How to Improve Your Ability to Think Creatively
Without thinking too hard about it, it is pretty clear that thinking in a more creative way could produce significantly better results.
So, let’s give it a go!
Creative thinking techniques can be used to encourage all of us to think in a more productive way. Let’s begin by taking a new look at problems.
Given we have the same hardware the likes of Aristotle and Einstein had available, why not tap into similar techniques they used to produce such remarkable results of such enormous benefit to mankind?
Today we face so many problems of every shape, colour and size.
We seem to be surrounded by the pesky things, and given they refuse to go away, a new thinking style may be a blessing. So, here’s three ideas.
1. Look at New Perspectives
The challenge is to look at a problem in more than one way to generate options which may lead to solutions.
Realistically, we only ever look at a problem in one way, and one way only.
By looking outside the problem a solution may be staring you in the face.
If you understand the structure of a problem, you can restructure it in a different way which may help you to come up with one or more solutions.
The problem itself may undergo metamorphosis and change into a whole new problem!
2. Think Metaphorically
The ability to perceive a resemblance between two separate areas of existence and then link them together is a special gift, but it does take practice.
You can even leave words alone and go ahead and visualize solutions.
Doodle, transform, use diagrams, form the problem in many different ways, create picture perfect possibilities.
Just allow your creative juices to flow and make up a metaphor that seems to represent the problem, and then make up an opposite metaphor, a completely different metaphor.
You can go from stuck to unstuck, for example.
3. Think in Opposites
If you can hold two opposites in your mind at the same time, together, it will suspend your thought, and your mind can move to a new level.
This is a way to get past thinking logically and rationally and instead focus on using other parts of your brain to come up with something powerfully elegant and creative.
New concepts can suddenly emerge to complement the singularity of the way we perceive a problem.
Just go ahead and give yourself permission to think more creatively.
All problems have more than one solution and they are all well within reach.
Get into the habit of thinking up new ways of looking at a problem.
Connect, create, invent and apply.
How to Improve Your Thinking Ability
Are stuck and struggling with a problem, a challenge right now?
Well, if you accept that every problem has one or more solutions, then thinking differently can help you to create the ideal solution.
Let’s discuss a way of doing this.
In the previous part I mentioned the benefit of thinking in opposites.
Here is another way of using this concept when contemplating creative ways of dealing with problems.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so you are all well versed in accepting there is always an opposite to whatever you are thinking, feeling or doing.
Given that life is full of opposites, then all of your ideas, concepts, beliefs, strategies, emotions, behavior, and so on, must have an opposite position.
It is habit that tends to prevent us from thinking differently about a challenging situation.
I tend to suggest that you have many faces, but so do your problems.
Anything without an opposite can be regarded as completely meaningless.
The ability to observe opposites and think in opposites marks a person down as being different, imaginative and creative.
And generally, these attributes lead to solutions, to success.
It comes down to being accomplished at interacting with your environment, by being creative with aspects of your behavior, your skills, your beliefs, and your decision making.
By thinking, feeling and behaving in opposites you will begin to see far more possibilities and force your brain out of its comfort zone.
You just need to be open minded.
Seeing things differently means looking at something backwards, forwards, inside out, and upside down if necessary.
So, here’s a method you can begin to use, and develop further if you wish.
State your problem in reverse by changing a positive statement into a negative one, and a negative statement into a positive statement.
This may sound odd, but you will be amazed at the number of ideas you can quickly assemble.
Try to define what something is NOT.
Figure out what somebody else in a similar situation is not doing.
Can the dimension of the problem be altered?
Are you ignoring it?
Does it require the energy you are devoting to it?
Can it be reframed?
Can it be joined by something else and made into something quite different?
What would somebody you admire do about this?
What could you do that nobody would think of doing?
After each result, conduct a postmortem to learn from your efforts.
Who knows what you may learn if you stay positive!
If something turns out in an unsatisfactory way, make sure you consider the positive aspects of the situation.
Can something good come from what has happened?
Is it really all doom and gloom?
What can you learn and put into place next time?
By getting into the habit of reversing how you think and deal with a problem you will be able to connect, create, invent and apply new and different alternatives to the way you deal with problems.
Surprise yourself! You might begin to create solutions that fit perfectly next time and the following times.
Stimulate Your Thinking Ability
If you find yourself, perhaps on occasions unsure of the steps you may need to take to meet a dream, a goal, a challenge, or even a set of problems, then it will be of considerable help if you could find a way to apply your innate, creative thinking ability to the situation.
Let’s discuss a way of doing this.
What exactly is required to stimulate your thinking?
Interestingly, creativity means having the energy, the focus to seek to solve issues by unorthodox and sometimes, well quite illogical means.
So, it takes a bit of effort, creativity always does.
The more you are used to something, the less stimulating it is for your thinking, for your brain.
If you have a single perception of a situation, you are more likely to handicap yourself, and be forced to settle on one solution, and it may be less than appropriate.
Unfortunately, your brain conditions you into regular, consistent and convenient patterns of thinking.
The brain always takes the quick and easy route.
So you are in your thinking comfort zone most of the time.
However, when you disrupt your thought processes, the ideas that create the greatest stimulus to your thinking cause you to make new connections to better understand a situation.
Now you’re on to something, and it could be special, very special, and it is enormously satisfying.
Your brain begins to sizzle, and like magic, a great idea can instantaneously flourish.
This is a moment of truth, a WOW moment, an unconscious mind moment.
Your brain is ready now to introduce a new pattern of thinking into your armory.
You are becoming more flexible, resourceful and solution-driven.
So, how can you go about virtually disrupting your current thinking, your everyday thinking, to devise new, novel and innovative patterns of thinking?
Well, one way is to program interruptions, thinking interruptions, into your busy day.
First take a look at your habits.
Could you for an agreed, maybe limited time change any of them?
If you’re super bold perhaps you could challenge the whole lot of them!
Go to be earlier, get up earlier, or the reverse.
Keep a notepad next to your bed and write random thoughts for a minute or so.
If you can alter your working hours.
Go to work in a different way, catch the train, drive, get on your bike, walk, get a lift, whatever.
Stop watching the TV programs you normally watch.
Watch something completely different, maybe nature programs, history programs, debates, discussions, and so on.
Or don’t watch at all.
Read a book, for example try a biography of someone you know nothing about.
Experiment with alternative recipes, different food.
Surprise somebody, including yourself, by organizing something radical.
Read a magazine, again of something you know absolutely nothing about.
These ideas are simple stepping stones and lead to an improved way of thinking about almost everything we take for granted and habitually do.
New stimulating, unconscious patterns of thought will quickly emerge.
You will begin to generate a huge number of ideas and some of them will be real gems, golden nuggets.
Always attempt to connect, create, invent and apply new thought processes to produce ideas so you can meet a challenge head on, and remedy any problem you may be wresting with.
Problem? No worries!
You are on the way.
The Power of Creative Thinking
How can you apply the power of your creative thinking to find solutions to problems that refuse to go away?
Here are more examples to make this happen.
I have mentioned Kipling’s six honest serving men previously.
You can use these servants to better serve you.
These servants represent the six basic questions that you can ask yourself.
Kipling six honest serving-men are:
What and Why and When.
And How and Where and Who.
So, when you’ve got a problem, just go ahead and ask yourself six basic questions. Take a look.
What should be done?
Why is it necessary?
When should it be done?
How should it be done?
Where should it be done?
Who should do it?
You could even extend the what question by contemplating what other actions you could take.
This often leads to another an improved, better solution.
You can also think about the problem in reverse given life is, well full of surprises and opposites.
This also uses the what question more creatively.
Just go ahead and consider the opposite actions you could take.
Ask yourself several “WHAT IF” questions.
What if you expand the action?
What if you minimise the action?
What if you personalise the action?
What if you de-personalise the action?
What if you take action right now?
What if you delay taking action right now?
What if you just go ahead and give it your best shot?
Use the HOW question further by altering your environment.
Think about the problem and take it for a walk.
Thinking about the problem and do something unusual.
Just go ahead and alter your perspective by changing your location.
Once you return, get back to the problem and ask yourself:
How do you feel right now about the problem?
How can you now go ahead and solve the problem?
You can use the WHY question to generate possibilities.
Do this by repeatedly asking WHY when you think about the problem.
Do this about three to five times.
For example, let’s just say the problem is considered to be too hard to solve, so the person is not sure what to do.
Why is the problem too difficult to solve?
I haven’t experienced this before.
Why should a new experience be too difficult to solve?
I don’t know what steps to take.
Why not take the first step that occurs to you?
I am not confident this would be the best choice.
Why not just give it a go and see what happens?
I could give it a try I suppose.
Now they can go ahead, or you can go ahead, and consider taking action.
WHY not get into the habit of reversing HOW you think and deal with a problem?
WHAT IF you can connect, create, invent and apply a new way of thinking, a new process to fix, to get a solution?
It may fit perfectly!
Just begin to think more creatively and get out of allowing those problems to consume you, to take up energy it needn’t take.
Dealing With Ideas
The way you deal with ideas and day to day situations will largely depend upon your accumulated experiences.
Generating a wider range of perspectives is seldom practiced.
After all, you don’t fix what you know works.
But this tendency can make some problems seem incredibly daunting, and a solution far too elusive.
Creative thinking can help in this respect, but how?
Though there are several styles of thinking, most of us tend to think reactively or passively about a situation.
The brain directs our thinking according to our experiences.
How have we handled this situation before?
And then we respond mechanically.
Generally this works well, but not for tackling uncertainty.
Habitual thinking whether it is reactive or passive is unlikely to lead to a
To move to a new level requires a quantum leap in thinking.
Now you have already experienced this before.
The task is to make the skill more readily available.
To elegantly discover the best solution to a problem requires having the freedom to think in different styles, taking the opportunity to use your creative power.
Now most problems do not require anything other than a reactive or passive response.
But when you face something really challenging, something that’s difficult, it is an advantage to be able to use different thinking styles and select the most appropriate style and pattern for a given problem and be able to do so with confidence.
One of the challenges when faced with a problem of a certain dimension is to avoid thinking too quickly in terms of how a solution will be applied.
In other words, the brain is several steps ahead and pushes your thinking towards implementing the solution without considering any viable alternative.
In essence it is useful to be adept at exploring and analyzing a situation before deciding the best way forward.
And to be able to do this immediately and intuitively.
And this avoids later regretting your actions.
A drawback to proactive, creative thinking is that it does take time to learn, it does require practice.
It is not the conventional approach to problem solving.
In other words, we rarely bother.
Why should you when generally there’s no need?
It does take time and requires plenty of practice to get into the habit of thinking creatively.
Now cause and effect also plays a hand.
A given situation will cause the brain to quickly engage with the way you normally respond to a situation.
It happens spontaneously, but fails the creativity test.
The task is to be aware of how your brain responds to a challenge.
It is common practice for the brain to jump to conclusions too far too quickly.
We have been unconsciously programmed and we respond to a situation spontaneously, really quickly, it happens real fast.
If cause and effect is dropped, thinking becomes more abstract, and less persuasive.
However, the payoff by analyzing future possibilities can not only change and transform, but it can transcend the current situation.
Developing the thinking to that in terms of contingencies will allow you to explore possibilities and it can even give you fresh, new ideas that can totally change and alter the way you think in any situation that may regularly occur particularly when you face something significantly uncertain.
Being in the habit of generating new ideas using creative, proactive thinking has an enormous payoff
Simply put, breakthrough thinking requires creative thinking.
Reactively or passively thinking does not provide a robust pathway.
The results can be unpredictable, yet worthwhile and occasionally breathtaking and illuminating.
You will be able to connect, create, invent, apply, test, rearrange, adapt and combine all kinds of ideas.
And reverse to get the solution, the best solution, particularly when you are faced with something significant that does require creative thinking and you have difficulty because you haven’t practiced this style of thinking.
Solutions to Difficult Problems
Sometimes a solution to a problem seems a million miles away.
And it can get you down.
Previously I mentioned the benefits of changing your environment to help solve a difficult problem.
I’d like to chat a little more about this.
Here I am on the local beach very close to where I live on a gorgeous autumn day, so I thought I should follow my own advice and pop down here.
I’m really glad I did, it looks absolutely fantastic and I feel great!
Mind you, I may have to ask the water to quieten down just a bit.
The more you are used to something, the less stimulating it is for your brain, for your mind, for your thinking.
When you disrupt a thought pattern, new ideas quickly get formed, quickly get created, and they can provide a tremendous stimulus to your thinking.
And it can be the gateway to making new neural connections and gives you the opportunity to see a difficult situation in a better light, with a different mindset.
It’s almost as if your psychology plays a trick on you and forces you to dream up an out-of-the-blue solution to a problem that has been bothering you and troubling you.
The secret is to be determined to program interruptions into your day.
Easy to say, a challenge to do, although, as you know, there are countless ways of doing this.
But be mindful, once you start you may never stop!
Almost all provocative ideas, ideas that can change your life, stem from an environment and behavioural change.
This act seems to provoke the mind to come up with new ideas and can be a stepping stone to something, well quite surprising.
How can you think differently to find better solutions to everyday problems?
And have this apply to all areas of life, including business.
Take sales, for example.
Why not get out of the office and dream up new ways of increasing your sales?
Perhaps first work you want to think about how you might decrease sales!
What would you have to do?
And this can lead to a better idea, a new idea of how you can increase them.
When something turns out in a disappointing way, alter your routine, change your environment, change your behaviour, then stop and consider what you can learn from the experience.
How might you do it, tackle it next time?
What are the positive aspects?
They will be there, they’re always there.
Look for ways to alter your environment.
Behavioural change will swiftly follow and you can quickly enjoy the benefits.
Enjoy the wonderful view and I’ll give you a quick 360 to see the advantages of changing your environment.
Your Accumulated Experiences
A recent discovery is fascinating.
For any years it was thought that we are born with the number of brain cells we will have, and that’s it.
Any research that came out in support of the idea that brains can create new neurons was ridiculed.
However, researchers realized that the brain could actually heal itself.
After many years of tedious and tough research, it was finally proven that neurogenesis does indeed occur. Here’s some interesting thoughts.
How many ideas are really original?
It is quite valid to imitate other ideas as a preparatory step to original thinking.
Try what all the “great” creators have done: imitate, imitate, imitate.
After you have imitated enough, you will find your preferences shape what you are doing into a distinct style.
Originality is a natural result of sincere creative pursuit.
Isaac Newton said: “If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulder of giants”.
Just as the Beatles started out playing cover tunes, J.S. Bach went blind in his old age copying scores of other musicians for personal study.
Beethoven played on the themes of his time, and jazz musicians insert popular melodies into the middle of bizarre atonal solos.
Ideas are constantly on the move, much to the annoyance of patent & copyright lawyers!
Certainly, ideas may be exploited by the materially minded, just like anything else. But if you truly comprehend an idea, it is yours.
Dean Willian R. Inge said: “What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.”
T. S. Eliot said: The immature poet imitates; the mature poet plagiarizes.
The Power of Association
When people feel overwhelmed with the scale of a problem they will rarely act.
This is particularly true when a problem is seen through statistical eyes – some kind of thinking in numbers.
The desire to act can fade quickly.
Here’s how to inspire people to believe they can get what they want.
Once a person starts to think about something that involves a process with several steps they tend to switch into an analytical mindset.
This means they are far less likely to think emotionally.
The solution is to get a person to think and feel what it would be like to get their outcome.
This requires thinking with emotion, not just logic.
Without engaging emotionally – thinking only with your analytical hat on – the momentum towards doing something will stop in its tracks.
For people to act they need to care.
Caring requires emotional arousal.
To get someone to care about your idea the smart move is to get them to associate your idea with a strong emotion they already have about something else.
This is the power of association.
To get people to subscribe to your idea or message you should inspire them to form an association between what they don’t really care about – your idea initially – with something they do care about – a fantastic memory.
So, you need to know what they care about.
This, essentially, is tapping into their self-interest.
The trick is influence a person to recreate something pleasant from their memory bank and then to transfer it into the present.
This is creative thinking at its best.
How can you find the ideal association to use?
Keep in mind that there is a strong relationship between memory, energy and creativity.
Applying energy to memory produces creativity.
Creativity is generally a process where you combine two elements to create a third.
And it is the third that represents something new, something for the future, something that hasn’t yet happened.
So, before pitching your idea, product or service to an individual you should engage in a smart conversation around significant events in their life.
Get them to talk by showing interest, genuine interest.
The aim is to get them to relive a pleasant memory, an inspirational memory if possible, and then make your association tactfully.
The art requires you know and care about the individual.
It must be a win-win outcome.
You need to engage emotionally and not rely on facts and figures.
Take the time to get to know a person properly before describing the features of an idea, product or service.
Inspire them to imagine something from the past they care about.
The Best Use of Your Brain
Your brain’s creativity is infinite, but what is one of the very best ways to use this remarkable brilliance, a brilliance you already own?
Your brain’s capacity to create is unlimited.
It is only restricted by your imagination.
There goes a magic word – “imagination”.
Once it is joined by another magic word you will have everything your brain needs to produce amazing results.
Any idea what the word is?
You got it, “association”.
You brain functions at its best creative way once you combine imagination and association.
Why is this?
It uses both left-brain and right-brain thinking.
Today, even without our permission we find ourselves engaging with a vast amount of stimulus.
We are all on a kind of a go-go-go merry-go-round, a great big treadmill.
Too busy to think half the time.
Creativity suffers because many people are just too busy and tired.
And to make matters worse coming up with one good idea just isn’t enough any more.
To succeed brilliantly, irrespective of what you do, a constant stream of new ideas is needed.
So, your brain needs to be stimulated to throw off the shackles of everyday pressures, deadlines, meetings, bottom lines and so on, so it can get back to what it can produce: mind-blowing creativity.
To make this happen it is smart to allocate time to a spell (magic word) of creative thinking everyday.
Make everyday a creative experience!
Get your left-brain to organize this!
What’s a good way to start a creativity session?
Begin with a central idea and let your brain form associations.
To become a master at this activity why not give yourself permission to take a 5-minute break every hour or so?
Just make a decision that you will make this activity part of your routine.
Of course, for you there may be better ways than this to get yourself into the right frame of mind for creativity using your incredible brain’s potential, just work something out.
Now make use of imagery, colour, visualization, and imagination to help your brain make associations from your central theme.
You can always add words to the task to satisfy your left-brain.
Make a list if you find yourself having withdrawal symptoms!
The more creative you are, the more success you will probably enjoy.
Why not start making emotional associations between what you do and how people can benefit from it?