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16 Fun Board Games that Exercise Your Brain And Make You Smarter

16 Fun Board Games that Exercise Your Brain And Make You Smarter

Games are generally considered to be mere entertainment devices. But anybody who knows anything about board games can tell you that the best games are the ones that are both fun and give your brain a workout. This is hardly surprising considering that fellow geeks are generally the ones creating them. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most intelligent and fun board games on the market:

1. Ticket to Ride

Photo Credit: www.orientexpresswriters.wordpress.com

    Number of players: 2-5 people

    Time: 30-60 minutes

    How to play: Players need to collect train car cards to claim railway routes across the map. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come from fulfilling destination tickets that connect distant cities. There are a variety of editions now out, each mapping a different country, continent or area of the world. My favorites are the original USA and Märklin maps, respectively.

    Why it’s fun: The rules the game is not complicated so you can play it with your family and friends of all ages. Also, it’s an exciting game as you have to act quickly so that you can occupy the ideal routes on the map!

    How it’s good for your brain: It’s a game that can train up player’s strategic and logical thinking skills. Also, some of the maps are historical so you can build upon your knowledge of geography in the past and present days by playing the game.

    Rating: 4.8/5 (from 3483 Amazon customers)

    Price: $30.95

    Online version: https://www.daysofwonder.com/online/

    2. Risk

    Photo Credit: www.freshnessmag.com

      Number of players: 2-5 people

      Time: 120-180 minutes

      How to play: Players take turns to use their myriad of army units to attack each other, take over territories and fortify their existing ones. To win in the game, players may also need to form or dissolve alliance with each other strategically to maximaize their occupation of territories.

      Why it’s fun: The game is a great imitation of warfare in which you make all sorts of decisions promptly. It’s pretty hard to predict who is the winner as the game is a combination of strategy and luck. So you need to fight till the last moment to know the result!

      How it’s good for your brain: Risk will definitely give your brain a work out because—like so many other games on this list—it’s all about strategy. It also builds your logical thinking and decision-making skills because everything you do has consequences. As such, the ’cause and effect’ gameplay is highly beneficial to building your intelligence.

      Rating: 4.4/5 (by 113 Amazon customers)

      Price: $19.89

      Online version: http://www.pogo.com/games/risk

      3. Puerto Rico

      Photo Credit: www.ageofgods.com

        Number of players: 3-5 people

        Time: 90 minutes

        How to play: Puerto Rico is a role-playing game. Players take turn to draw a role card, like “traders” and “builders”, and have to take actions appropriate to the role. The one who can make the best use of different roles to gain the most resources to either export goods or construct buildings will be the winner.

        Why it’s fun: There are a variety of ways for you to trump your competitors in the game. You can choose to produce a lot of goods, keep constructing buildings or striking a balance between these two for victory. So you will never feel the same way even you play several rounds of the game in a row!

        How it’s good for your brain: Being a strategy game, Puerto Rico is great for developing your strategic skills. It forces you to think ahead and weigh up the consequences of your decisions. In addition, the game has a fair amount of rules and gameplay that you have to get your head around, which helps strengthen your mental capacity and multi-tasking skills.

        Rating: 4.6/5 (by 398 Amazon customers)

        Price: $29.48

        Online version: https://en.boardgamearena.com/#!gamepanel?game=puertorico

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        4. Carcassonne

          Number of players: 2-5 people

          Time: 15-30 minutes

          How to play: At its core Carcassonne is a game in which players need to place tiles depicting a French landscape. They also have “meeple” that they can use to claim castles, land and roads.

          Why it’s fun: It is a simple game that people of all ages can easily pick up. But to be a master strategist of this game, you need to identify the traps and possible wrong decisions you might make throughout the process.

          How it’s good for your brain: The game requires players to think logically about their decisions, particularly when it comes to meeple placement, as well as to strategize against their fellow players.

          Rating: 4.8/5 (by 298 Amazon customers)

          Price: $49.99

          Online version: http://www.brettspielwelt.de/Spiele/Carcassonne/?nation=en

          5. Pandemic

          Photo Credit: www.digiboardgames.com

            Number of players: 2-4 people

            Time: 60 minutes

            How to play: Unlike other board games, this game requires players to be cooperative instead of competitive. Each player will play the role of dispatcher, medic, scientist, researcher and operations expert respectively. The ultimate goal is to find out the cures before the four deadly diseases break out in the world.

            Why it’s fun: It is a difficult game. Players can hardly find out the cures successfully in the first few attempts. But it is an interesting experience for you and your family and friends to put your heads together to figure out something intellectually challenging.

            How it’s good for your brain: As well as helping you to build your problem-solving and strategic skills, Pandemic teaches players teamwork and cooperation. This may not sound like a way to make you smarter, but interpersonal skills and the ability to cooperate and compromise are imperative to most jobs in the real world. Overlooking social-skill builders isn’t particularly intelligent.

            Rating: 4.8/5 (by 1941 Amazon customers)

            Price: $27.02

            Online version: http://www.addictinggames.com/strategy-games/pandemic2.jsp

            6. Chronology

            Photo Credit: www.amazon.com

              Number of players: 2-8 people

              Time: 120 minutes

              How to play: The aim of the game is to be the first to collect 10 timeline cards, each of which contains an historical event and the year in which it occurred. During your turn, you take a new card and put it in the correct chronological position within your own timeline. If you are correct, you keep the card. If you’re wrong, the next player can attempt to place it in their timeline.

              Why it’s fun: The level of difficulty of this game will increase as it progresses as the time gaps between historical events narrow. So it is a game with implicit time constraint – the earlier you get more cards put in the right chronological order the better!

              How it’s good for your brain: 

              Rating: 4.7/5 (by 147 Amazon customers)

              Price: $17.24

              7. Dixit

              Photo Credit: www.escapadedirect.com

                Number of players: 3-6 people

                Time: 30-60 minutes

                How to play: Dixit requires players to take turns being the Storyteller, who then makes up a sentence about one of the cards in their hand. Other players then select a card from their hands that they think best matches the aforementioned sentence. The cards are then shuffled, displayed face up and players have to decide which was the Storyteller’s.

                Why it’s fun: You will keep being surprised by how vague the cards you hold. And it is fun to hear how other players tell stories through the vague cards they hold!

                How it’s good for your brain: You have to be creative and original with your explanations and card choices, as well as make sometimes difficult decisions. As such, you’re required to utilize both the right and left sides of your brain. In addition, the game also requires you to read other people, which helps to build your emotional intelligence.

                Rating: 4.6/5 (by 685 Amazon customers)

                Price: $24.97

                Online version: http://www.boiteajeux.net/jeux/dix/dix_aide_en.php

                8. Guillotine

                  Number of players: 2-5 people

                  Time: 30 minutes

                  How to play: Players need to draw two decks of card, which are “nobles” and “actions”. Sending the nobles cards to the guillotine is how players can gain points. But with the actions cards, players can disrupt the order and even steal cards from each other and make the result unpredictable.

                  Why it’s fun: Despite being a relatively light-hearted game (regardless of the macabre topic) players need to use their cunning and strategy skills to try and execute the most people. Charming, I know.

                  How it’s good for your brain: 

                  Rating: 4.7/5 (by 587 Amazon customers)

                  Price: $11.99

                  9. Telestrations

                    Number of players: 8 people

                    Time: 60 minutes

                    How to play: Each player gets a card with a secret word and draw something to represent the word on their sketch book. Then they pass their book to the player on the left and they need to guess what is drawn on the book they receive. This process rotates for several rounds. When everyone gets back their own book, they can see how things change created by miscommunication.

                    Why it’s fun: You and your family and friends can’t help laughing when you compare how the last picture can be different from the original one.

                    How it’s good for your brain: This game is a great boost of your creativity as you need to make use of your imagination power to describe some difficult and vague words shown on the cards and guess what others are drawing.

                    Rating: 4.8/5 (by 1526 Amazon customers)

                    Price: $24.29

                    10. Power Grid

                    Photo Credit: www.themineshaftgap.com

                      Number of players: 2-6 people

                      Time: 60 minutes

                      How to play: The aim of Power Grid is to supply power to the most cities. To do this you mark preexisting routes between cities for connection, and then bid against each other to purchase the power plants. You must also acquire raw materials to power these plants. Problems may arise if you expand too fast and miss out on new technology.

                      Why it’s fun: How it’s good for your brain: the game requires you to weigh up options logically and strategically, as well as deal with the potential fallouts of your decisions. This makes it a beneficial game for people like me who find it difficult thinking even a single step ahead and deduce that the best course of action is: “BUY EVERYTHING NOW, YOLOLOL

                      Rating: 4.7/5 (by 332 Amazon customers)

                      Price: $31.57

                      Online version: http://www.brettspielwelt.de/Spiele/Funkenschlag/?nation=en

                      11. Agricola

                      Photo Credit: www.vendetta-gaming.com.au

                        Number of players: 2-5 people

                        Time: 120 minutes

                        How to play: In Agricola you’re a farmer who’s responsible for feeding your family as well as building and expanding your land. You will lose in the game if you have trouble feeding your family so you need to compete with time and produce as many foods as possible in the game.

                        Why it’s fun: The complexity of the game makes you feel like you’re running a real farm, and variables that can affect the result keep coming out throughout the process.

                        How it’s good for your brain: The game is actually quite complex and requires a great deal of strategic planning and resource juggling for you to be successful. This makes it great for logical thinking and building problem-solving skills. In addition, it will help you to learn to multi-task and think ahead.

                        Rating: 4.6/5 (by 528 Amazon customers)

                        Price: $43

                        Online version: http://playagricola.com/Agricola/Board1/Agricola.html

                        12. Dohdles! What’s that?!

                          Number of players: 3-6 people

                          Time: 60 minutes

                          How to play: Players sculpt the shape of an object or a living thing with the modeling clay and need to guess what the Dohdles other players make represent.

                          Why it’s fun: It’s interesting to see how the imagination of you and your loved ones are demonstrated through their “masterpieces”!

                          How it’s good for your brain: This game is good exercise of your imagination.

                          Rating: 4.2/5 (by 42 Amazon customers)

                          Price: $26.5

                          13. Twixt

                            Numbers of Players: 2 people

                            Time: 30 Mintues

                            How to Play: Two players take turn in placing their pegs in any vacant holes on the board and you can add or remove your own links between pegs. Each of the member tries to block the other player from connecting one’s two sides of row and the first one who did will win.

                            Why it’s fun? It is easy to understand and could be play by kinds from 11-12 and it does not take much time, perfect for those who get boring easily.

                            How it’s good to your brain? This helps improves your logical and strategic skills as you would have to think about how every move will be and should be connected  from the start of the game.

                            Ratings: 4.5/5 (from 47 Amazon customers)

                            Price: $29.99

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                            Online Version: http://twixtlive.com/Play.aspx

                            14. Diplomacy  

                              Numbers of Players: 2-7 people

                              Time: 360 minutes

                              How to Play: Every player represents the seven European countries, and are required to use their armies and fleets to conquer as many European countries as possible.

                              Why it’s fun? The game involves a lot of history and geography about Europe and players will have to decide for themselves to trust or to lie before the start of or in a war.

                              How it’s good to your brain? It is not difficult to know how to play the game and it requires one’s logical and strategic skills as well in order to form possible alliances with other countries etc to train their own thinking before making any move.

                              Ratings: 4.5/5 (from 128 Amazon customers)

                              Price: $29.99

                              Online Version: http://www.playdiplomacy.com/

                              15. Mythos

                                Numbers of Players: 1-10 people

                                Time: 45 minutes

                                How to Play: You are the investigators who need to complete the story of a crime without oing insane. You draw 13 cards from 52 cards and stock your deck with at least 20 points of stories. When you completed the tasks required for a card, you gain points for ‘sanity’ and than when cards ran out, you come out and draw 13 cards more.

                                Why it’s fun? It is a story investigation which might easily trigger players’ interests and opponents can actually intervene with their moves making the game very interactive and fun.

                                How it’s good to your brain? One would have to use their logical skills to guess out the story of the crime and think of the ways to intervene their moves to keep them from winning.

                                Ratings: 4/5 (from 6 Amazon customers)

                                Price: $45

                                Online Version: http://www.riseofmythos.com/

                                16. Squad Leaders

                                  Numbers of Players: 2 people

                                  Time: 60 minutes

                                  How to Play: You are the leader of a squad in WWI who needs to make instant decisions regarding on the life and deaths of numerous of soldiers

                                  Why it’s fun? It portrays the days back in WWII and one might be able to experience the intensity and difficulties in being a leader in the army back then

                                  How it’s good to your brain? It is not an easy game and requires a lot of thinking from the player as he or she will need to consider about the rules for morale, leadership, demo changes and smoke etc

                                  Ratings: 4/5 (from 4 Amazon costumers)

                                  Price: $27.99

                                  Online Version: http://www.battle-board.com/minisl/

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                                  Tegan Jones

                                  Tegan is a passionate journalist, writer and editor. She writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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                                  Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                                  How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                  How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

                                  Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                                  Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

                                  I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                                  You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                                  Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                                  When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                                  I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                                  Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                                  Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                                  Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                                  1. The Inner Critic

                                  This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

                                  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                                  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                                  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                                  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                                  The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                                  Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                                  2. The Worrier

                                  This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                                  The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

                                  3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                                  This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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                                  This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                                  The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                                  4. The Sleep Depriver

                                  This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                                  The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

                                  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                                  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                                  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                                  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                                  How can you control these squatters?

                                  How to Master Your Mind

                                  You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                                  Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                                  There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                                  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                                  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                                  This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                                  The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                                  Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                                  For the Inner Critic

                                  When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                                  You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                                  For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

                                  You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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                                  “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                                  If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                                  • They rile up the Worrier.
                                  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                                  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                                  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                                  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

                                  Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                                  Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                                  For the Worrier

                                  Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                                  Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                                  You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                                  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                                  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                  • Muscles tense

                                  Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                                  If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                                  Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                                  “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                                  Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                                  If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                                  Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

                                  Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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                                  For example:

                                  If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                                  “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                                  Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                                  “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                                  Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                                  For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                                  Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                                  The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                                  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                                  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                                  • Muscles tension

                                  I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                                  Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                                  Breathe in through your nose:

                                  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                                  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                                  • Focus on your belly rising.

                                  Breathe out through your nose:

                                  • Feel your lungs emptying.
                                  • Focus on your belly falling.
                                  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                                  Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                                  Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

                                  One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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                                  Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                                  For the Sleep Depriver

                                  (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                                  I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                                  Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                                  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                                  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                                  When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                                  From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                                  For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                                  If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                                  You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                                  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                                  • Shut down your thinking.
                                  • Calm your feelings.
                                  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                                  The Bottom Line

                                  Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                                  You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                                  Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                                  More About Mental Strength

                                  Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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