Here is a common scenario in my life- Go out to eat with a group of friends. Everyone eats different dishes. Some people drink and others don’t. Then the bill comes and chaos ensues as everyone tries to mentally calculate the share that they owe. Ultimately, we all fail to come up with the mental calculation and someone breaks out the smart phone calculator.
At the end of the day, this problem is not a large threat to humanity. We’re lucky to have this technology and make calculations in a quick and easy way.
BUT, I’m tired of failing at these simple calculations. And really, after learning a few tricks, and a little practice, these problems are very simple. Unfortunately, in school they forgot to teach us a lot of the useful information for solving problems. We learned the long and tedious way of calculating numbers, for all of those situations when we have a pad of paper and a notebook with us. Oh yeah, those situations never occur. Fortunately, we do have smart phones. The thing is, almost all of the problems you will encounter in your daily life, you can solve in your head much faster than the time it takes you to bust out your phone. And you will amaze your friends along the way.
Throughout school, I was never bad at math. I made decent grades, but I always seemed to fail when it came to solving real-world problems. When asked to do any calculations in my head, I freeze up, and always have to return to my trusty smart phone calculator.
Most of us aren’t doing advanced calculus in the real world, we’re just dealing with the basics. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I want to learn the tricks to make my life simpler and stop relying on calculators for simple calculations.
I’m not talking about learning basic times tables either. You can learn to mentally calculate problems that at first glance look difficult, but can be broken down into simple calculations.
Over the next 30 days, I’m going to be learning some of the tricks to make these mental calculations. I’ll be starting off my journey by reading Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks, by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer. This book has everything to get me started in my pursuit of mental math excellence.
One of the things I do at the beginning of my 30 day experiment is set an end goal. For this end goal, I simply want to be able to go out to eat with a bunch of friends, calculate everything in my head, and come up with an answer faster than anyone can break out the calculator.
Side Goal: Learn some cool party tricks, such as calculating the day of the week for any date in history.
Dinner party calculations and party tricks are great, but what are the REAL benefits of improving mental math?
Get Things Done Faster
Almost any problem that you encounter during your daily life can be solved in your head. There is no need to go running for the calculator every time you need to add a couple numbers together. You don’t need to have the brain of Einstein to add 3 digit numbers together. The methods for breaking down seemingly difficult problems are so simple that you will kick yourself for not having thought of it yourself.
Math is one of those things that most people claim they cannot do. Therefore, anyone that can do math looks like a genius. Whether you use these skills to just impress your friends, or you use these techniques to impress professors, clients, or business associates, mental math is a skill that anyone can learn and is certain to impress.
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