One powerful way to live a more creative life is to cultivate an “insight outlook” — the art of looking more deeply at everything we experience with an open, inquisitive spirit. Creative people are intensely observant, paying careful attention to everything they think and hear. They realize that their environments – the people they talk to, the places they go, the things they read or hear on the radio or TV – can lead their thinking in fresh, exciting directions, which can lead to new ideas and opportunities.
To develop an insight outlook, I recommend that you get in the habit of asking open-ended questions that help you to look more deeply at your daily encounters and experiences:
- How can I use this?
- What lessons or insights can I learn from this experience?
- What does this mean in the context of my current creative challenge or the projects I’m working on?
Creative people realize that most ideas aren’t totally new, but are adaptations of what has worked in another market, industry or field of study. History is full of examples, from Alexander Graham Bell modeling the telephone after the way the human ear operated to George de Mestral, who used the concept of plant burrs sticking to his dog’s fur to envision Velcro fasteners. Taking ideas from other environments and adapting them for use in your situation is one of the best ways of developing novel solutions.
Your brain is equipped with the awesome capability of making associations between seemingly disparate pieces of information. It’s part of what makes us human beings so incessantly creative. To help ensure that your brain has a rich pile of creative “raw material” from which to draw, try to seek out unique inputs, knowledge and experiences:
- Read a book or magazine that you don’t normally read. Reading broadly, from a variety of sources, brings your brain into contact with new ideas and concepts, and can be a trigger to your imagination.
- Discuss your problem with people from entirely different backgrounds. You may be amazed at the ideas and insights these discussions will provoke.
- Take a trip abroad and immerse yourself in another culture. International travel is one of the most mind-expanding experiences that I know of. Your senses are heightened as you experience new practices, customs and beliefs – creating a fertile field in your mind for new ideas to grow.
- Spend some time surfing the web, following links and connections to see where they lead. Inevitably, you will find some fascinating nuggets of information that you may be able to apply to one of your projects or challenges.
- As you consider the problems and challenges you face, be on the lookout for analogous situations in other industries or fields. How did someone else solve a similar problem? What elements of their solution can you adapt to your situation?
In short, cultivating an insight outlook is one of the most practical ways in which you can become more creative in your daily life.