Creative thinking may seem a bit pie-in-the-sky for some, but with practice and commitment, it’s learnable.
In every facet of our lives, creativity comes into play. Although some people are primed to be more creative than others, every person is born with a level of creative skill. All it takes is training.
Laugh. Ha-ha, get a load of this! Yup, laughing is A-OK because it boosts activity in the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex. Meaning: better mood equals better thinking.
Love. Not only does it make the world go round, but that loving feeling releases the feel-good oxytocin hormone – priming your brain for creative solutions.
Be curious. If something tickles your fancy, examine it and do your research. These are the building blocks of great things to come.
Invite conversations. Make a point of engaging people from all walks of life in chit-chat. Every single person has a story to tell and insights to share. You never know when these stories and insights will prove useful.
Be adventurous. The spirit of adventure increases both cognitive flexibility and depth of thought. It’s about new sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and sights. All these spark different synapses in your brain, helping with some rewiring of the grey matter.
Enjoy nature. By spending time in natural surroundings, you’ll experience a shift in time perception. Instead of feeling pressured by time, or the lack thereof, you’ll enjoy ‘time abundance’ to ignite your creative genius.
Day-dream. This gives you the outlet to reach for the stars.
Write. Writing sharpens the mind. Even if you write for your eyes only, start doing it daily. The topic isn’t even important. Kick off with ruminations of half-a-page and gradually increase it to a page a day.
Expand your knowledge. Read up on new topics: from farming and pharmaceuticals to music and art.
Sleep. Like all cognitive functions, creative thinking is significantly impaired by sleep deprivation. Make sure you get a dose of eight hours in slumberland every night.
Constrain yourself. By limiting yourself, you’ll become more resourceful. A case in point is artists who sometimes use small canvases to create better large-scale designs.
Think positively. We all tend to be sharper when happy. Conversely, sadness and depression lead to restrictive thinking.
Organise. Collect and collate your experiences and findings.
Work hard. Creativity is a hard act. Work at a sustainable pace.
De Bono’s hats
The late Dr Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats are well-known. The white hat states facts and information; the Yellow Hat looks at the bright side, adding value and benefits; the Red Hat expresses feelings and emotions; the Blue Hat examines the bigger picture; the Green Hat explores new ideas and solutions; and the Black Hat is realistic and practical. When combined, these hats allow your mind to think clearly and objectively.
Accordingly, train your mind to switch directions from one hat to another to solve problems creatively and efficiently.
There’s hardly ever a eureka moment in creative thinking. It’s a process requiring commitment in mind, body and soul.