Every one of us would like to have Leonardo Da Vinci‘s creative mind and come up with fancy innovations with a snap of a finger.
Creativity (or creativeness) is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts.
From a scientific point of view, the products of creative thought (sometimes referred to as divergent thought) are usually considered to have both originality and appropriateness. An alternative, more everyday conception of creativity is that it is simply the act of making something new.
All of us can be as creative.
We just need the discipline, the right approach and techniques to achieve it:
Catch the Beauty
In this post I will show several creativity techniques that I personally have found incredibly useful. I’d like to mention this one first – a pen and a notepad – which I personally call The Beauty catchers.
“It’s my own conviction that we do not get our ideas. They are given to us, bubbling up out of our own subconscious minds as if from some dark and murky ferment. When the conditions are right, it is neither more nor less than the natural condition of things for a writer’s imagination to produce those ideas which constitute the raw material of his fiction.”
Lawrence Block .
Here is where our old friends, the pen and the paper, enter in action.
Don’t trust your memory!
Trust your notes. Whenever you have an idea or inspiration, write it down, because it might never come again. Sleeping, watching a movie or taking a bath: be sure to have your notepad with you all the time. You will thank me later when you read them again and see how those random thoughts can turn into brilliant ideas, some so good you won’t even remember how you had them. It works.
You Don’t Have To Reinvent The Wheel
Every time you’ve got a new design to do, your first impulse is to make something entirely new, something that hasn’t been seen before. That would be great! But maybe you are pushing it too hard and in the wrong direction
“Creativity is the ability to illustrate what is outside the box from within the box.” -The Ride
Our every day environment is a invaluable source of opportunities to be creative. Make new associations or new uses of existing concepts and ideas.
Lets see an example of what I’m saying:
photomatt.net is a well-known web development blog sporting a catchy design full of creativeness. So, what makes it look so good?
Besides the great color scheme and the clean layout, what makes it look innovative is the use vintage wallpaper as page background and the messy-desk look. Those two notions are not creative by itself, but when you grab “ordinary” elements and take them somewhere else, with a new use, you are being creative.
That was just one example, you can find loads more. It’s a great method: just take a moment, look around and think in new ways to associate. Why don’t you try to do a design like a flower garden? How about a night full of stars? Old Polaroids? Your grandma’s kitchen? TV series from the 70’s? A rubber duck? How about the Magic 8 Ball? You name it.
Whenever you take an ordinary object that makes part of our common reality and remix it with your own ideas you are using them to climb out of the box.
Close You Eyes and Take a Deep Breath
When was the last time you stopped for a meditation? Have you ever done that? Meditation is not just for Tibetan monks anymore. As your body needs exercise, so does your mind. And like with a great body, you need time and discipline to train it.
Meditation : any of various disciplines of mind and body that enable one to achieve higher states of consciousness; it is a tool for self-improvement, creative renewal and spiritual growth.www.inneraccess101.com/glossary.htm
20 Minutes twice a day can do wonders with your brain – and in your work as a result. So much, that now a scientific tool is being used to tune our brains. These are some pieces from a article by John Fagan, Ph.D #70 from R&D Innovator Volume 2, Number 12 December 1993.
Transcendental Meditation—Accessing Creativity
“TM is so easy that even ten-year-olds can learn it. It requires no change in religious beliefs or philosophical outlook. You don’t need to sleep on a bed of nails or even wear a turban. I know many scientists—at major industries and universities—who swear by their daily practice of meditation because of the benefits they experience in work and personal life.
Why is the practice of meditation revolutionary in scientific terms? Because until now we’ve never had reason to think that we could enhance baseline creativity. We used management techniques and problem-solving methods to help people make the most of their native creativity—but we usually took that baseline level of creativity as a given.
I’m convinced that scientists and engineers can systematically upgrade their creativity and dramatically boost their productivity. In fact, it’s now clear to me that if I ran a lab anywhere else, one of my first steps would be to make TM available to all my colleagues.”
What would be the benefits, you might ask?
Meditation is supposed to be good for you. Is this true?
Let’s look at some research. Over the past 40 years, dozens of universities in the United States, Europe and India have conducted hundreds of studies on the effects of meditation on human physiology and behavior. The research results point to meditation as producing benefits on many levels of life simultaneously – body, emotions, mental functioning, and relationships.
- Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning
- Improved Ability to Focus
- Increased Creativity
- Deeper Level of Relaxation
- Improved Perception and Memory
- Development of Intelligence
- Natural Change in Breathing
- Decrease in Stress Hormone
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Reversal of Aging Process
- Reduced Need for Medical Care
- Reduction in Cholesterol
- Increased Self-Actualization
- Increased Strength of Self-Concept
- Decreased Cigarette, Alcohol, and Drug Abuse
- Increased Productivity
- Improved Relations at Work
- Increased Relaxation and Decreased Stress
- Improved Health and More Positive Health Habits
Many of you might find all of this fine, but you keep telling yourself you have tried unsuccessfully to meditate you can’t simply stop thinking. How can I meditate if my client is waiting the most astonishing design from me and I still need to pay the rent?
Well, I have tested a quite effective method to achieve deep meditative states: Brainwave synchronization using Binaural beats.
Ok, ok. First, brainwave synchronization is the practice to reach desired brain frequencies with a periodic stimuli (like rocking a baby to sleep). And there binaural beats play their role:
In nature, two sounds that are similar but slightly shifted in frequency will beat to produce two new frequencies which are the sum and the difference of the original two sounds. For example, a 400 Hz tone and a 410 Hz tone will form a ~405 Hz tone pulsating 10 times per second.
The brain produces a similar phenomenon internally, resulting in low-frequency pulsations in the loudness of a perceived sound when two tones at slightly different frequencies are presented separately, one to each of a subject’s ears, using stereo headphones. A beating tone will be perceived, as if the two tones mixed naturally, out of the brain. The frequency of the tones must be below about 1,000 to 1,500 hertz for the beating to be heard. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (below about 30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise the two tones will be heard separately and no beat will be perceived.
This is true because the easiest way to stimulate the brain is through the ears. But humans cannot hear sound low enough to generate specific stimuli. That’s why this special technique (binaural beats) is required. I know this might sound a bit unorthodox, but I think if you take the time to have a look into the references and an open mind to try it out, you might be surprised.
Download a demo version of a brain wave generator program which I personally use. You just need a headphone (I have also tried in a good stereo and has worked just fine). Close your eyes, take a deep breath and in less than 10 minutes you will be in a pleasant state of relaxation. It has also a creativity preset that is great. If you relax enough you can reach a state similar to lucid dreaming which could be an amazing tool for boosting your creativity.
Time to Get Radiation From the Sun Instead Of From Your Monitor
Going to the outside world and exercising?
Yes, I know this could be the hardest. And no, you can’t use Google Street View to replace it. But ask professor Charles H. Hillman who says:
“Physical activity may be beneficial to cognition during early and middle periods of the human lifespan and may continue to protect against age-related loss of cognitive function during older adulthood,”
His studies (among others) are demonstrating how physical activity benefits the brain and regenerates it. In a study made on 241 people aged 15-71 living in the greater Amsterdam area, participants reported their physical activity behavior and completed a series of tests designed to indicate task-performance capabilities. A considerable number of them reported an increment of mental abilities (like problem solving) after doing exercise, especially younger people.
Other studies demostrate that exercise like aerobis and walking improve cognitive performance at any age. Research has shown that exercise can have an effect on creativity. At least one study, reported in Health Psychology, showed that a running program can increase creativity.
So take your running shoes and your iPod and try to walk while listening to your favorite news podcasts. That way you’ll still be on the know.