How to Increase IQ
Brain Exercises

Benefits of Meditation
Mental Math

Riddles and Puzzles
Lateral Thinking

Three New Thinking Games

The following are games and exercises that will help you develop your thinking skills. Other mental games exercise memory, or test knowledge (usually in the form of trivia), and they are certainly good for your brainpower. These, however, require analysis, creativity and imagination.

Theoretically, all of the following can be played alone, but try to get a friend or two to join you. The interaction of two or more minds helps you generate more ideas gets you thinking in new ways. With no clear "winners," these are not truly competitive games, but they are fun.

An Imagination Game

This is a simple exercise in imagination that you can do anywhere. One of you invents a survival situation, perhaps a plane crash in the mountains or a boat lost at sea. Specify a few details like time of year, weather, and maybe the fact that there will be no rescue for at least a week or two. Each player then considers everything that he or she is wearing or carrying at the moment, and tries to think of ways to use each thing in that survival situation.

See who has the most original and plausible ideas. A paper clip could become a fish hook, or a needle for sewing together warm clothing from airplane seat covers. Water could be boiled in a hat by dropping heated stones in it. A pen casing could be a straw for drinking from coconuts. Alternately, you can choose just one object at a time from any in the room and have everyone try to think of uses for it in the given survival situation. This is a real exercise in creativity and imagination.

The Power of Perspective

Find something you and a friend disagree on. This can be about politics, philosophy, law, economics, or any issue that is complex enough that reasonable people have differing views. Now "switch sides," and make your best arguments for the other person's position. See who has the best argument. An alternative is to find any issue that you agree on, and both make your best arguments for the opposing view.

You may notice that this little debating game changes how you think about an issue. It is difficult to effectively argue for anything and not start to believe some of your arguments. This shows how powerful your mind is. Once it adopts a certain perspective, it can usually make sense of it quickly. However, this exercise also serves as a warning, because it suggests that if we can convince ourselves of almost anything, perhaps our current thinking isn't as rational as we believe.

The Make-a-Joke Game

This one will really get you thinking, and possibly laughing, but it also can be very frustrating game. Simply have someone choose any object in the room. Each player then has to come up with a joke about it or involving it. Have a reasonable time limit (maybe five minutes), and see who can create the funniest joke.

This is more difficult than it may seem, but it will really exercise your lateral thinking abilities. For the sake of this article, I just chose the calendar on my wall as my random object. Four minutes later, this is all I've got: My friend was tired of winter, so he tore January out of the calendar and pasted July in its place. A few days later I asked him how that worked out for him, and he told me "I just can't get a break. Who would have thought it would snow on July fourth!" (I had another one about the guy who was in love with the calendar because he could always get a date with it.)

As I said, creating truly funny jokes is tough, but it will get you thinking. As with all these games, there are other versions. You can start with ideas or issues instead of objects, for example, or you can specify that you have to create a funny riddle. There are humor "algorithms" by the way, which will help you with this. You can learn more about those on the page: Writing Jokes and Riddles.


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