Creating a new idea is all about making new connections in the brain. The more we practice making new connections, the better we become at it and the more our brain will be primed to generate new ideas when needed.

People sometimes ask me if the brain can be trained to think more creatively, to get better at making new connections. And yes, it can. There are quite a few exercises you can practice, for example …

1) Word Bonds

Pick two words, write them down, then find one word that connects those two words e.g.

  1. TREE ______ WEDDING
  2. TENT ______ MAGNET
  3. LIGHT ______ PLANT
  4. PRINTER ______ FACE

Potential answers are at the end of this article – stop reading and try this out before you read to the end!

2)  “What-ifs” 

Pick an unusual “what if” scenario and visualize all the things that might happen if it were true (e.g. What if we had three arms? What if bunny rabbits took over Manhattan?)

3)  Object Storming

Pick any object. Give yourself 20 seconds to write down all the different uses you can find for it (e.g.  a sock)

4) Word Associations 

Pick a word. Give yourself 20 seconds to write down all the things that come to mind when you see that word (e.g. “MAILBOX”). If you get stuck quickly, try:

  1.  Listening to the SOUND of the word: what does it evoke (e.g. associations to male?)
  2. Visualizing the word: what does it evoke (e.g. brown trucks?)
  3. Breaking the word down: (“MAIL”, “BOX”)

Just a few minutes a day is fun, free (!), and helps your brain keep making those connections.

Potential answers: 1a) Ring.   1b) Pole.   1c) Bulb.   1d) Toner.    See if you can come up with more!