Have you ever been in public, & took a moment to look around, noticing just how many people were on their phones? Not talking to the person right next to them, not paying attention to what’s around them, not… being present at all? Yeah, me too. Our generation is a bit… addicted to social media, & not often fully engaging in what’s directly around. It’s time to talk about the importance of being present, while strengthening our minds at the same time. Not only does this post provide simple techniques we can practice in our day-to-day life, but also includes some of the best games for keeping our minds sharp; games that will help us be more present. (That are super fun!)
Believe me, I know how it feels to watch one quick video on Youtube, then find yourself three hours later watching a video of a dog riding a pony; wondering how you even got to that point… (LOL) It’s easy to get sucked in, we’ve all been there. I also can’t be the only one that feels empty after I close the app, feeling like I didn’t really gain anything except for short-term entertainment.
So, I started practicing breaking away from the phone. Fully engaging in what was right in front of me, & really focusing on keeping my mind active. It was a nice reminder of how fulfilling it is being away from the chaotic internet. Just focusing on myself, & the moment I’m in with no distractions. It brings satisfaction & a content feeling when fully immersing yourself in the present.
2018 doesn’t seem to promote that much. 2018 seems to encourage us to spend more time on the internet, & engage in short-term entertainment, & fulfillment. Is that really benefiting us though? Do we really want to spend our time & money on the internet, just to log off feeling like we didn’t gain anything? I figured if a lot of people are frequently using the internet, why not use this platform to actually benefit people? Share with others what I am learning in my life? Why not use it to inspire & empower people?
So, today, I challenge you to be present, as well. Fully engage yourself in your environment, & put the phone away. Don’t even think about glancing at it while out at dinner! Smile at a stranger. Say hello to the person next to you. Hold a door open for someone. Let yourself be free. Don’t let your phone tie you down, holding you back from the real world. I challenge you to appreciate all that is around you, & let your mind wander. Ponder anything you find intriguing. Keeping an active mind is extremely beneficial in the long run; improving memory & overall health. We know it’s important to take care of our bodies, but for some reason usually overlook taking care of our minds. Today that changes!
An entertaining way to keeping your mind sharp, while simultaneously being able to socialize with friends or family, is playing strategic games together. When you invest in strategic games, games that challenge you to think outside of the box, you are setting your mind up for success. These games are great tools for not only bringing people together, but also reducing risk for mental illness, helping blood pressure, reducing stress, quickening decision-making, strengthening your mind, & many, many more health benefits! Now, let’s take a look at some of my favorite’s!
Here are some of my top recommendations that are perfect for Friday Night Game Nights (That are great for keeping your mind active & healthy):
The Worst Case Scenario Survival Game. Ages 12 & up. This game is a favorite in our household. Split into teams, one team reads the card that gives a worst case scenario. They are some of the craziest scenarios someone could find themselves in. Examples include: “How to fend off a shark” & “how to escape from killer bees”. The opposing team must choose answers A, B, or C, whichever they think holds the right answer. If correct, they move forward on the board. Each team takes turns. First to the finish wins. This game definitely tests your survival skills. Who knows, maybe one day these little facts will come in handy! (Hopefully not, but maybe!!)
Mancala. Ages 6 & up. Ahhh, a classic. Literally. This game is said to have been played for thousands of years now, one of the first games known to man. Two players face each other, & the object of the game is to get as many marbles (or rocks, stones, seeds, etc) into their own main pit. The marbles are moved around the table one by one, so while collecting your own, you also must implement strategies to stealing your opponents marbles. This game challenges you to constantly be one move in front of your opponent. My hubbie & I love to butt heads playing this one!!
Blokus. Ages 5 & up. Okay, I’m trying really hard to not write “this one is a family favorite” on every game listed so far, but it’s true. These are all such great games. Blokus is an abstract strategy game where you are given X amount of random shaped tetris pieces (Everyone has their own color) Taking turns, each player places one piece down onto the board. You cannot lie a new piece directly next to your other pieces, but instead touch at least one corner of your pieces already on the board. Whoever gets all of their pieces on the table first wins. Sounds easy enough right? Well… you may beg to differ on that when there are only a few openings left, & your final pieces may or may not fit. (This game is great for families with younger kids, as well!)
Connect 4. Ages 6 & up. Laugh at me all you want for including this one, but this is a great game! You can be a six-year-old playing this, or a sixty year old. All you need is one other person, & you each take turns dropping pieces down into the board! First to connect four vertically, horizontally, or diagonally wins. It is a simple game that still challenges your mind to think strategically. You have to be one move ahead of your opponent always! If you don’t fancy playing a big long game with multiple people, & would rather it just be you & one other person, this game is perfect for you!
Now, here are a few that I have not played yet, however heard good things about! These are definitely next on my list to purchase for Friday Night Game Nights!
Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment Game. Ages 13 & up. If you’re into mysteries, & solving problems, this is the game for you. In this box there are a series of clues, in which you need to crack the codes in order to unlock three locks provided. The catch? You only have one hour. Based off of the in person Escape Rooms, I know this game will have you at the edge of your seat until the puzzle is solved!
Sequence. Ages 7 & up. The creators have managed to incorporate cards games, board games, poker, and Connect 4, all into one game. It’s like any strategy game you have ever played, but on steroids (So I’ve heard) The object of the game is to form rows of 5 poker chips on the board by placing the chips on the board spaces corresponding to cards played from your hand. Also, no talking & helping others. This one is for the people who enjoy extremely tough challenges!
Or, if you want to practice mind strengthening games without anyone else, here are my favorites to play solo:
Sudoku. I have loved this game since I was in high school! Sudoku includes multiple difficulties- easy, medium, & difficult. It provides a few numbers in 9×9 square grids, & you must fill the rest out. In each row & column, there can only be one of each number (1-9) per line. If you choose one number incorrectly, it throws the entire game! So choose your numbers carefully!!
The New York Times Crosswords 2018 Day-to-Day Calendar. Crossword puzzles are amazing for strengthening minds! This one is super unique to me because: 1.) Everyone knows the The New York Times puts out the best crossword puzzles. & 2.) They have one crossword for every day in 2018! This means challenging yourself daily, & sharpening your mind consistently!! So cool!
A Rubick’s Cube. If you are looking for something hands on to challenge your mind, you need this. Phew, are these babies tough to solve. However, they have been a worldwide phenomena since the 70’s for a reason. The Rubick’s Cube is a fascinating, & incredibly frustrating puzzle to solve. This may just be one of things I have to add to my bucket list: Solve a Rubick’s Cube!
So thank you for taking the time to read this blog post! If there are any other strategic games that you or your family love, please comment them below! I would love for everyone to encourage each other to consistently keep our minds active, & healthy! We all need to make a little less time lost in our phones, & make a little more time being present, & strengthening our minds!
♡ Valerie Karen.
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