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Revealed: 8 Secret Ways to Unleash Your Creative Genius

Revealed: 8 Secret Ways to Unleash Your Creative Genius

You may be one of those people who is naturally creative and can come up with creative ideas with ease. Some people are just a bit more predisposed to creative thinking than others, and that’s okay. It’s certainly something that can be exercised and improved upon.

We can get stuck sometimes when trying to be more creative and come up with better ideas. Here are eight useful you can train yourself to do every day to boost your creative thinking.

You’re more creative when you’re tired

You’re probably reading this thinking that I’m crazy, but it’s true. Most of us claim to be either night owls or morning larks, and think that we work best and most creative during those times. However, the opposite is true. You’re actually more creative during non-optimal times.

For example, if you’re more of a night owl, your brain is more likely to come up with creative ideas in the morning when you’re tired.

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Pick places with ambient noises and dim lighting

When I sat down to do work I always thought that being in silence would help to get me in my most creative state, but the opposite is true. I’m not saying listening to your music on max volume is the greatest. Think about the type of music you’d be hearing in a coffee shop. Creative thinking needs the type of sounds you would hear there to spark new ideas and “out of the box” thinking.

Some people work best in a room with natural lighting while others prefer to be in a darker area. I work best in a darker setting at my desk with candles lit. I am very relaxed and feel that is when I am the most focused.

Through research[1] I found that working in dim lighting can actually improve creativity. This particular study discovered that when around dim lighting, the participants were more creative.

Put two ideas together and make them one

When you compromise a few ideas you’ll usually end up disappointed with the result. It’s typically something no one likes or recognize. You have to approach it differently. It wont’ work 100% of the time, but try to to take multiple ideas, dissect them and pull out the key elements of each one, then merge them into one idea. Combining ideas is a wonderful skill to have.

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Put more constraints on time or materials when generating ideas

I had also thought that we tend to be most creative when we’re feeling free. Once again, I was proven wrong. By putting constraints on yourself, you can actually increase your creative thinking. When you have too many options or choices, it can be overwhelming. By the process of elimination, you’ll be able to focus and swim in creativity.

So go ahead and give yourself a deadline or limit the materials you can use for your project. Your creativity will thank you.

Don’t settle for the first idea you come up with

If you’re going to stick to the first idea that pops into your head, you’re selling yourself short. You’re not giving yourself the opportunity to argue against yourself. You want to ensure that you’re putting forth your best mental effort.

In other words, play devil’s advocate with yourself. Take the time to have a fully-engaged, well-structured look at your ideas before jumping into execution mode.

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“An ounce of preventative action now is worth a pound of corrective action later.” Todd Henry

Don’t get used to certain habits

You’ll limit your creative flow this way. Maybe you’re always going to the same coffee shop to get your work done. Or maybe you take the same route home every day. You’re a product of your experience.

The limitations you have are self-imposed, but they are false. When you force yourself to look past all which you know and feel comfortable with, you’ll start coming up with those breakthrough ideas you’ve been hoping for. Step outside your comfort zone.

See yourself as a creative person

Believe it or not, everyone is creative. It’s not abnormal to think that you aren’t, but by believing you aren’t a creative person, you really limit your creative thinking. It stops the flow of ideas and the ones you do have, you don’t believe are good ideas when they come to the surface. Even if the ideas are exactly what you’re looking for.

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Do yourself a favor, allow yourself to be the creative person that you are. Think back to the times when you came up with that great idea that blew your boss out of the water. Let it be a positive reminder that you are truly a creative person. Don’t wallow in the memories of times when you were struggling.

Keep an idea book

Have you ever had an idea while lying in bed, taking a shower, or driving? Great ideas can come at any time, so it’s important to write them down, so you don’t forget them.

An idea book allows you to document the ideas immediately. You can write down inspiring words, things you observe and bits of wisdom. Use it as a brainstorming tool. Carry it with you everywhere so you’re able to capture that inspiring idea when it comes.

At some point we all fall into a rut and become frustrated by not being able to come up with fresh ideas. The good news is that your creative thinking meter won’t be on E forever. When you’re feeling like you can’t pull yourself out, try incorporating some of these things into your daily routine to get yourself back on top. And most importantly, remind yourself that you are creative.

Reference

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Erica Wagner

Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on May 21, 2020

How Cognitive Bias Influences Our Decision Making

How Cognitive Bias Influences Our Decision Making

Cognitive biases are dangerous judgment errors that can devastate our health and wellbeing, our relationships, careers and businesses, and other areas of our lives.

To protect yourself against these mental blind spots, you need to know what they are, where they come from, and what you can do about them. That’s what this article is about.

Cognitive Biases on the Road

For an example of cognitive bias, imagine you are driving on autopilot, as we all do much of the time.

Let’s be clear, it’s a good idea to let your automatic response be in the driver’s seat when you are doing tasks that don’t require your full focus and attention. In ordinary driving situations – without inclement weather or start-and-stop traffic – you don’t need to use up your mental resources by turning your full focus on driving.

Now imagine that, as you are driving, the car in front of you unexpectedly cuts you off!

What do you do?

Well, you have to slam on your brakes to avoid a crash. Maybe you flash your lights or honk your horn. You feel scared and angry.

Your sympathetic nervous system activates, shooting cortisol throughout your body. Your heart beats faster, your palms start to sweat, a wave of heat goes through your body. [1]

What’s your gut feeling about the other driver? Probably your first impression is that the driver is rude and obnoxious.

Now imagine a different situation. You’re driving on autopilot, minding your own business, and you suddenly realize you need to turn right at the next intersection. You quickly switch lanes and suddenly hear someone behind you honking their horn.

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You now realize that there was someone in your blind spot but you forgot to check it in the rush to switch lanes, so you cut them off pretty badly.

Do you think that you are a rude driver? The vast majority of us would not. After all, we did not deliberately cut off the other driver; we just failed to see their car.

Let’s imagine another situation: your friend hurt herself and you’re rushing her to the emergency room. You’re driving aggressively and cutting in front of other cars.

Are you a rude driver? You’d probably say you are not; you’re merely doing the right thing for this situation.

Misattributing Blame Due to Cognitive Biases

Why do we give ourselves a pass while assigning an obnoxious status to other people? Why do our guts always make ourselves the good guys and other people the bad guys?

There is clearly a disconnect between our gut reactions and reality. This pattern is not a coincidence

Our immediate gut reaction attributes the behavior of other people to their personality and not to the situation in which the behavior occurs. The scientific name for this type of cognitive bias is the fundamental attribution error.[2]

This judgment error results in the following: if we see someone behaving rudely, we immediately and intuitively feel that this person is rude. We don’t stop to consider whether an unusual situation may cause the individual to act that way.

With the example of the driver, maybe the person who cut you off did not see you. Maybe they were driving their friend to the emergency room. But that’s not what our gut reaction tells us.

On the other hand, we attribute our own behavior to the situation, and not our personality. Much of the time we believe that we have valid and fully justifiable explanations for our actions.

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Are Cognitive Biases Really So Bad?

Don’t believe that such negative snap judgments about others can be harmful?

It may not seem very important whether you think wrongly that other drivers are jerks. Sorry to disappoint you, but this mental pattern posed a grave threat to your relationships.

As an example, what would you think of a potential business colleague if you saw her yelling at someone on her smartphone?

ou would probably have a negative reaction toward her and may not be likely to do business with her. Well, what if you found out she was yelling because she had her father on the other line who just misplaced his hearing aid and she was making plans to come to his house to help him look for it?

There can be many innocent explanations for someone yelling on the phone, but we are tempted to assume the worst.

In a related example, I was coaching a CEO of a company that had staff who worked from home due to COVID-19.

He told me about a recent incident with an employee who was having a heated Skype discussion over a conflict with an HR manager. The Skype call disconnected and the HR manager told the CEO the employee hung up on her. The CEO fired the employee on the spot.

Later, he learned that the employee thought the HR manager hung up on her. The call simply disconnected. Unfortunately, it was too late to take back the termination, even though the CEO regretted his heated decision.

This unfair firing situation really demoralized the rest of the staff, resulting in a growing disconnect between the CEO and other staff. It eventually contributed to the CEO leaving the organization.

Why Do We Suffer Cognitive Biases?

Intuitively, our mind feels like a cohesive whole. We perceive ourselves as intentional and rational thinkers. Yet cognitive science research shows that in reality, the intentional part of our mind is like a little rider on top of a huge elephant of emotions and intuitions.[3]

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Roughly speaking, we have two thinking systems, which neuroscientists call System 1 and 2. But it’s easier to think of them as the “autopilot system” and “intentional system.”

The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions. Its cognitive processes take place mainly in the amygdala and other parts of the brain that developed early in our evolution.

This system guides our daily habits, helps us make snap decisions, and reacts instantly to dangerous life-and-death situations, like saber-toothed tigers through the freeze, fight, or flight stress response.

While helping our survival in the past, the fight-or-flight response is not a great fit for modern life. We have many small stresses that are not life-threatening, but the autopilot system treats them as tigers, producing an unnecessarily stressful everyday life experience that undermines our mental and physical wellbeing.

Moreover, while the snap judgments resulting from intuitions and emotions usually feel “true” because they are fast and powerful, they sometimes lead us wrongly in systemic and predictable ways.

The intentional system reflects our rational thinking and centers around the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that evolved more recently.

This thinking system helps us handle more complex mental activities, such as managing individual and group relationships, logical reasoning, probabilistic thinking, and learning new information and patterns of thinking and behavior. It can also lead to occasional decision-making errors, but it’s right much more often than the autopilot system.[4]

Train Your Intentional System to Address Cognitive Biases

While the automatic system requires no conscious effort to function, the intentional system takes deliberate effort to turn on and is mentally tiring.

Fortunately, with enough motivation and appropriate training, the intentional system can turn on in situations where we are prone to making systematic decision-making errors. Scholars use the term “cognitive biases” to refer to these errors.

The autopilot system is like an elephant. It’s by far the more powerful and predominant of the two systems. Our emotions can often overwhelm our rational thinking.

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Moreover, our intuitions and habits determine the large majority of our life, which we spend in autopilot mode. And that’s not a bad thing at all – it would be mentally exhausting to think intentionally about our every action and decision.

The intentional system is like the elephant rider. It can guide the elephant deliberately to go in a direction that matches our actual goals.

Certainly, the elephant part of the brain is huge and unwieldy, slow to turn and change, and stampedes at threats. But we can train the elephant. Your rider can be an elephant whisperer.

Over time, you can use the intentional system to change your automatic thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns, and become much better at making the best decisions.

That’s why you should never go with your gut, and instead check with your head on any decision you don’t want to get wrong.[5]

Conclusion

Let’s go back to the fundamental attribution error. Now that we know what cognitive biases are and where they come from, how can we explain this cognitive bias?

From an evolutionary perspective, in the ancestral savanna, it was valuable for the survival of our ancestors to make quick decisions and to assume the worst, regardless of the accuracy of this assumption. Those who failed to do so did not survive to pass on their genes.

In the modern world where our survival is not immediately threatened by others and where we have long-term interactions with strangers, such judgments are dangerous for our long-term goals. We have to address this and other mental blindspots to make good decisions, whether about our relationships or other areas in our life.[6]

So, take a few minutes right now to think about where in recent weeks you might have misattributed blame. Given the stress associated with the pandemic, it’s easy to do.

Take the time to reach out to those you wrongly blamed and apologize. Doing so can be the start of your life-long journey to recognize and defeat cognitive biases and make the best decisions.

More on Cognitive Bias

Featured photo credit: Evan Dennis via unsplash.com

Reference

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