• How Scrabble, Spanish & Napping Can Get You Smart in 2012

Now that we’re almost through January, it seems a good time to take stock of those New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like me, you’re planning to achieve a few goals in 2012. But like me, have you not made much progress?

One of my goals has been to learn Spanish. My high school foreign language elective, Latin, has not been quite has helpful as I had hoped. So my husband bought me a fabulous Spanish learning system. Actually, that was three years ago. It came in a very pretty box. I know because that’s as far as I have gotten. 

So 2012 is the year, right? We’re even planning a South American trip in a couple of years, so I really need to get going on this goal. But sometimes, I think my 30-going-on-40-year-old brain just can’t retain a whole new language.  I mean I’ve always been told you can’t really change your IQ. You are who you are and if I couldn’t learn Spanish in my youth, how could I learn it now?

I recently read a Newsweek/Daily Beast piece that gives me hope.

Apparently you can “buff your brain” into gaining up to 20 points in IQ.

That’s huge! That can take an average person and make them gifted. But it does take work.

Not only should you read and write and keep learning, you should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. That seems to cure a lot of ills. Also, taking mid-day naps were advocated. I’m certainly a fan of that idea.

They also suggest you, among other things,

  • Play word games like Scrabble, Boggle or Words with Friends.
  • Learn to knit (“refining motor ability can bolster cognitive skills”).
  • Drink more water (“dehydration forces the brain to work harder and may dampen its planning ability”).
  • Play an instrument (“learning an instrument boosts IQ and increases activity in parts of the brain controlling memory and coordination”).
  • Write long hand (“brain scans show that handwriting engages more sections of the brain than typing”).
  • Learn a language.

OK. So there you have it. I’m going to lace up my walking shoes for 30 minutes, drink some water — and listen to some Spanish CDs along the way.

Best wishes to you on your 2012 goals!

Donn Dunn looks forward to playing Scrabble when she gets the opportunity, but is pretty inept at knitting.