool website, which covers how to become a successful blogger! It’s got lots of great info and a whole bunch of nice people, too!

For all sorts of fun adventures, please join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Free books for teachers, schools, hospitals and prisons.

San Diego Book Project promotes literacy both locally and worldwide. They were present at TwainFest in Old Town.
San Diego Book Project promotes literacy both locally and worldwide. They were present at TwainFest in Old Town.

The San Diego Book Project promotes literacy both locally and worldwide. It’s an effort I strongly support. So when I happened to see these folks with a table full of books at TwainFest this weekend, I instantly decided to provide a hand with my blog.

The San Diego Book Project has given away nearly a million donated books! They’re sent to teachers, schools, classrooms and students who might not have the resources to buy their own material. Beyond San Diego’s more disadvantaged neighborhoods, schools in South Africa, India, Peru and the Philippines have also received free books. Life-changing books are also sent to hospitals and prisons, and any not-for-profit organization that actively encourages literacy.

Do you need some free books? Would you like to donate or volunteer? Check out their website.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a work of classic literature sure to interest new readers.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a work of classic literature sure to interest new readers.
Good books open minds, promote education. An exciting journey with the written word makes life richer and more meaningful.
Good books open minds, promote education. An exciting journey with the written word makes life richer and more meaningful.

Join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Colorful neon words brighten downtown San Diego.

Cool neon sign in shop window of Centre City Sports Collectibles.
Cool neon sign in shop window of Centre City Sports Collectibles.

Over time I’ve collected these photos.  They’re just of colorful neon words that brighten downtown San Diego. I spot all sorts of neon signs during my walks, sometimes in daylight, sometimes at night. Glowing advertisements in windows, on building walls and marquees add life and character to the streets of any city. San Diego is no exception.

Neon words above downtown San Diego cafe door read Pastries Espresso Cappuccino.
Neon words above downtown San Diego cafe door read Pastries Espresso Cappuccino.
Fun neon adds pizzazz to marquee of Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop on Fifth Avenue.
Patterned neon adds pizzazz to marquee of Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop on Fifth Avenue.
Bub's near Petco Park has its brilliant red name in this window.
Bub’s near Petco Park has its brilliant red name in this window.
Bright neon in the distinctive Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign, which is well known to locals and tourists.
Neon in the distinctive Gaslamp Quarter landmark sign, which is instantly recognized by both locals and tourists.
Classic neon signage is often seen in pawn shop windows.
Classic neon signage is often seen in pawn shop windows.
The Golden West Hotel near Horton Plaza has a flashy neon sign above its main entrance.
The Golden West Hotel near Horton Plaza has a flashy neon sign above its main entrance.
Glowing neon Bail Bonds advertisement at this open-all-night Inmate Information Center.
Glowing neon Bail Bonds advertisement at this open-all-night Inmate Information Center.
Off the Wall Tattoos has an in the window neon sign.
Off the Wall Tattoos has an “in the window” neon sign.
Lots of super colorful neon at the San Diego Bike Shop on C Street.
Lots of super colorful neon at the San Diego Bike Shop on C Street.
Neon words and their reflections broken up by a security grill in front of one store.
Neon words and their reflections broken up by a security grill in front of one store.
Great Wall Express located on Broadway downtown has yummy Lousisiana Fried Chicken, as you can plainly see!
Great Wall Express located on Broadway downtown has yummy Louisiana Fried Chicken, as you can see! (Admittedly, I eat too much of it.)
Lucky's Lunch Counter has a unique sign that really stands out.
Lucky’s Lunch Counter has a unique sign that really stands out.
Crab Hut invites hungry passersby with its neon logo.
Crab Hut invites hungry passersby with its neon logo.
Eye-catching neon sign informs all who pass by that pizza, chicken wings and sandwiches are on the menu.
Eye-catching neon sign informs everyone that pizza, chicken wings and sandwiches are on the menu.
An ice cream cone creatively rendered using neon.
An awesome ice cream cone creatively rendered using neon.  Okay, I suppose this doesn’t count as a word.
This one quickly got my attention! I hope I have room after the fried chicken!
These words instantly got my attention! I hope I have room after all that fried chicken!

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Before I Die: chalk street art dreams in Hillcrest.

People walk down a Hillcrest sidewalk past chalk street art desires.
People walk down a Hillcrest sidewalk past chalk street art dreams.

Human dreams are wildly varied and ever-changing. I saw proof of this in Hillcrest. Dozens of desires have been documented at a street corner on University Avenue, written in chalk on what appears to be a very large chalkboard. People passing by have paused for a moment to write what they would like to accomplish before they die.

This dynamic neighborhood, just north of downtown San Diego, is youthful and worldly. Those who’ve chosen to contribute to this participative street art have listed many dreams. Some are crude, some are desperate, some are erased.  Some are possible, some are impossible.  Some are profound. The absurd and the serious mingle together. Some dreams are mere whims, other dreams are ambitious. Some are selfish, some are unselfish.

Before I die I want to... Hunt mud ducks. Feel I am worthy.
Before I die I want to… Hunt mud ducks. Feel I am worthy.
Save the world. Make love. Visit Paris. Meet my biological parents.
Save the world. Make love. Visit Paris. Meet my biological parents.
Publish a book. Drink one more drink.
Publish a book. Drink one more drink.
Find hidden treasure. Find Waldo.
Find hidden treasure. Find Waldo.
People walk toward Alibi as they review reasons for living.
People walk toward Alibi as they review reasons for living.

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