Creativity is one of the most valued and valuable human traits – creative thinking is the tool we use to unleash our potential. However, despite this, creative thinking is not specifically linked to intelligence or IQ – that is to say, while very creative people generally have higher than average intelligence, they are not necessarily all geniuses. So what is creativity, where does it come from, and how can we get more of it? These questions and more are answered in this illuminating post.
Creative thinking is divergent thinking
Creativity is sometimes measured in terms of ‘divergent’ thinking. Divergent thinking is defined as “the ability to come up with a large number of responses to an open-ended probe” for example How many uses can you think of for a brick?(Runco & Marz 1992). Measuring creative thinking is a more interesting approach than measuring ‘creative productivity’ where we might ask: ‘How many designs, paintings or books did you produce…?’
The question is: how can us every day mortals enhance our ability to produce creative ideas? How can we create more room for creative thinking? Why should we care about creative thinking? Because enhanced creativity leads to better business ideas, greater digital innovation, more inspiring graphic design, greater brand equity, even better cake. This is where the thought of exploring ‘Higher Consciousness’ came to us and in turn, became the topic for our agency’s Sunday inspiration video.
Watch the School of Life's take on creative thinking for more on this imaginative and illuminating subject.
Boorish bozo versus creative mojo
The phrase ‘Higher Consciousness’ may sound like there is a lot of tree hugging and meditation involved; fond as we are of those delightful entertainments, it turns out higher consciousness is simply a state of mind – or perhaps, allowing the mind to enter into a different state. A state where more creative thinking is not only possible but enhanced.
This means, instead of allowing ourselves to be entirely consumed by day-to-day trivialities where the reptilian brain’s obsession with survival and our narrow ‘me, me, me!’ is all consuming, we place ourselves instead into situations where we encourage our brain to enter states associated with the neocortex (the bit that developed after the reptilian brand). This is a more creative state of mind, a more thoughtful and imaginative space.
The neocortex is associated with imagination, insight, and empathy – the states of mind associated with higher consciousness. In this state we are more able to triumph over reptilian concerns like fear, fight or flight and begin to see ourselves as connected to the whole – an ‘oceanic perspective’ if you will. This is the kind of state Einstein was in when he formulated E=MC, when Michelangelo carved his masterful’David’ or Khalil Gibran wrote ‘The Prophet’. In other words, this is a magical state where possibilities are endless.
Design space to think
So how do we get into such a space? It turns out we need to give our brains room to go beyond the humdrum of the everyday. To venture away from modern-day media landscape littered endless social media feeds and their episodic updates on GOT memes. We need to get out of our routine behaviors that so easily become stifling ruts that kill creative thought. In other words, we need to be creative about how we make space for creative thinking to happen.
We each need to find our own ‘access point’ or shortcut to this space. Nature is a good nutrient for the creative mind – it offers us a diet of ‘peace’, ‘solemnity’ and ‘tranquility’. So take time to listen to the ocean, watch clouds pass across the sky, enjoy sunlight flickering through the trees, listen to birdsong, take a walk in green pastures, breath in the fresh air and smell of freshly cut grass, watch the stars… However and wherever you find your path to peace, you will find your self on a journey towards to greater creativity.
OK, so how many uses for a brick did you come up with?
The ultimate creative thinking technique is to think like God. If you're an atheist, pretend how god would do it.Frank Lloyd Write.
August Rodin was into creative thinking (and doing) in a monumental way.