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Spark Your Creativity With These 5 Scientifically Proven Methods

Spark Your Creativity With These 5 Scientifically Proven Methods

We all have a creative force looming somewhere inside us, but sometimes bringing it out can be difficult. Certainly, when you’re stuck in a creative rut it can be tough to know where to turn. Not to fear, I’m here today with some stellar methods for sparking creativity backed by science. The next time you find yourself creatively stuck, take heart in these five scientifically proven methods to spark your creativity. They might sound simple, but they are powerful and when used can have big impacts on your ability to think creatively.

1. Run Free Like a Child

Children are incredibly creative thinkers. Full of imagination and without the self imposed limitations we place on ourselves as adults, kids are innately creative. They are free to play, dream, imagine and create without restriction. The next time you’re feeling like you need a burst of creativity try playing like a child. Backed by science, a recent study found that when participants were asked to imagine themselves as seven year olds they performed significantly better on divergent thinking tests. Let your imagination free and play like a child to spark your creativity.

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2. Don’t Box Yourself In

As adults we often box ourselves in simply by the language we use to describe the problems we are trying to solve. It might sound simple but an incredibly effective way to increase your problem solving ability is to simply change the verbs you use to describe the problem. Change it from a specific verb, e.g. ‘driving’, to a more generic verb, e.g. ‘moving’, to open your mind to the possibilities and see a dramatic increase in the number of problems you’re able to solve.

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3. Pay Attention to Colour

Colour can have a huge impact on your mood and your ability to be creative. Studies have consistently shown colour to influence mood and behaviour with a 2009 study showing that subjects solved twice as many insight puzzles when in the presence of the colour blue. Blue is known to lead to more relaxed and associative thinking, giving rise to creativity. Next time you’re looking for a quick burst of creativity embrace the power of blue. Whether it means creating in a blue room or simply walking outside and staring up at the sky with a notebook in hand, this quick change to your environment can make a big difference.

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4. Explore the World Around You

The world around you is full of creative potential. In fact, a recent study lead by researcher Adam Galinsky showed that students who had lived overseas were significantly more likely to solve a classic insight puzzle. Their experience of living within a completely different culture to their native one awarded them with prized open-mindedness. The same effect has also been noted with professionals. Fashion-house directors who have lived in a variety of different countries produce clothing that is consistently rated as more creative by industry peers. Get outside your own backyard to explore the world around you and you’ll see your creativity soar.

5. Make Time to Daydream

In our busy lives making the time to daydream can feel like a bit of a luxury, but research has shown it is absolutely essential to sparking creativity. A recent research study led by Jonathan Schooler at the University of California, Santa Barbara USA, found that people who daydream more often are more creative thinkers. Participants within the study who reported higher levels of daydreaming consistently scored higher on a variety of scientific tests of creativity. Make time in your busy life to let your mind free to daydream and spark your creativity today.

Featured photo credit: Paul Inkles via Flickr CC via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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