Empowering your brain by breaking and rewiring it :)

Lately, GTD and some of my own personal interests (like NLP) got me to study a little bit more about this awesome thing that is our human brain. As nowadays there’s so much talk about imagination, creativity, “thinking outside the box”, etc, I wrote this post to share a few thoughts on the topic.

One interesting aspect of our brain, is its capacity to select/filter information based on how previous experiences, beliefs, expectations and goals. Much of how thinking patterns are conditioned by our habits (and thinking patterns). Great brains exercises are those which break the most common synapses and create new and unusual neuro-connections.

The key is to break routine in order to help your brain cells make new connections; these connections allow new information pathways to be sent and received among the brain cells.
By creating these new connections and breaking common thinking patters you are opening new doors to unusual perspectives, creativity and thinking ouside the box.
I created this list of small tips, actions or ideas for you to experiment with and test with yourself what they make you feel. Many of them will demand that you step out of the so called “comfort zone”, and yes, that might mean “pain” :)
You may noticed that some of this ideas are quick and simple, while others take longer time or repetition and require more effort or planning. Some you can do at home, others not. Some are more physical, other more psychological. I didn’t create any categories to seperate them as that would defeat the purpose of the list itself. You don’t want to put any of this inside any box of pre-conceived ideas, the purpose is to go through them (they are all mixed, by the way), and to have your brain take them randomly without judgements or thinking too much about the what, where, who, how, when…. Just like a good brainstorming, don’t judge anything. You’ll very likely have a couple of more good ideas by reading this ones. And if you do, please share, I’ll be glad to add them to this list. Just drop me a line :)
  • brush your teeth with your left hand
  • put your trousers starting with opposite leg than the one you are used to (you will be amazed on how strange it feels!)
  • take a new route to work, or ride a bicycle
  • walk on opposite side of the road you usually take
  • sleep on the other side of bed (and I mean, head to feet :p) – prepare for a surprise when you wake up!
  • get out of bed with your hands first and your legs last
  • eat in silence – if you are with someone else, use only visual cues to communicate
  • get a different approach to your internal speech – ask different questions: instead of how and what, ask why? go deeper and ask the why of the why
  • greet people in a different way (strangers included)
  • walk bare-foot
  • rearrange your room, office or garage in a totally different way
  • listen to the radio instead of watching tv
  • cook a strange exotic meal
  • use your mouse on the left hand, write with your left hand
  • Step out of your mind and ask questions
    • how would I feel if I was happy?
    • how would I feel if I was not afraid?
    • how would X person do if he/she was here? (replace X with a good model you have, an hero or inspirational person)
  • experiment some new “hands-on” physical activities: painting, sculpting, crafting, lego!, etc…
  • do a night walk
  • turn your phone off, for a day, and experience the new free space that is created
  • be aware of how much you complain, get to transform each complaint into a positive affirmation/suggestion before it leaves your mouth
  • get in the shoes of your “enemy” and try to prove HIS arguments are correct and yours are wrong – there’s loads of benefit in looking at things from different angles
  • whistle some of your favorite songs
  • carry pen and paper and write down all the different smells you can identify. can you improve every day?
  • wake 30min or 1h earlier… what are you going to do with the extra unplanned time?
  • go camping for the weekend (even if you have to set up the tent inside your living room)
  • break a rule
  • ask for the unusual
  • get dressed with your eyes close
  • switch the pockets where you put your keys, handkerchiefs, cell phone, etc
  • handwrite a letter and mail it to someone – yes, the old fashioned paper thing
  • learn a new random word from the dictionary or read a random topic from wikipedia
  • if its raining, don’t take an umbrella
  • ask your kids to tell you a bed time story
  • take a train to a place you don’t know
  • don’t do crosswords puzzles, CREATE a crossword puzzle
  • pay attention to the small details of your own objects… take a macro picture a day and create an album
  • get surrounded by people who are engaged in thinking different… its contagious (the internet is a great place to learn with others, check out the TED Talks, for example)
  • walk backwards (mirrors are allowed :) )

There’s so much more… be aware of your thoughts, your mental pictures, your routines and automatic/unconscious habits… and BREAK them! be spontaneous, don’t think about how to do it, just DO something awkward at the very moment you realize you are doing it, scream, laugh, jump in the pool, change the picture, do or think in something completely ridiculous or funny. You don’t need any logic or reasoning here, what you want is to break what is common, and to do that, any uncommon thing will do.

PS – Yes, I did try most of these myself ;)

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