“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” – Edward de Bono
Many people experienced blocks to creative thinking . If you are engaged in work or in an environment that encourages repetitive work for instance, there is no opportunity to be engaged creatively. In the old economy, creative thinking is not considered as important as getting the task on hand done. You are rewarded based on fulfilling numbers, following guidelines and rehashing the old. You do not gain extra points for thinking out-of-the-box.
(Note: Consider reading the book, Linchpin, by marketing genius Seth Godin should you wish to reinvent yourself or risk being laid off in today’s competitive environment.)
And so you are in the habit of keeping your ideas to yourself than risk being laughed at. You may eventually find yourself feeling stifled. Life becomes less interesting when there is no outlet for creativity.
In case you believe otherwise, you have the capacity to think creatively. When you are thinking creatively, you are employing both your left and right brain. You are getting them to work together. You may not have been using much of your right brain but that does not mean that you do not have one. Since you are born with both parts of the brain, then it is within your power and interest to use them effectively.
Creative thinking involves emotional intelligence. It happens when you are also connected with your feelings. Recent studies indicate that the heart is an intelligent organ. You may have been taught that the heart responds to “orders” from the brain. What has been recently found is that the heart sends more signals to the brain than it receives.
In fact, the heart have a significant effect on brain function including memory, problem solving and other cognitive faculties. You can read about these studies from the authority site, HeartMath . You will realize that the heart deserves a lot more of your attention than you have previously given it.
How to Enhance Creative Thinking
1. Avoid Getting Cluttered. When your mind is overly cluttered, it is hard to be creative. You become stuck in limited patterns of thinking. I know this to be true of myself. Whenever I feel bogged down with too many unnecessary details, I know that it is not the best time to be engaged in creative thinking.
Creative thinking usually does not happen when you are in the midst of stress or fear. Hence, learn to relax. When you are relaxed, you are better able to access your creative channels. You are able to reach alpha or theta levels; thus holding the space for creative ideas to drop in.
2. Get Rid Of Lazy Thinking Habits. In the past, I was engaged in lazy thinking habits. I had simply adopted other people’s opinions without question. I did not analyze if they are applicable for me. I had thought that since everyone has the same opinion, then the opinion must be right.
The thing is that lazy thinking patterns can keep you stuck. You lose your authentic voice. You do not allow yourself to explore possibilities.
3. Look for Hidden Meanings. Things aren’t always what they seem at first. I learned this through experience. Many times, I have failed to see accurately because I am trapped in the rush of activities.
So avoid jumping too quickly to conclusions. Look below the surface. Look out for signs, symbols and synchronicities. Hunt for hidden meanings.
4. Acknowledge Your Feelings. Don’t shove your negative emotions aside. Acknowledging these fully allows you the opportunity for release. Do exercises that aid you with connecting with your feelings.
With each event and situation that you encounter, ask yourself what you feel. There are no right or wrong answers. Being in touch with your feelings allows you to come up with heart-centered solutions.
5. Avoid Making Assumptions. Unfortunately, assumptions also lead to lazy thinking. If you adopt faulty assumptions, you are liable to make wrong conclusions or decisions. When you assume, you are thinking in terms of “must” and “should”. You also prevent yourself from considering new possibilities.
Learn to challenge your own assumptions. Avoid letting fear overwhelm your judgment. Ask what will happen if you let go of a certain assumption.
6. See The Details As Well As The Big Picture. You are not able to gain a big picture perspective when you become too bogged down by details. On the other hand, if you miss out in studying the details, you may miss out important information that can help you better understand relationships.
It is important to strike a balance. Creative thinking is enhanced when you are able to see the details as well as the big picture. The solution that you come up with is usually all encompassing, with creative thinking.
7. Be Child-like. I learn from my kids what it means to be open, curious and imaginative. It is easy to be child-like when you are around children. They can come up with the darkest ideas and things to say or do. With fewer inhibitions, they demonstrate an enviable freedom to explore.
Research shows that the number of synapses, or connections, in the brain is greater in a child of two than in an average adult. The reason for this is that a child of two has no limiting world view, as adults we do. See yourself as a child once again when you need to brainstorm or come up with solutions. You may just be amazed by what you can come up with.
8. Engage in Creative Pursuits. This is a favorite tip of mine. I enjoy being engaged in all kinds of creative pursuits. I come alive when I am in touch with my creative senses. As an Enneagram Personality Type 4, I am operating from home.
Creative pursuits do not even need to be directly related to your work. Hence, paint, sing, draw or dance. Find different ways to express yourself.
9. Allow For Time. I can feel blocked creatively when I allow myself to be hampered by a dateline. However, by giving myself the permission to sit through and revisit the topic over and over again, I find my creative ideas expanding.
While it is important to deliver on your project, rushing through it is not a good idea too. You may just compromise on the quality or standing. You need to allow yourself sufficient space to explore your ideas especially if it is a creative project – rather than a routine task – that you are involved in. Allowing for time does not mean that you do not publish, deliver or ship your product eventually. You still do but you give sufficient time for creativity.
10. Express Your Creative Idea in Different Ways.Sometimes, I may express an idea in different ways such as through drawing, telling a story, acting out the sequence or so on. From a single idea, I find myself getting new insights.
Avoid being in the trap of thinking what you should think. Don’t hold yourself back with fixed ideas. Let loose.
11. Be Willing to Make Mistakes. Desiring to be perfect or produce work that is impeccable can cause you to become paralyzed. I know this too well. You are not able to think clearly as a result.
Give yourself the latitude to make mistakes. After all, everyone who is human make mistakes. Just learn from your mistakes and move on.
12. The Problem May Also be the Solution. Sometimes, a solution lies within the folds of a problem. Take the example of Post-it Notes. 3M chemists were experimenting with adhesives and accidentally came up with one that was so weak you could peel it right back off.
Whenever a problem surfaces, don’t make excuses or find ways to cover it up. Instead, see if you can turn the problem around. Investigate if what is missing can possibly fill a market gap.
13. Avoid Judging. You may have the unconscious habit of judging too quickly. It happens to the vast majority of us. We tend to form opinions based on past information. However, making too quick a judgement can prevent us from being able to access creative solutions.
Hence, learn to suspend your opinions for a while. Give yourself the chance to observe without making a judgment. You may find that you are able to see things from different angles and having a wider perspective on things.
14. Discover the Good in the Bad. Creative thinkers are able to see the good in the bad. They are usually able to offer more ways than one with looking at a situation. They usually do not feel cornered.
Hence, whenever you encounter a situation that looks negative at first, ask yourself if something good is happening at the same time. Look for the gems. By thinking creatively, you are better able to discover deeper insights.
Creativity is an affair of the heart. It involves love, passion and inspiration. And it all starts with self-love .
Use Your Creative Thinking Faculty
The old belief is that we lose vast number of brain cells as we age. However, scientists recently discovered that even into our seventies, our brains continue producing new neurons. Your mental functions are kept intact as you mature. In fact, you may also enjoy the advantage of what forms wisdom.
You will need to keep at stimulating your brain. Performing tasks on a repetitive basis won’t cut it. You will need to use your creative thinking faculty. Your brain can become rusty when you don’t. Just like a bicycle or any other equipment, regular use helps to prevent it from degenerating or malfunctioning. Consistent use of your creative thinking faculty results in optimal functioning.