Do you sometimes find it difficult to think “outside of the box”? Or struggle to come up with even one new idea?
This is something pretty much everyone has experienced from time to time - even people working in highly creative industries, such as music or design. Many people are convinced that they’re just not naturally creative thinkers.
One myth commonly associated with creative people is that they use the right hand side of the brain (associated with emotion and intuition), far more than the left (associated with logical thinking and analysis).
The fact is, everyone has the inherent ability to think creatively. It’s just that some people have actively recognised and nurtured that natural ability to a higher degree. The ability to “think outside the box”, or design something unique, or express feelings and ideas in new and imaginative ways – these are all within your capability. It’s just a question of believing that you can – and going for it!
The trick is to see creativity as a muscle. Like any other muscle, it needs exercising to stay in top condition. And there are literally thousands of techniques out there to help you!
Here are some of our top suggestions:
Try out Edward de Bono’s Six ThinkingHats – This is a famous thinking technique based on six colours, each denoting a different ways of approaching the same issue. The white hat states facts and figures, the red hat states emotions, the green hat encourages new ideas, the black is cautious, the yellow optimistic and positive, and the blue hat has an overview of the whole process. Get the book here>>
Use mind maps – When brainstorming a problem, try using mind maps to open up your thinking. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center of a page, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. This will ensure your ideas just keep growing (rather than being stuck in a linear list)! Mindomo is a great online mind mapping app.
Adopt the mindset of a small child – When tackling a project or problem, develop the curiosity of a small child. Keep asking yourself “Why…?” until you get to undiscovered areas of the problem. This could help open your mind to all sorts of new possibilities. Why? Because… but why? Because… You get the idea!
Try to be positive and see possibilities, rather than dead-ends– This can be a difficult mindset to adopt at first when faced with a challenge. However, seeing limits everywhere is a negative approach and will definitely stifle creativity. In fact optimism is a key ingredient of all creative thinking!
Write down every idea that pops into your head – It doesn’t matter how silly it seems! Writing stuff down means you can go back any time you want and build on each and every possibility. Authors generally swear by this!
Write down your dreams - It’s worth jotting down your dreams when you wake up. Your subconscious is a creative powerhouse! Keep a notepad and pen beside your bed to capture those all important ideas and images before they disappear during the day.
Hit the great outdoors – Spending some time in a peaceful natural setting, away from the relentless bustle of city life, helps your mind relax and open up. This can spark all sorts of new thoughts and ideas.
Practice mind-training exercises and puzzles: There are loads of practical books and other resources out there to help you hone your creative thinking. An excellent starting point is the book Thinkertoys by Michael Mikalko. There are hundreds of mind-teasing exercises in it!
Katherine Cunningham is Editor of Pondera - THE social community for people who love Personal Development.
Pondera is an online environment where people can find personalised content. Rather than trawling through searches and content to find what they need, our community are matched up with ideas, content and experts that are the most beneficial.
Katie is passionately interested in the web and how it influences our lives. She loves being part of something so vibrant and inspirational!