Creative Thinking 101
Can creative thinking and even spontaneity come from a highly organized approach? Yes! For example, if you watch great comedians closely, you’ll see that they have certain habits of mind. Even the most spontaneous ones get better with practice, because they’re training their brains to find the humor in situations.
In the same way, you can train yourself for more creative thinking. Just start cultivating the right habits in your mind. Why not start training your brain today, with some simple techniques?
Creative Thinking Techniques
Want the mind of a creative inventor? Start redesigning everything you see. Imagine better cars, faster ways to serve food, or better light bulbs. If you do this every day for three weeks, it will become a habit.
Want to be the person who always has something interesting to say? Train yourself to look at things from other perpectives. What would the Buddha say about this? How would a Martian view it? What’s the opposite perspective? The point isn’t to ask others silly questions, but to ask yourself, to see what interesting ideas result. Do this until it is a habit, and you’ll always have something interesting to add to a conversation.
Want systematic creativity in poetry? Put a word on each of 40 cards; 10 nouns, 10 verbs, 10 adjectives, and 10 random words. Shuffle, deal out four cards, and write a 4-line poem using one of the words in each line. My wife has had poems published that were created with this technique. Your mind will find a poetic use for any word if you use this method often.
Solve Problems Creatively
Maybe you’ve heard of problem solving techniques such as “attributes listing,” and “concept combination.” More creative thinking doesn’t come from just knowing these techniques, though. You have to use them until they become a part of your habitual thinking process.
Imagine you want to invent a new bicycle. If you’ve trained your mind in “assumption challenging,” you’ll automatically begin to ask things like, “Are wheels necessary?” “Does it have to go outside?” What if the “bike” was indoors, and pedaling it ran a video screen? You could “steer” through endless different scenes.
You won’t always have great ideas, but you’ll have enough ideas to make it more likely that you’ll find a useful one. This “spontaneous” creativity will be because of your brain training exercise. Why not start developing those habits of creative thinking?