Ideas have the power to change the world and impact the lives of billions of people.
Uber and Airbnb are some modern-day examples of the power of great ideas and how they can revolutionise the world.
Coming up with great creative ideas and solutions need not be difficult. It can be something as simple as exposing yourself to certain stimuli or engaging in certain easy-to-do activities.
Here are 7 extremely simple yet powerful ways to think better and generate creative ideas and solutions.
Take a shower
The next time you are looking for a creative solution to a problem, you may want to consider jumping in for a shower.
Now that may sound like a silly thing to do, but plenty of research suggests that taking a shower may be one of the best way to generate ideas.
A survey conducted by cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman found that 72 percent of people get their best ideas in the shower. 14 percent said they take showers for the purpose of generating new thoughts and insights.
It’s even advocated by Hollywood writer and director Woody Allen who jumps in for long hot shower to generate creative ideas for his scripts.
Getting ideas for new blog posts or for an article I am already working on is something I have experienced plenty of times myself while I am in the shower.
These ideas tend to appear suddenly unannounced when I am not consciously thinking about them. And I’ve learned to keep my phone or a pen and paper close by because these ideas tend to disappear as quickly as they come.
Be in the presence of nature
Many authors, poets and artists have drawn inspiration directly from nature for millenniums, and today plenty of studies have found evidence that being in nature can improve our cognitive functioning and creativity.
A research published in British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking in a city park or any green space for as little as 25 minutes is enough to give your brain a rest and boost cognitive functioning.
However, you needn’t worry if you are unable to find yourself in a natural setting as even keeping houseplants next to you can make you more creative.
According to a study conducted by Texas A&M University, plants can boost creativity by 15% or more within the workplace.
Evolutionary psychologists have theorised that when our ancestors found themselves surrounded by foliage and trees, it often meant being near various food sources. This helped them to feel calmer and less worried about their next meal allowing them to feel more happy and more creative.
Another possible explanation to increased creativity in the presence of plants may also be because the colour green increases our creative output. In one study, German researchers had subjects glance at certain colours for two seconds before doing a creative task. They found that the colour green boosted people’s creative output more than other colours, including white, grey, red, and blue.
Harness the power of music
Studies say that creativity occurs when both hemispheres of the brain are working together.
And this is what exactly happens when we listen to music, and it’s one of the few activities that stimulate both sides of the brain.
Of course, not all music may be helpful, and some can be distracting and even be an obstacle to creativity. The benefit of increased creativity was observed by researches among people who were exposed to happy or uplifting music.
I use ambient or instrumental music to help me write and I find it tremendously helpful to tune out distractions, concentrate and to think better. Listening to certain kinds of music or sounds puts me in a calm and relaxed state, which is helpful to think better and be more creative.
Ideally, you want to use music with a slow tempo without having any vocals whatsoever since that can be very distracting and make it hard to maintain focus.
Some of the music I love to listen to while writing include ambient music, slow jazz, binaural beats, Solfeggio frequencies.
Take a walk
Steve Job’s technique for unleashing his creativity was nothing more complicated than taking long walks.
He was very fond of taking long walks and was known to do much of his creative thinking while taking a walk. He also had the habit of regularly holding brainstorming meetings with people while walking.
Organs like your brain, heart and lungs function better when you are walking as opposed to sitting down. Walking increases blood flow to the brain and improves cognitive functioning.
According to research from Stanford University, walking boosts creative thinking by an average of 60 percent !
Freewriting is a tool that is generally used by writers that’s great for generating creative insights and ideas.
It involves writing continuously without stopping for a specific period of time or for a certain number of pages, whether that is for 15 minutes or 3 pages.
While free writing write as fast as you can without judging or filtering any of the thoughts are coming into your head.
You don’t need to be bothered about your spellings or any grammatical errors. And most importantly, don’t edit while you are writing; you can always do that later.
Suppose you want to generate creative ideas surrounding a certain topic or a subject, while writing you are likely to stop once you have written everything you already know about the subject.
But the key here is to keep on writing and push through the urge to stop and to force yourself to keep on going.
And this is often when the magic starts to happen. You may suddenly find yourself in a thrilling new territory where you are suddenly coming up with ideas you have never seen or heard about before.
When it comes to freewriting, patience and persistence are necessary. These insights may not always come in your first writing session, so the key is to repeat until you have gotten what you need.
Daydreaming is usually seen as a bad thing, but studies suggest that it can help us to significantly boost our creativity.
While I wouldn’t suggest daydreaming between tasks, setting aside time to let your mind relax and wander can prove to be very helpful in enhancing your creative output.
I love spending time in solitude doing nothing but simply walking in the balcony on my floor daily, where I drift between a state of daydreaming and wakefulness.
In this state, I allow my mind to relax and wander freely, and this can result in seeing things from a completely different and larger perspective. And this is especially great for coming up with creative ideas and insights.
While day dreaming might have been a natural part of everyone’s lives not so long ago, today with smartphones or devices grabbing most people’s free time, it’s not something many engage in.
If you are serious about coming up with creative ideas, setting aside time to daydream daily is something I highly recommend since it’s not only powerful but also interesting and relaxing at the same time. It also serves as a welcome break from being constantly occupied in some task or the other.
Tap into the power of your subconscious mind
R.L Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island used this powerful technique to write his books.
Before he went to sleep, he would request his subconscious to provide him with stories while he slept. It is said that he had the habit of asking his subconscious to give him a good, marketable thriller when his bank account was low. Stevenson said that this intelligence gave him the story piece by piece, like a serial in his dreams.
Even the inventor Thomas Alva Edison had the habit of tapping into his subconscious mind for creating new inventions and is quoted as saying "never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”
Here is a simple process you can use to uncover answers from your subconscious
Ask your subconscious mind a question as you are drifting off to sleep.
Believe and have faith that you will receive an answer
As soon as you wake up note down whatever you see in your dream into a book OR Keep a lookout for answers in your waking life as you go about your day
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get an answer with your first try. The intelligence of the subconscious mind can be accessed by anyone, therefore as with freewriting, be patient and persistent. You can use this method for generating creative insights as well for guidance in your daily life.
I was caught in two minds when it came to starting this blog, and I decided to ask for a sign to see whether I should go ahead and start blogging. While I didn’t receive any signs on my first day of asking, I received a couple of signs on the morning of the second day which made me decide to go ahead and start the blog you are reading now.
A couple of bonus tips I’d like to add when it comes to increasing your creativity is to become more aware of what you are thinking and to develop the habit of noting down your ideas whether on the phone or a paper.
The key to generating creative ideas lies in getting your mind to relax rather than trying to force yourself to think too hard. And many of the techniques listed above can be very effective because they can put you in a relaxed state.
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