Creativity isn’t a magical process, and it’s not something that requires innate talent. It’s not something that you’re either born with or born without. It’s simply a mental process, and your brain is perfectly able to engage in it – given the right triggers. This article will show you how to increase your creativity naturally, even if you believe that you are not a creative person.
There are many creative thinking techniques that are designed to make creativity easier. Brainstorming is the classic example, but nowadays there are so many more. Edward DeBono and Michael Michalko have written excellent books that can help you to think outside the box.
But ultimately it’s about a mental process you can’t really force into action. It requires a certain range of mental un-deliberateness. A recent study has shown that people who are actually more creative when they are a bit tired – and neuroscientists believe that this is the case is because some of the brain’s inhibitory processes work less effective when we are tired – inhibition is important when it comes to focussing and attention, but it can also stifle creative thought.
But there is an even better way – after all, you want to be energized and creative, not creative and tired. Hypnosis allows you to lower inhibitory processes and faciliate the free flow of thoughts, making it possible to create unlikely and counterintuitive association that lead to creative insight.
Are intelligent people creative?
Dr. Donald MacKinnon was a psychologist who studied creativity for many decades. He found that highly creative people in fields as diverse as arts, engineering, science, doctors and business were not more intelligent than less creative people. There is no correlation between creativity and intelligence, which is good news: because it shows that anyone can become more creative.
How to “Unlock” Creativity
If you are trying to come up with a creative thought or an innovative solution for a problem, sometimes trying harder is not the right approach. Instead, you need to relax and let go for a while. This allows your subconscious mind to get to work – without interuptions from the judgemental “thought police” of your conscious mind. This could be something as simple as going for a walk and letting your mind wander freely, sleep over a problem or even enjoy a silly Hollywood blockbuster – the most important feature here is to do something that’s relaxing, fun and that takes your mind off of the problem you’ve been focused on so intensly.
One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity. – Edward de Bono
Accidental Creativity: The Barbie Story
Creativity requires what I like to call an element of accident. Think for example about one of the world’s most successful toys: the Barbie doll. Ruth Handler, who came up with the idea, did so on a trip through Germany. She saw a sexy-looking doll in many shops and thought this was a toy for girls. (In reality, it was a doll for naughty men, but she didn’t know that). If you Google “Bild Lilli” you’ll find pictures of her and will find that Barbie is really very similar to that doll.
What’s the point of that story? Well, while you can’t force creative accidents into happening, you can enter a state of altered consciousness which fosters enhanced creativity – and that is what hypnosis is for.
A scientist from Massachusets recently developed another kind of creativity technique ((McCaffrey Develops Toolkit for Boosting Problem-solving Skills, link)) that’s pretty interesting too. Instead of looking at an object the way you usually do (like: this is a bicycle), look at the parts it is made out of.
So in the case of a bicycle, this would mean you identify the parts: a break, a wheel, a rubber tube, and so on.
But then, take away the functional part of the description. For example, the function of a break is to break. But what if we don’t look at it as a break, but instead as a piece of metal, and a metal string, and a rubber block?
Now all of the sudden we have a new set of potential “tools” at our disposal to come up with a new creative idea or solution. For example, we could use the rubber block as a pointing device for a touchscreen, or a doorstop, or as a rubber stamp. The metal string could be used to hold something together, to strangulate someone (although I hope you won’t need to do that), to conduct electricity, and so on. I think this creativity technique should be named The MacGyver Technique (after the 80’s TV show), but Tony McCaffrey, the postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who developed this technique calls it “generic parts technique”.
In studies, the generic parts technique has increased creative problem solving abilities by as much as 67%.
And then of course, there are things like gamestorming:
If you combine techniques like this with a general mindshift which enables you to embrace and indulge in your own creative powers, you can overcome the current limits of imagination and increase your creativity manifold.