Children are born to be creative geniuses but as we grow older, our creative abilities seem to tarnish…
This effect was succinctly outlined in a recent WEF article titled, “this is the one skill your child needs for the jobs of the future”, by Mirjam Schöning & Christina Witcomb of The Lego Foundation.
“The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking is often cited as an example of how children’s divergent thinking diminishes over time. 98% of children in kindergarten are “creative geniuses” — they can think of endless opportunities of how to use a paper clip.”
“This ability is reduced drastically as children go through the formal schooling system and by age 25, only 3% remain creative geniuses.”
During life, we are exposed to different environments, experiences and never ending new concepts/ideas.
There are tons of inputs entering our brain all the time. Our brains are constantly trying to process and make sense of all this complex stimulus.
Our brain filters out an extraordinary amount of information so that we are left with only the ‘important inputs’ or at least, the inputs that your brain considers important in the moment.
Sometimes we become victims to these inputs. We can easily suffer from lazy thinking, over consumption, and a fixed perspective.
That being said, it is entirely possible to change or adjust our mindset.
When we are young we are constantly probing and learning about our enviornment.
Children are sponges soaking up all the information around them, trying to deduce whats important and what isn’t.
Throughout our life we do adopt new worldviews. We do it all the time while we are learning children and
In later life we can adjust our behavior and worldview, but it’s often difficult…
We are predisposed to value instant gratification vs. delayed gratification.
We can quickly fall into bad habits and it’s all too easy to fall into a fixed mindset not conducive to optimal well-being, effective time management or creative engagement.
All of these factors and stimulus are constantly working together to make you do the things you do.
These factors can either make or break our creative potential.
If you want to be more creative, then work to improve your surroundings, scrutinize your creative inputs, and constantly keep trying to expand, refine & redefine your perspective.
The following list is based largely on my own experiences, and also loosely based in scientific & psychological concepts I’ve learned over years of reading and going to school.
Here are some techniques I use to get myself into a creative mindset
The kind of space where ideas come a mile a minute and the entire world seems to rest along a single connected thread… If only I could write it down fast enough.
In between two of the segments she asked me… ”But what would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?”
I said, “Type faster.” — Isaac Asimov
1. Put Someone Else’s Mindset Into Your Mind
Expand your worldview by reading, listening, learning and considering the perspectives of others.
Ponder the knowledge of others.
I like to read a verity of things. Novels, textbooks, articles, non-fiction, fantasy, biographies Sci-Fi, literature, etc, etc. But the kind of books that allow me to feel the most creative are, without a doubt, Non-Fiction books.
That may seem strange to some but allow me to explain. Specifically, I like those academic-type books that explain a complex topic in a thorough and digestible way.
I love these books and owe a lot of my worldview to them.
These books have tangent ideas crisscrossing the pages. Concepts flow through charts & diagrams, jumping easily from subheading to paragraph.
New concepts can slide easily into your open & hungry mind.
This style of book allows me to take specific lessons, ideas, case studies, and perspectives, and jumble them into the wider verity of concepts I’m thinking about.
For me, the result is a creative high.
These kinds of books put me in a head-space that I’m going to call the ‘Big Picture Creative Mindset’. As opposed to a more artistic style of creativity, this kind of exercise allows me to imagine and consider the world in an associational way.
With it, I can imagine practical or realistic things and consider a highly complex scenario. I find it easier to speculate, extrapolate trends, generalize, plan ahead, and come up with big ideas spanning a range of domains.
I often find scientific reviews in my university library and scour them for explanations. Some of these books are filled with fascinating data and profound conclusions.
I read about topics that apply to multiple domains. Topics such as economics, business, investing, marketing, science & occasionally history.
I am able to consider unfamiliar territory because my imagination is being propped up by the people that have been this way before. This is a simple technique that allows me to imagine big ideas and see the world in new ways.
Topics such as science, business, economics, and investing, can be of great interest to me if I am searching for creative input. You may find your ideal creative input in different kinds of work and as such, your perspective will develop according to the domains that you most often think about.
It may seem strange to some, but these hard academic topics work for me because they give me insight into the mindset of people who accurately understand the world — or at least some part of it.
2. Use Similar Image Searches to Trigger Creative Associations
I recently bought into Pinterest and began using it’s ‘similar images’ search feature to stir in myself a creative mindset.
Before Pinterest, I was a huge fan of Google Images and their “similar-images” search feature.
Image association works well for me to inspire new ideas and possible scenarios.
I find searching through a similar-image feature to be a far more organic way of searching for things than the traditional ‘keyword’ searching.
Keyword searching implies that all the results will be very similar. This doesn’t spark a new idea in my brain the same way that image association does.
I use Pinterest or Google to declare an area of interest and by following a thread of related images, I can often find myself deeply immersed a new topic that has very little to do with the original search inquiry.
Images speak a thousand words.
They can display the creative achievements of others and inspire a new creative goal that your brain can use as a reference or destination or work toward.
3. Use an Environment to Extrapolate Creatively
Walk around A Library, Museum, or Somewhere Dense in Knowledge or Inspirational Aesthetic
Moving away from the computer is now an essential part of my creative process. If I’m plugged in all the time I find myself empty of creative spirit.
Much of what we are exposed to online is shared and picked up by minds all over the world. With so many people all reading and consuming many of the same ideas and content, we run the risk of becoming too similar and collectively less creative.
Expand you knowledge pool by seeking out new environments and experiences that inspire you and allow you see the world differently.
Some environments that make me feel creative are:
- Forests / outdoors
- Downtown areas
- Botanical gardens
- Coffee shops
Libraries are perfect for me because the browsing experience in a library can be completely organic and totally random (unlike most of the internet).
There is also something magical about opening a random book you found on a shelf and discovering a piece of information so valuable you never knew how you could’ve lived without it before.
I constantly walk around my University library on the hunt for books that can alter my perspective and inspire me with new ideas. Even if I only read a few chapter headings and some random paragraphs, I am still getting something from the experience.
These randomly found pieces of perspective serve as totally unique creative input that is entirely dependent on the mindset I was in while reading them. This helps make my creative thinking more unique because these inputs are very random so the resulting associations I tend to make with them are multidisciplinary and usually grounded in professional, academic ideas.
This effect can work for me even if I’m not in a so-called ‘learning environment’ such as a library or museum.
I often get a similar ‘creative rush’ while walking through beautiful cities such as Amsterdam, or while walking/ biking through some whimsical agricultural land.
Another area I very much like to explore are forests. The combination of plant life, bird noises, fresh air and walking over dirt, relax me and send me into a happy creative place.
4. Talk to Yourself or Get in a High-Level Conversation with Another Person.
It’s often hard (at first) to find people to talk about your highest creative ideals with. I’m lucky in that I have a few friends which I can talk with freely about my ideas and high-level inspirations.
Though talking with others is great, I believe it’s still essential to also talk with yourself. I find myself doing this a lot while driving — the music is usually quiet and the sounds of traffic can let my mind wander…
During this time, recent ideas come forward and theories solidify themselves as I explain and articulate them more clearly.
Once I’ve talked something through with myself I feel more confident and able to discuss it with other people, write it down, or just generally value its merit.
5. Put away your device.
In our modern age, this is a big one.
I don’t agree with the current proliferation of smartphones, computers and our constant exposure to the internet… I think the entire space is far too unprecedented and unregulated for us to use it properly.
Most online sources of information are driven by a fundamental desire for your time and attention. Companies in this space have a heavy incentive to create platforms that are as psychologically stimulating and addicting as possible…
I’ve written about this topic before and I will continue to write about it with the hope that more people will begin to take the issue seriously.
If you want to be more creative, go offline and explore your day in the ‘traditional’ way.
Work on trying to cut down the amount of time you mindlessly spend on your media device and I guarantee you will see creative benefits immediately.