How to Hone Your Creative Thinking

Whoever said artists are the only creative people around? Remember that teacher from school who had unique ways of making you remember your lessons? Or the friend who fashions delectable dishes out of leftovers? They are creative too.

You could be too. It’s all about keeping an open mind, an observing eye, and an eagerness to draw connections. You could hone your creative thinking too. Here’s how.

1. Really, Really Try

Thinking is exercise for the brain cells. It’s great to brainstorm in groups to come up with creative ideas, but make it a habit to think when you are on your own too. Note your ideas down, draw mind maps, and sketch diagrams. The weirder the better. That’s your thinking becoming flexible.

Creativity happens in two steps. First, you are exposed to ideas. Then you form connections. So there’s no shortcut to becoming a creative genius. Enrich yourself. Read up, look at art, watch talks, or talk to others. Literature and the arts can help you explore new situations and new perspectives. Experiences of others could give you fresh ways of looking at the same old things too.

2. Look for Patterns

Everything has a pattern. From the serial killer in the detective novel you are reading to the way your body reacts to food. You just need to observe keenly. Look out for similar patterns in unrelated objects – think of analogies or metaphors. Then when you are quite adept at recognizing a pattern, break it. You will come up with something new.

3. Learn Music or Sketching

Both music and sketching require you to notice the tiniest details. They hone your skills of observation – it can be a great advantage when you need to converge two (or more) ideas at a distinct point.

No time to learn either? Listen to happy music. It’s known to improve divergent thinking.[1] To put it simply, divergent thinking involves finding a different use for a common object.

4. Meditate Daily

Unlike popular quizzes online tell you, you don’t have to be right-brained to be creative. Creativity is a function of the whole brain. So the more well-connected a brain is, the more creative it is.

Mindfulness meditation is known to strengthen the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres of your brain. In layman terms, it gets your brain talking more.[2] So you are better at aspects of creative thinking like divergent thinking (finding a different use for a common object), convergent thinking (finding the best possible solution), working memory (quick recall), and cognitive flexibility (welcoming new ideas and experiences).[3]

5. Rest Every Now and Then

We are bombarded by information every day. Not all of it is useful. Switch off every once in a while. Take a break from phone calls, emails, or social media. Spend the time relaxing your senses. Do nothing, for a change. When you come back, you’ll have pulled your mind out of the rut.

Here’s to looking at the old world in a new way!


References

[1] Ritter, Simone M., and Sam Ferguson. “Happy creativity: Listening to happy music facilitates divergent thinking.” PloS one 12, no. 9 (2017): e0182210.

[2] Luders, Eileen, Owen R. Phillips, Kristi Clark, Florian Kurth, Arthur W. Toga, and Katherine L. Narr. “Bridging the hemispheres in meditation: thicker callosal regions and enhanced fractional anisotropy (FA) in long-term practitioners.” Neuroimage 61, no. 1 (2012): 181-187.

[3] Colzato, Lorenza S., Ayca Szapora, and Bernhard Hommel. “Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training on convergent and divergent thinking.” Frontiers in psychology 3 (2012): 116.