Today is the last day of the World Creativity and Innovation Week (WCIW). During World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15 – 21) people are acknowledged, informed, inspired and encouraged to use their creativity – to be open to and generate new ideas, to be open to and make new decisions and to be open to and take new actions – that make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too.
The importance of creative thinking today needs no emphasis. In your profession or sphere of work you will have a competitive advantage if you develop your abilty to come up with new ideas. In your personal life too, creative thinking can lead you into new paths of creative activity. It can enrich your life – though not always in the way you expect.
Below are a few everyday ideas you can imbibe to enhance your level of creativity. John Adair in his book “The Art of Creative Thinking shared a number of interesting thoughts… Here are a few:
READING TO GENERATE IDEAS: The use of reading is to aid us to think- Edward Gibbon
For many people, reading and researching is more a device for avoiding thought rather than as an aid to it. But reading for diversion or entertainment, or reading merely for information, is different from reading for idea generation. What kinds of reading will develop your creative imagination?
Good fiction may come high on your list. Novelist John Fowles said that the reader of fiction has to take part and do half the work. Take a sentence like ” she walked across the road”. You have to imagine it, so you have freedom. No two people have ever imagined a story told in the same way. It makes for richness in reading, for it involves a communion between author and reader. Therefore prose and poetry will never die.
No good book, any more than powerful words, can do anything decisive if the person concerned is not already prepared through quite invisible influences for a deeper receptivity and absorption. Reading books can stimulate and develop your powers of creative thinking. If nothing else, a good book can put you into a working mood. “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body” wrote Sir Richard Steel. Under the hospitable roof of reading, studying and learning you will also find housed inspiring, kindling and infecting.
KEEP A NOTEBOOK: Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Creative people keep a notebook for recording possible materials for present or future use: ideas, a scrap of conversation, something seen or heard on television or radio, a quotation from an article or book, an observation, a proverb….they write it down!
You probably had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with an idea. It was such a good idea that you told yourself to remember it next morning. But, like the memory of your dreams, it fades fast away. Every composer knows, Hector Berlioz said, “the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one has not had time to write down.” He was speaking from experience. So Keep a pencil and pad by your bed. Carry a pocket notepad so that ideas that strike you while waiting for someone or travelling on a train can be recorded. Later you can transfer these jottings to your main notebook. Keeping a notebook is more than a useful habit: it is a vitally important tool for all creative thinking purposes.
CHANCE FAVOURS ONLY THE PREPARED MIND: Where observation is concerned, chance favours only the prepared mind – Louis Pasteur
What does it mean for you to have a prepared mind? You have to be purposeful in what you are seeking an answer or solution to some problem. You have become exceptionally sensitive to any occurrence that might be relevant to that search. You have the experience to recognise and interpret a clue when you see or hear one. That entails the ability to remain alert and sensitive for the unexpected while watching for the expected. You will have to be willing to invest a good deal of time in fruitless work, for opportunities in the form of significant clues do not come often. In those long hours, experiment with new procedures. Expose yourself to the maximum extent to the possibility of encountering a fortunate accident.
Again, the importance of having an opened mind and a degree of curiosity stands out clearly. You have to constantly ask yourself questions about what is happening around you – and be ready for surprising answers.
MAKE BETTER USE OF YOUR DEPTH MIND: “There is a great deal of unmapped country within us” – English proverb
The fact that the unconscious mind plays a part in decision making, problem solving and creative thinking has been known for some time. This dimension is arguably the most important element in creative thinking. The question is ” have we learned to make better use of our depth mind in order to generate ideas?
The depth of mind has its own capability for analysing, synthesising and valuing. And when it has done its work it sometimes – not unlike a computer – prints out its findings or solutions into our unconsciousness.
Most of us have experienced such products of the depth of mind as intuitions – immediate perceptions of the mind without reasoning – hunches, premonitions and inklings. For creative thinkers, inklings – an intimation of something yet unknown – are especially important, for they may be signals that one is on the right track. It doesn’t require prophetic powers or extra-sensory perception. What happens is that your depth of mind is at work, interpreting natural signs, picking up hints that invade your senses below the conscious threshold, and piecing together the paucity of information in the shape of guesses, hints or clues. Sometimes, for example, there might be feelings of pleasure or excitement that precedes discovery but again indicates that one is groping in the right direction.
According to E M Forster: ” In the creative state, a man is taken out of himself. He lets down as it were a bucket into his subconscious, and draws up something which is normally beyond his reach. He mixes this thing with his normal experiences, and out of the mixture he makes a work of art”
The ability to grow new ideas or whole, is present in all of us in varying degrees. The first step is to understand that your mind does have a depth of mind dimension. With a degree of simple awareness, understanding and skill you can work with its holistic capability of growing ideas as if they were seeds connecting or integrating apparently unrelated materials, creating order out of chaos. Do you need to be skilful at it? YES! because there is an art in knowing when to stand back and let your depth of mind do its work. The depth of mind for example is capable of more than analysis. It can analyse that you may not have known you had taken in, and comparing it with what is filed away in your memory bank.
Life should be an adventure.. It is a usually interesting, occasionally exciting and sometimes painful journey forwards into an unknown future. As you try to make something of it in creative way – working things out as you go along – new ideas will come to you. Even in the desert stretches there are wells of springs of inspiration.