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
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
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.