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Creative thinking without thinking

Posted Oct 30 2013 7:48pm

Much of the Talent Development Resources series of sites is about thinking: exploring perspectives and ideas that can help us make more sense of how we operate, and be more fully conscious and creative.

But in his stimulating book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking , Malcolm Gladwell writes about “rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye.

“When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions,” he says.

Gladwell contrasts this with intuition , which he thinks is “a concept we use to describe emotional reactions, gut feelings – thoughts and impressions that don’t seem entirely rational.

“But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is perfectly rational. It’s thinking — it’s just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with ‘thinking.’ ”

But what about rational thought and developing creative ideas?

In his article Let Your Unconscious Mind Go to Work for You , David J. Pollay quotes University of Amsterdam research that “unconscious thinkers made better decisions than conscious thinkers or immediate choosers.”

Pollay notes, “Most of us report that our most creative ideas come to us when we’re exercising, reading a thought-provoking book, praying, meditating, doing laundry, playing with our children, sitting on a plane, driving a car, or when we wake up in the morning.”

Mujer angelMaybe we could benefit from cutting down on unessential rational thinking.

Sculptor Louise Nevelson said when she taught art, she had her students “clean their minds, to take that mind and polish it daily, to throw out what they don’t need and not to clutter it.

“Don’t remember every telephone number, don’t remember every address, don’t remember every name.

“Keep it open and keep it empty, so that when you see something, you see it totally.”

[From the book: Art Talk : Conversations with 15 Women Artists by Cindy Nemser.]

[Quote from the page ]

Or maybe we can just go somewhere that would encourage no-thinking.

The image above is “Mujer angel” (Angel woman) by Graciela Iturbide: “a Seri Indian woman walks into the Sonoran Desert, boom box in hand.” [From the page Photography 3 ].

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