|Beware: Creative Brainlock!|
Perplexed by a problem? Is the solution eluding you? Are you running out of ideas and just "sick and tired" of thinking so hard that your head hurts?
This is a very common dilemma for people of average to above average intelligence when they cannot immediately 'sense' or 'see' the solution to a perplexing problem. When they focus too long, the problem seems to become more difficult, and all creative thought regarding a solution seems to retreat further and further away. My Braintenance readers have all suffered from this annoying phenomenon at one time or another.
As Human Beings, it is our nature to reach for the solution to any problem through an immediate association with a comparable past situation.
If our ability to recall such an association does not connect fairly immediately, we quickly become frustrated, and this frustration, itself, starts to shut down our informational access (i.e., the databanks become less accessible) and our creative abilities -- we become worried, annoyed and uninspired.
A laser focus on problem-solving is wonderful, but its effectiveness is very short-lived. If it is not rapidly effective, it tends to get you to re-kindle failed ideas...in a fashion, it puts you into a repetitive recycling mode. If your laser beam starts to give you a headache and you find yourself vainly reaching for ideas, there are some definite ways of re-igniting that creative spontaneity which seems to be escaping your laser goggles.
We'll discuss these in a bit, but first you may wish to take a quick skim of this article from BigThink's Daily Ideafeed Newsletter to warm you up. When you've finished, please return to this page and I'll provide you with a proven list of wacky and paradoxical creativity stimulators and problem-solving
CREATIVE PROCESSES - An Article From BigThink's IdeaFeed Newsletter, Sept. 9th
Want to Get Inspired? Do Something Boring.
What's the Latest Development?
Tucking a creative problem away at the back of your mind is not necessarily the best way to come up with novel solutions, suggests new research out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. There, researchers asked three groups of people to tackle problems requiring creative solutions after performing one of three activities: engaging in a concentration-heavy task, doing repetitive tasks that allowed the mind to wander, and taking a short rest that required no mental exertion. They found that those people who had been occupied with a boring task performed best on a standard creativity test known as the Unusual Uses Task.
What's the Big Idea?
Researchers believe that while the mind is wandering, a relatively rare state facilitated by rote activities, several different brain regions interact, inspiring new solutions to tired problems. This suggests that the most successful group in the experiment 'resulted from an incubation process' which was 'characterized by high levels of mind wandering,' the researchers write. "So if you’re an aspiring songwriter or a poet with a day job waiting tables, you may be in luck. So long as the restaurant isn’t ridiculously busy, you have placed yourself in a situation that facilitates creative thinking." [read more...]
Solutions For Breaking Out Of "Creative Brainlock" (This last term is a very suitable Lingovation which I invented myself just for you!). These are all effective to different extents for different people. If one doesn't seem to work, be patient; then try the next one on the list. Walk away from the problem at hand and:
1) Spend some time doing a rote, thoughtless or repetitive exercise, either physical or mental. Often, your sought-after solution just seems to miraculously occur to you, as described in the article above, while you are not thinking creatively, and not "forcing" any issue;
2) Take a nap, or 'sleep on it'. Our minds tend to confront problems and solve them while we dream or let them simply wander where they will. The subconscious is a powerful problem-solver (and is also often a problem creator as well);
3) Put your opinions aside, state the problem in simple, direct terms, and interview other persons (variety is best here), whether seemingly expert or largely unqualified, and survey them for their fresh approaches to the solution. You'd be amazed how some of their fresh (and even wildly off-base) thinking spurs your mind into a new and refreshed focus;
4) Put your work aside and listen to you favorite music. It forces your mind and body to think and feel in an entirely different way. It is a powerful, albeit re-energizing distraction. It refreshes your creative juices. Of course I recommend reading The RadioDAZZ Blog in order to find a selection of great music. Sometimes just five or ten minutes of music will do the trick;
5) If you can, meditate upon hypnotic (repetitive) visual patterns, or simply take some time (5 minutes or less) to run your eyes into a conscious repetitive pattern (stolen from EMDR and RET practitioners) of going from the upper right-hand corner to the lower left-hand corner and then back again -- then do the same type of exercise from your upper left hand corner to your lower right-hand corner. You needn't think while doing this. You eye movements are actually accessing different parts of your brain and providing you with an "access tune-up."
I promise you that any of the above approaches, either alone or in combination with any or all of the others will refresh your creativity and problem-solving ability. My personal theory is that when the mind plays hid-and-seek with an idea (as it knows that we are trying to access it), the best countermeasure is to completely quit our strenuous and futile focus on the problem, and let our miraculous minds solve it for us.
Ironic? Yes. But true.
Douglas E. Castle for The Braintenance Blog and for The Daily Burst Of Brilliance Blog