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Published on November 25, 2019

How to Train Your Brain to Be Creative

How to Train Your Brain to Be Creative

Have you ever looked down on yourself or even think you can never achieve anything significant in life? This belittling thought pattern will prevent you from attaining peak performance and becoming productive in life and your relationships. It will also hinder you from being opened to greater possibilities that can change your life.

This is the more reason you need to learn how to be creative.

What Is Creativity?

Creativity is the ability or tendency to recognize and curate ideas, possibilities, alternatives that are crucial to solving issues, connect others, and entertain one another.

When we talk about creativity, some names readily come to mind.

It’s interesting to know that most of these creative people from Beethoven to Steve Jobs are ordinary people who exceptionally perform ordinary things. Therefore, it will not be an understatement to add your name to the list if you think you are creative.

You may disqualify yourself because you have not created anything new. This has been found out to be a great misconception when discussing how creativity works. Creativity is not only about inventing something new. There is nothing ever new or original. Every genius that has ever worked the face of the earth has only learned how to connect ideas and things to generate meaningful value.

Why Is Creativity Important?

People aspire to learn how to be creative for the following reasons:

The Need to Impact Meaningful Values

We are here to change the world. If you want to make a significant difference in life, there is a likely chance you are tapping the innate creative ability on your inside.

The Need to Address Problems

The world will become short of creative people once we stop having issues that threaten our existence like global warming.

Is there darkness in the world? A genius will invent light. Is the light not eco-friendly? Another creative person will design how to leverage solar power to light up the world, and the chain becomes endless.

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The Need for Complex, Varied and Novel Stimulation

If you hate the status quo like me, there is a chance you will end up with an innovative idea. Creative individuals learn how to look at life from other perspectives. They don’t go with the flow. They test a series of alternatives that can contribute meaningful value to life.

10 Creative Thinking Methods

So how can you be creative on demand? Here’re 10 thinking methods you should know:

1. Creative Problem Solving

This is a means of addressing issues or identifying opportunities when conventional thought processes have failed to yield results. The method encourages you to discover fresh perspectives and devise innovative ideas or solutions to surmount a daunting challenge.

2. Brainstorming

This technique is deployed to tackle a design problem. It usually comprises a group that is guided by a facilitator. The capability of each session is inherent in the ability of the participants to draw a connection between their novel ideas in the outside world.

Alex Osborn, the inventor of brainstorming in his book, Applied Imagination written in 1953, affirmed that,

“We aim squarely at a particular design problem and generate an arsenal of possible solutions. By not just harvesting our ideas but putting into consideration our colleagues’ concept, we cover the issue from all angles imaginable.”

3. Charette

It is a thorough planning session that connects designers, citizens, and other polymaths to collaborate on a developmental cause. It offers an opportunity for sharing ideas and provides a rare privilege of communicating feedbacks instantly to the designers. It facilitates inclusion and makes everyone a mutual author of the development.

4. Critical Thinking

This is an objective analysis of facts to generate a conclusion. It is self-disciplined, self-directed, self-corrective thinking and self-guided. It incorporates problem-solving abilities, practical communication skills, and the tenacity to surmount your native sociocentrism (a tendency of viewing the world from your cultural or social perspective) and egocentrism( failure to differentiate yourself from others).

You can take a look at my other article to learn more: How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills and Think Clearer

5. Interactive Planning

Russell L. Ackoff defined it as establishing a future by creating a desirable present. Interacting Planning or IAP is a technique employed by project managers to engage relevant stakeholders, as well as subject matter experts.

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The engagement process includes a collective discussion of the project plan and the strategy to design a dependable, holistic, and an active project schedule. It is often called Participative Planning(PP).

A notable benefit of this method is it helps everyone to understand the project scope and design a realistic schedule. It is also a conduit pipe for effective communication to flow. It is relevant in identifying critical milestones, constraints, and assumptions.

6. Force-Field Analysis

This analysis pinpoints the competing forces that surround an issue and employs brainstorming to discover the solutions. It was invented in the 1940s by Kurt Lewin. He initially utilized the technique in his project as a social psychologist. However, it has found relevance in the business environment. It is useful in establishing, sharing go, or no-go decisions.

The concept of this technique is that circumstances are established via a balance between forces that drive disruption or change and the ones that resist it. The driving actors must be empowered to cause change, or the negating forces must be weakened. [1]

7. K-J Method

It is a technique that derived its name from its inventor, Jiro Kawakita. It is a facilitated session where participants highlight their priorities on a card, collate them collectively, and arrange them by relationship via individual voting.

The objective of the method is to arrive at a consensus of valid information, especially in a group where individuals are bound to disagree.

Here I’ll just briefly describe how to implement it:[2]

  1. Gather five or more individuals together in a conducive room for 90 minutes. Give them markers and sticky notes.
  2. Establish a focused question that bothers on the project’s requirement and assign a facilitator to oversee the exercise
  3. Allocate 5 minutes for writing three answers to the items on the notes.
  4. Allocate 15 minutes to participants to stick their answers on the board, read others’ responses, and add to it. Guide them to cluster similar solutions without discussing them.
  5. Request participants to label each cluster individually. Make this mandatory. They can also segregate clusters.
  6. Put each name on the board cluster-by-cluster. Isolate duplicate words.
  7. Combine duplicate responses as long as the group agrees they are similar.
  8. Three or four teams will typically rank higher compared to others-those responses are relevant for the question.

8. Lateral Thinking

This technique is all about looking at a concept from different angles. It is a deliberate and systematic process.

Check out the article Think Laterally to learn more.

10. Play to Innovate Method

Individuals and teams unlock their innate potentialities by going through a fascinating, play-like technique. This method harnesses the creative power of the brain using playfulness.

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Several people believe we work to sustain a living outside of work. We go through work and life without locating a means of staying happy. Play to innovate methods changes the ball game. It asks, ” What if we adjust the work culture and provide reasons for people to work without monetary incentives. This hack examines making work playful while enjoying the benefits of creativity and innovation. [3]

10. SWOT Analysis

SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats. You can find out more about this in How SWOT Analysis Turns Risks Into Opportunities.

How To Be More Creative If You’re Not Naturally Creative

Besides the above thinking methods, start trying the following ways to be more creative:

1. Distinguish Between Problem-Solving and Ruminating

It is helpful to think about approaches that will aid you in surmounting a challenge, but it is less productive to picture yourself unable to accommodate the pain. Anytime you are deliberating on a matter, take time out to see if you are problem-solving, or just ruminating.

If the former, sustain the process. But if you are thinking about things you cannot control or that have occurred, it is a mere waste of time. Declutter your mind and allow your brain to focus on meaningful and productive activities.

2. Implement the Same Advice You Will Give a Confidant.

A lot of people find it easy to criticize themselves. Do you know that magnifying your weak points will only limit and drag you down?

Research has linked self-compassion to emotional well-being. The NCBI research indicated that self-compassion affects every dimension of well-being. It enhances your self-esteem and activates your can-do spirit. [4]

Therefore, speak to yourself as you would talk to a friend.

3. Name-Tag Your Emotion

Most people, especially men, rarely talk about their feelings. Thus, a lot of people have created a gap between themselves and their feelings. This will only make it difficult for you to detect how you feel at any point in time.

Most times, when you name-tag your feelings as adults, you do so using an indirect approach. You say something like, “I have butterflies in my stomach,” when you are nervous.

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It is not a sin to acknowledge your feeling. Give those emotions names and identify how they can impact your decisions.

Spend time each day to perform emotional acknowledgment exercise. If something bothers you, note it down instead of transferring aggression (the consequence of not taking charge of your emotion) on others.

4. Balance Your Feelings with Logic

Peradventure you are battling with a chronic disease or facing a difficult financial situation, you will make informed decisions when you can establish an equilibrium between your emotion and logic. Allow the rational part of you to lead when your emotion is attaining its peak.

Another approach to step down your emotions is to identify the consequences of your actions. Perusing the list will enable you to minimize the influence of your emotions on your decision.

5. Practice Gratitude

Research has found out that gratitude-oriented people exhibit increased wellness. A deliberate focus on the good side of life will produce interpersonal and emotional benefits, including happiness. [5]

Negative people can never be creative. Make a habit of listing what you are grateful for- the morning breakfast, the sunny weather, the green pasture, and many more. Practice journaling before retiring to bed. Allow your brain to reflect on the right things happening within and around you. Focusing on the sunny aspect of life will impact your wellness.

Get more inspirations with these 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For.

6. Develop a Healthy Mentality

If you desire to attain a peak in life, educate your brain now and then. You need to train your brain for success by speaking positive and meaningful words.

Bonus: Crack Your Cocoon!

According to Bill Stainton, isolating ourselves from weird people, or what he called ‘staying inside our cocoon’ robs us of creative ideas that possess the highest capability to address our biggest challenges. It is by cracking your cocoon or embracing individuals and weird experiences that you will discover the link that leads to breakthrough ideas. [6]

Bottom Line

Creativity is a seed of greatness. You can become great and significant only if you take the responsibility to train your brain for breakthrough ideas.

There are many techniques to adapt to nurture your innate creativity to fruition. Find what works for you, and do not forget to crack your cocoon! Creativity can rub on you when you associate with creative people.

More to Boost Your Creativity

Featured photo credit: Jessica Lewis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

10 Good Habits To Have in Life To Be More Successful What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It Easily Distracted? Here’s How to Regain Your Focus How to Stay Focused at Work by Using Deep Work What are Goals? Achieve More By Changing Your Perspectives

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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