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Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

You may be the type to constantly push yourself to stay on the cutting edge. You work out your mind and body everyday so you can get more from life and stay in the zone. But, with everything you do there’s still a little something missing. You may not know exactly know what “it” is, but you can feel it: The spark, the zest, the quick wit.

You probably know people who can flip the script of life on a moments notice. Now it’s time to cultivate these skills for yourself.

To some, cleverness means manipulation. Instead, we’re gonna reframe that expired meaning to mental flexibility and gut instinct.

The little known story of Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was a musical genius and constant innovator of his craft. A little known trait of his, however, was his quick, intuitive thinking.

One day a stranger showed up on Frank’s doorstep, waving a revolver and a bloody bag. As Frank reached for the bag, the man aimed a revolver at his chest.

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Without hesitation, and fueled by a brilliant impulse, he rallied everyone in the house to head outside to the lake, including the armed stranger. When they were all standing by the shore, he suggested that everyone start throwing things into the lake. The stranger threw his gun.

The secret to his success was his lightening-fast mental reflex; a muscle he had built up over many years.

A deeper dive into his mental life

Zappa’s success had to do with the way he perceived the world. As a naturally creative mind, he allowed his creative processing to seep into his life. Most people would see this situation and immediately react, either cowering in fear or reacting with anger; instead, Zappa saw the situation from multiple angles. Disarming the stranger would be his ultimate goal.

Through building your own creative muscle you can learn to process the world in this open ended manner. It takes time, but the exercises are simple and can potentially save your life.

Zappa also had a unique bond with his gut instinct that many of us take for granted. Granted as an innovative musician he had built up the ability to trust his gut, leading him towards new musical avenues. This connection with his intuition proved vital. It allowed him to turn his creative thinking into reality with lightening speed, bringing the situation under his control and saving his life.

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When you build a connection to your own intuitive muscle it might feel strange. After all you’re simply trusting in a feeling or a hunch, but over time you’ll become a master. Couple this intuitive trust with creative thinking and you’ll have lightening fast mental control over your life.

The Zappa Equation: Intuition + Creative Vision

To infuse your life with cleverness two elements need to be present:

1. Creative Vision

Having a creative view of the world is the ability to perceive multiple realities in one situation. It’s easier if you prep ahead of time, so you’re ready when life deals you a tough hand. To cultivate this gift try the following exercise:

Whenever an event just happened in your life, pause for reflection: maybe it’s a conversation with your boss, or a decision to take a trip to Europe. Use your imagination to come up with alternative ways it could have gone. Use the golden phrase “what if”. Get playful with it, this should be fun. You’re awakening your imagination with your creative juices.

By playing with different realities of a situation your brain will become used to applying this kind of daydream like thinking to everyday situations.

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For some it helps to keep a journal with you so you can jot down events and how they could have gone differently. After a while you’ll start to program your mind to see the world this way.

2. Intuition

A lot of us have an unhappy relationship with our intuition. Either it’s weakened to the point of decay or we confuse the feelings of our gut with anxiety or indigestion. We need to cultivate this bond with our inner guidance system so it can steer us in the right direction.

Imagine trying to navigate your way through a dense forest with a broken compass—you probably wont get very far.

Let’s get your compass in working order. Give this exercise a go:

Any time you walk into a room try and sense the overall feeling. Ask yourself: is there any negativity present? What about positivity?

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Give yourself permission to try and feel out the room with your intuition. It should only take a few seconds. After a couple of times you’ll have a better sense about the world around you and have the ability to feel into situations before they happen.

When can I use this?

All this is great but how does this translate to your daily life?

Your life is made up of moments. The greater mastery you have over these moments the more beauty you can inject into your life.

You’ll be like the artist at her canvas, using your cleverness as a brush to paint the life of your dreams. By experimenting with these simple cleverness practices you’ll develop a river of cleverness throughout your life. A set of tools that can be used on moments notice.

The tools are simple, and the results are profound.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Poet and Writer

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person 7 Ways To Open Your Heart to The World 5 Simple Tips to Meditate Like a Monk The Minimalist Guide to Creativity Think Like A Genius: How Cleverness Can Save Your Life

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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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