Nurturing Creative Thinking in Challenging Times

thinking

 

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” ~ Mary Lou Cook  

“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” ~ Edward de Bono

Our ability to be creative has been called upon so much during these times when everything is different, changing and unpredictable. It’s required for each of us to navigate daily life. And it’s absolutely necessary for anyone involved in leadership and management of a group or organization of any kind. “Necessity is the mother of invention” has new meaning and significance!

Sometimes we tire of the pressure to come up with new solutions in so many areas of life and feel as though we don’t have much left creatively. Perhaps that is you right now.  There are a few practices to consider which could re-ignite your creative thinking. They are simple and may not be new – but I have found it easy to forget or set aside some of these helpful tools in the midst of everything swirling around me.

Our creativity is needed for small, daily things that come up like managing the disappointments and desires of children (or adults in the household) who are frustrated and unhappy about restrictions. And it is needed for finding ways to navigate the larger and longer term things such as the future of your work situation and managing your home space longer term with changing use – work at home, distance learning for students, etc.

These approaches can condition your brain to tap into your creativity easily. Give these a try:

  • Expect yourself to be creative. Nurture the mindset that there are ways to address whatever you are facing that will be positive and fulfill the needs expressed. In other words, don’t give up.
  • Start an Idea Catcher or Idea Journal. Capture ideas you have about anything, whether they apply to immediate situations or not. By doing so you are reinforcing your recognition that you are creative – and you will also have things to consider acting upon in the future.
  • Have a virtual sharing session with a few people. We can be inspired by others and inspire them in return. This takes it a step beyond one-on-one conversations you may be having. Use whatever tool or platform works for you – Zoom, Google Meet, etc. You may want to choose a specific topic like how each of you are managing some shared concern or situation. Or it could be a sharing session about how each person/family has innovated to meet the changes of the past few months. There is value in naming, acknowledging and celebrating what you all have done to manage and thrive!
  • Have a virtual brainstorming session. Invite people who are dealing with or anticipating the same situation, for example ways to provide support for distant parents when travel is not advisable. Or creative ways to celebrate upcoming holidays safely. These interactions and exchange of ideas can help you re-focus on the creative ideas that work best for you and help you narrow down your options.
  • Focus on fractals for a few minutes one or more times a day. Take photos of some you see in nature and post them where you can see them regularly. It can both relieve stress and free your mind to be creative. (See my blog post here: https://carolbrusegar.com/use-nature-and-fractals-to-reduce-overwhelm-and-stress/ )
  • Practice asking yourself “What if….” questions that focus on positive possibilities like “What if making dinner every night is a positive, interactive activity for the family?” (The alternative is “What if making dinner is another disaster of complaining and whining?”)  Or if you are alone, “What if I learn a new craft that I enjoy?” (Rather than “What if I sit here in front of the television all day again every day this week?) The positive questions shift our thinking in amazing ways and ideas can flow easily.
  • Meditate for 5 minutes, using whatever technique works for you.
  • Deep breathe throughout the day. https://carolbrusegar.com/deep-breathing-for-stress-relief/

We are by nature creative. By nurturing our creativity we can enhance our lives now and in any situation in the future. As we look forward, creativity is going to be necessary on every level. This reality shaking time opens up possibilities for innovation that can be life affirming at all levels. I, for one, intend to expand my creative skills to take advantage of this.  Two resources I recommend are the following:

Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you are feeling fear about the future and your ability to creatively live in the coming months and years, this can be inspiring and helpful.

The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp.  Included are simple exercises that can expand your creative thinking as you go about your daily life.

 

 

 

Journaling Techniques to Boost Your Creativity

Journal and CoffeeWhatever our situation, stage of life, or needs, creativity is a valuable skill. On a personal level as well as in our jobs and groups and institutions in which we are involved, there’s a continual need for creative approaches and solutions.

Journaling can be a tool to expand creativity. Simply writing has great power to bring ideas, possibilities and breakthroughs. Yet, it is easy to get into a pattern – even a rut – with our journaling by doing it the same way continually. And many people either don’t journal at all or sporadically.

Here are some ways to diversify journalers’ practices that can activate new creativity and perhaps inspire non-journalers to try some of these different approaches.

Drawing

You don’t have to be a graphic designer or an artist to use this technique. Simply pick up a pencil or colored pencils/pens and start drawing. You don’t need to have a specific subject in mind, or you may give yourself a topic or a problem that you want to creatively address.

It isn’t about drawing something perfectly – it doesn’t matter how the drawing looks. What matters is that you’re taking the time to just let your creativity flow. Don’t worry about any “rules” and draw whatever comes to mind. You may be surprised what appears.

Use Mixed Media

Mixed media journaling is basically using different types of content. For part of the journal you’ll jot down your ideas, then you can use pictures, ticket stubs and potentially even drawing to inspire your creativity.

Use the Power of Music  

Have you ever noticed just how much of an impact music can have on your creativity? It can really help to play some uplifting or inspiring music while writing or drawing in your journal.

You’ll find as the music plays, you’ll start to experience numerous emotions. Thoughts will also automatically pop into your head – write these down.

It can also help if you listen to the music through headphones as this will block out all other noises, allowing you to be fully immersed in the music.

Try Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a fairly new journaling technique which can work wonders for creative people. It’s a visual style journal – you record your ideas in a visual way.

For example, write down the main theme of your idea or topic, draw a big circle around it, then think of other ideas which relate to it. You then connect your sub ideas to the main idea. Allowing your mind to see and expand on connections can open up new vistas of thought.

Brainstorm

Brainstorming is simply rapidly generating a variety of ideas or possible solutions. It is most commonly used in a group setting, but individuals can use it effectively as well.  Simply focus on the topic you are addressing and write down every idea without worrying about how doable or realistic they are.  Just let the ideas flow. Keep writing, even keep your pen moving when you think you are empty. It’s likely more things will rise to the surface.  A second step after all the ideas are on paper is to either do some traditional journaling about some of the most intriguing thoughts.  This could be augmented by mindmapping.

May your creativity and creative problem solving be expanded by using these techniques.

If you want to explore additional creativity ideas, check out:   21 Ways to Skyrocket Your Creativity

21 Ways to Skyrocket Your Creativity ("21 Ways" Book 5) by [Laidig, Tony]

Need More Clarity, Creativity and Focus?

woman writing in journal

Are you feeling some overwhelm during these unusual times? Many of us are.  In this this time of limitation and many unknowns,  you may want to consider a routine I found in this article: “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”  It provides a way to both focus and to boost creativity.

The author Benjamin Hardy reminds us of Napoleon Hill’s words, “Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you sleep.”  If that is the reality, it may be a really good idea to focus that work for our benefit.  How does that work? Hardy again quotes Hill: “The subconscious mind will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available.”

Sounds like a good idea to me, then, to harness that power. Part of the routine described in the article has to do with using a few minutes before you go to bed and within 10 or so minutes of waking up to do the suggested activities.  For many of us, checking our electronic devices fill that space both before bed and first thing in the morning.  As we do that, we are focusing on input into our thoughts and consciousness.  This approach instead puts our attention to output from our subconscious to our conscious in a targeted way. It expands our creativity.

Try This Routine

To summarize the two parts of the routine, Hardy suggests we:

  1. “Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish. Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing….make some ‘requests.’ Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the more clear will be your answers.
  2. “Now, first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned, after its subconscious workout while you slept, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.”

You can include any areas of your life – relationships, work, life balance, or anything else you want to address. Perhaps start with one topic. This approach is a routine and also a skill to develop and in which to become proficient. As with all routines or habits, it is a good idea to commit to practicing it for a minimum of 21 days in order to assess its effectiveness for you. I would love to hear how this works for you! 

For more details, you can read the entire article here:  “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”

And you can see the books Benjamin Hardy has written here: Books by Benjamin Hardy, PhD