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How To Get Your Inborn Creativity Back

How To Get Your Inborn Creativity Back
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Many people want to be more creative. But most of them also doubt if creativity is a gifted talent that cannot be learned. To find the truth, scientists did some experiments which results were astonishing and at the same time encouraging.

Creativity is indeed an inborn talent, and everyone has it

In 1968, George Land tested 1,600 children’s performance in a creativity test that was originally designed for NASA to recruit innovative scientists. The children were tested at different ages.

Test results

5 year olds who passed the test: 98%
10 year olds who passed the test: 30%
15 year olds who passed the test: 12%

Interestingly, there’s an obvious down trend: the older we are, the less creative we become.

Creativity is not a random gift that only belongs to the lucky minority; we all are gifted with creativity when we were born.

What happens, though, is that during our course of life, we start to “unlearn” our creativity.

Education is the murderer of creativity

Once we enter schools, our brains are stuffed with numbers and vocabulary. All these do not encourage creativity but conformity. Under the current education system, children learn to fulfil teachers’ expectations, pass the exams, and suppress their creative ideas.

Remember, the education system is so because it was designed 200 years ago in the Industrial Revolution to train people to be obedient. It may work well for factory workers, but not for us living in this dynamic world.

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So then, the question is: how get our inborn creativity back?

Creativity, as defined by Richard N. Foster, a lecturer in Yale, is “the ability to find associations between different fields of knowledge, especially ones that appear radically different at first” [1].

Years ago, phone, camera and computer are just three completely unrelated gadgets. But Steve Jobs thought they could be related and decided to combine them into a single device.

Creativity is really about making unexpected linkages.

And to train ourselves to make such linkages, there are exercises we can do on a daily basis.

The Two-word exercise 

In an experiment, neuroscientist Paul Howard Jones asked the subjects to create a story by combing relevant ideas, such as “brush”, “teeth”, and “shine”, and then create another story by combining irrelevant ideas, such as “cow”, “zip”, and “star”. Surprisingly, the stories created with irrelevant words are far more creative than the relevant ones [2].

To apply the study result of Jones’s experiment, we suggest you to start with two words first, instead of three.

Demonstration

Two words given:

  • Man      
  • Cat

First you can think about their relationship, and then think about the environment. Where are they? Are they in the same place or not?

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When you are creating the scenario, try to add more details. This would further boost your creativity.

Our example is:

“After his wife passed away, the cat became his only companion. Every night, when he feeds the cat, he would recall the time he spent with his lovely wife.”

You may find it hard at first. But don’t worry! You can begin with the following guiding questions:

  • What do they look like?
  • What is their interaction?
  • Any emotions triggered?
  • When they first meet each other, what do they say to each other?
  • In what places do they meet?
  • What is the smell, the sound, the temperature of the place?

Once you can create a scenario, you can challenge yourself to create more, let’s say four. We suggest five more examples as follows.

Remember don’t be afraid that your story is too crazy. Just catch whatever jumps up at your head.

When you finish, you can scroll down.

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Possible ideas:

  1. A high-school student has been bullied by his classmates. Every day when he sees the lonely cat around the corner when walking back home, he feels that he can understand her feelings very well.
  2. On one hot day, at lunch time a construction worker sat on the roof of the house he was working on. The person who hired him was a tycoon. The pet cat in this family looked snobby. She ate lavishly and even had her own big room. The construction worker looked at the cat, and wondered why even a cat led a better life than him.
  3. The cat had been spoiled so much by his master since she was brought from the pet store. However, one night an attractive woman came. And the cat felt that she could no longer get his master’s attention anymore.
  4. It rained heavily, and the stream was flooding heavily. A cat carelessly fell into the stream. A man while rushing back to collect the laundry saw the cat. He stopped, and hesitated whether he should jump into the stream to save the cat or not.

Now, since you have already successfully created four scenarios, you should aim higher!

We suggest you create ten scenarios out of two irrelevant ideas every day.

You may take 15 minutes every day, sit in a quiet room, and contemplate over the two ideas.

The time limit here is important, as you can only boost your creativity effectively, if you force yourself under time pressure.

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If you need help in generating irrelevant words, you may go to the following word generator: Random Word Generator.

Reference

[1] Yale Insight: What Is Creativity?
[2] The Huffington Post: 25 Ways To Be More Creative: Inc.

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Chris Cheung

Editorial Intern, Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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