The Art of Brainstorming – An Essential Life Skill

Posted by: Debbie Grove on October 31, 2011 4:32 pm

So, one of these things is not like the others…….









Image courtesy of Mantas Ruzveltas/ 

It is staggering to think about ALL of the decisions we make over the course of our lives. Sometimes a decision can be life-altering such choosing a partner, a career, a neighbourhood in which to live, and so on. At other times, the decisions we make are intended to help make life go more smoothly on a daily basis.

How we make decisions is an important consideration, ask yourself these questions about your decision-making process:

–   Do I invite others to provide feedback?  Am I open to feedback?

–   Do I ask myself questions about the decision I am making?

–   Do I consider if the decision I am leaning towards will be a healthy decision over the long-term?

–   Do I think far too long about my options?

–   Do I focus only on one possibility?

–   Do I consider the outcome(s) of my decision?

–   Do I reflect on pros, cons, and all the possibilities in-between?

–   Do I set a timeframe for when I would like to have the decision made?

–   Do I make decisions impulsively without considering potential outcomes?

–   Do I have an effective, helpful way to make decisions?

–   Do I have a clear picture of my decision-making history?

Brainstorming – An Essential Life Skill

When we brainstorm, we ask ourselves several questions, sort of like asking yourself the questions above (a mini-brainstorming exercise!). We try to consider alternatives, possibilities, and we attempt to reach outside our comfort zone. Brainstorming is an active process. It can be done individually, in groups, aloud, on paper, and within a counselling session. Brainstorming is purposeful in that the idea is to generate diverse perspectives about a given topic. Open-ended questions can be helpful, e.g., How might that impact…?  What resources do I have available to me now…? When could I begin to takes a first step toward…?

At the same time, to brainstorm is to also be intentional about not setting limits or boundaries early on in the process of brainstorming. Being open, creative, and flexible will help generate ideas. The challenge might be to not leap immediately to solutions and/or the first idea that comes to mind. The Sky’s the Limit – well, sort of. Thinking as big as the sky within what is realistic is not a bad approach.

I often equate brainstorming with learning and discovery exercises such as mind mapping. Check out the following web site for mind mapping tools and resources: I also connect the art of brainstorming with journal writing, doodling, drawing, self-talk, conversations, and walking.  These types of activities help stimulate right brain functions such as divergent thinking and creativity.

So the next time you find yourself stuck trying to make a decision, consider the art of brainstorming.

The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the CCPA. Dr. Debbie Grove is a therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta. To learn more about her, visit her web site at

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

6 comments on “The Art of Brainstorming – An Essential Life Skill”

  1. Thanks for sharing this article.

  2. Enjoyed studying this, very good stuff, appreciate it. “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” by Mother Theresa.

  3. Dear Dr. Debbie Grove,

    I really enjoyed reading your article this morning. I appreciate your take on “Brainstorming.” Your message made me realize how often I use brainstorming. I guess it becomes such a habitual act that we employee it without thought or consideration.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to write such a tantalizing article.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Asa Don Brown

    1. Dear Dr. Asa Don Brown,

      Thank you for your feedback and comments about brainstorming. It’s so true, isn’t it; sometimes when we pause and reflect, we re-awaken a realization about ourselves and increase our mindfulness about something habitual. It’s often that type of reflective learning that can help us expand a tool like brainstorming into other areas of life. Thanks again and happy brainstorming!

      Kind regards,
      Dr. Debbie Grove

  4. Karina says:

    For me, brainstorming means establishing the pros and cons when making a major decision. I had never actually linked walking or doodling to that activity or even thought about engaging in those activities when making an important decision. Now that I think about, it does trigger reflection. Definitely something to keep in mind!

    1. Dear Karina,

      Thanks very much for your comments about brainstorming and how a pro/con list helps you with major decisions. Weighing the two ends of the spectrum certainly can be helpful, and, adding to your post, considering the possible alternatives between the pros and cons might help us come up with a good fit for the final decision too. Thanks again.

      Kind regards,
      Dr. Debbie Grove

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