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How to Become a Creative Genius

How to Become a Creative Genius
Einstein

When we measure the creativity of young children, virtually all of them will record as being ‘highly creative’. However, only a small percentage of adults register as being ‘highly creative’.

What happened?

Schools have crushed creativity. We were told to color within the lines. We were taught to follow instructions. The goal in
school is to get the “right” answer. Unfortunately, if you’re afraid to be wrong, you’ll never be creative or original.

The job of education is to produce employees who follow instructions. And to this endeavor, they are doing a
very good job. However, in terms of creativity, they are falling terribly short.

This is one of the most unfortunate realities in our current education system.

To undo this, we must continuallyexercise our creative juices. That’s why I have put together 6 tips for expanding your creativity.

1. Keep a Notebook and Pencil on hand at all times.

Ideas are like in-laws, you never know when they’re coming over to visit. By keeping a notebook around, you will always
be able to capture your ideas at any time of the day.

Leonardo da Vinci was well known for keeping a journal of his ideas. His notebooks are now prized possessions that hold
the many creative and genius thoughts of this master thinker, painter, and inventor.

His notebooks were filled with plans for flying machines, a parachute, a helicopter, the extendable ladder, the bicycle,
folding furniture, and a number of automated tools for increasing productivity.

Yes, I am happy to say that Leonardo da Vinci was a productivity junkie.

A blank page is an open invitation for the creative and curious mind. The simple act of writing gets you into a
creative flow that can last for hours.

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The free-flowing, exploratory practice of keeping a journal encourages freedom of thought and expanded perspectives.

2. The second key to creativity is to ask questions.

Questions are the root of all knowledge and creativity. By continually asking questions about the world around us, we
fuel our creative fire.

Great minds are those that have asked the greatest questions.

Leonardo da Vinci asked such questions as:

“Why does the thunder last a longer time than that which causes it?” and “Why is the sky blue?”

Socrates asked such questions as:

  • “What is wisdom?”
  • “What is piety?”
  • “What is beauty?”

As a young boy, Albert Einstein asked himself, “What would it be like to run beside a light beam at the speed of
light?”

A number of inventions have been created by asking one simple question…

“What if…..?”

By asking questions we increase our level of consciousness and our perspective of the world.

3. To become a creative genius, you must also be a voracious reader.

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Reading enhances your mental ability and lets you experience the world from a brand new perspective.

When we read a book, we let go of our own perspectives and experience the world from the characters that have been crafted by the author.

I have found in my own life that the more I read, the more I want to know. Reading becomes an insatiable desire and an unquenchable thirst.

4. Seek out new experiences.

Our minds are much like a garden. Without proper care, the weeds will take over. Nothing sparks the mind like learning something new.

If you want to expand your creativity, then learn a new skill. It can be anything you choose. Learn a new language.
Learn to water ski. Learn to play an instrument. Pick up photography or even try a new sport.

All of these activities get your mind working outside of its regular patterns.

5. Become a whole-brain thinker.

There are generally two-types of people in this world: left-brained and right-brained.

In most cases, people are either analytical thinkers who enjoy math, science, and logic or they are highly
imaginative and creative individuals who focus on the big-picture.

Unfortunately, our school systems generally cater to those who are left-brained analytical thinkers. This has created
a world of employees who are very good at following directions but are not so good at developing new ideas.

To break the mold, we must become whole-brain, holistic thinkers.

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You can do this by using a powerful method known as mind mapping.

Mind mapping has been used by some of history’s greatest brains, including Michelangelo, Mark Twain, and Leonardo da
Vinci.

Mind mapping is a whole-brain activity that will awaken your creative side as well as your analytical side.

Mind mapping will also help you to generate new ideas when needed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using it for
personal goal setting, problem solving, or simply to become a more creative, whole-brain thinker.

Our mind works in pictures, associating one idea to the next. Mind mapping allows you to continue this natural
thought process on paper.

Mind mapping is one of the most powerful tools for awakening your creativity.

For a detailed explanation of mind mapping, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map

6. The final tool for developing your creativity is imaginary dialogue.

Yes, I know, it may sound silly at first, but this technique can be an extremely powerful tool for developing your
creativity.

This technique was first introduced in the best-selling book by Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich”.

Before achieving his success, Napoleon Hill was first meeting with an imaginary mastermind each night. He would
close his eyes and visualize a table occupied by such great men as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Napoleon
Bonaparte, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Elbert Hubbard.

Napoleon Hill would then speak to the members of his imaginary mastermind in the following manner:

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“Mr. Lincoln: I desire to build in my own character those qualities of patience and fairness toward all mankind and
the keen sense of humor which were your outstanding characteristics.”

“Mr. Washington: I desire to build in my own character those qualities of patriotism and self-sacrifice and leadership which were your outstanding characteristics.”

“Mr. Hubbard: I desire to develop the ability to equal and even to excel the ability that you possessed with which to express yourself in clear, concise and forceful language.”

After meeting with his mastermind group for several months, he found that he had developed each of their desired
characteristics into his own personality.

Napoleon also went to his imaginary mastermind to help solve any problem he was facing.

The imaginary mastermind is a master tool for finding new perspectives and looking at your problem from a different angle.

For example, let’s say that you own a business. Why not develop an imaginary mastermind of the greatest business
minds in history? You can call to your table such names as Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Ray
Kroc, and Sam Walton.

Call on them daily for advice and you will begin to see your problems in a new light. As once said by Albert Einstein,

“You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”

You can have even more creative fun by imagining a discussion between two different well-known people.
Some examples to get you started include:

  • Bill Gates Vs. Steve Jobs
  • Leonardo da Vinci vs. Albert Einstein
  • William Shakespeare vs. Maya Angelou

Let your mind wander and you will be surprised at all of the connections you begin to make.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at
The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential
GTD Resources
, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need
a Braindump
, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and
Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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