The first thing we do (or should do) in the morning after a good sleep is to stretch ourselves, extend our bodies and muscles in an outward direction. This helps us to increase our circulation and warm up our body. Continued deliberate stretching helps us to become more limber and flexible.
Stretching our minds can have a similar effect. By extending our thoughts and working through various challenges, like trying something new, reading something a bit more challenging, working through a complicated project or problem or any number of ways that require us to brainstorm, analyze, and think critically is giving our minds an opportunity to stretch and extend its capabilities.
The more we stretch or reach with our minds the more ideas that seem to flow. Entertaining new ideas often brings joy. How does your body feel after it has been stretched, a bit more relaxed? Stretching your mind opens up channels of possibilities when you entertain new thoughts and allow your imagination to expand outward.
Have you ever entertained the idea of other uses of various items, such as a paper clip? This is a simple and easy way to expand and stretch your mind. I enjoy stretching myself as an artist and writer by trying new techniques and introducing different materials to my art and writing that could easily be overlooked by traditionalists, such as using old squashed blueberries as a coloring medium, using junk mail in a collage, or using a graphic organizer/concept map to plan my writing instead of using an outline.
What new things can you introduce into your craft? If you enjoy cooking what ingredients or techniques could you introduce or try? As an athlete, how can you kick your routine up a notch or perhaps you could try your sport in a different venue or add another element to your sport (add resistance, do it in the rain or do it the cold)? If you are a teacher, what other ways can you introduce and practice lessons with your students? Each of us have it in us to stretch ourselves, our skills and our talents. Brainstorm some ideas and then give it a try to see if it brings just a bit more joy into your day.