Cranking Up Your Problem-Solving Creativity

Do you consider yourself to be creative? Perhaps you say no because you can’t paint or make music or sculpt. Creativity is MUCH broader than that. It’s about finding new ways to solve problems and finding ways to approach the situations we face. All of us are creative. It’s a survival skill. And we can become MORE creative in all areas of our lives. Cranking up your problem-solving creativity can make a huge difference.

Here we are in mid-2022, another year in the COVID-19 pandemic. The list of national issues that affect our lives directly and indirectly is long. The future is uncertain in many ways. And we are trying to live our lives in the midst of it all. People are responding to all of this in various ways – some with anger, depression, withdrawal and others with determination and positive energy. Probably most of us alternate among these reactions or are somewhere in between.

Given the unique nature of the convergence of these elements, cranking up our problem-solving creativity is important to our thriving. But it’s hard to be creative when we are under pressure or overwhelmed. It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention, and there certainly is truth in that. On the other hand, you may have experienced – as I have – that my mind can be paralyzed in that kind of situation. What’s the difference? It could very well be our mindset.

Make Sure You Start With a Positive Mindset

It’s easy to have a negative mindset in challenging situations. This definitely hampers our ability to do our best problem solving. So before tackling a situation, make sure that you are coming from a positive view. If all you see is doom and gloom, if it seems hopeless, if you are just tired of struggling, this is the first step to effectively addressing what’s going on. Shift how you look at things to alter your thought process and open your mind to more options.

How do you do this? Begin with saying positive affirmations like:  I am creative, I easily come up with new solutions, my mind is open to unique solutions, I have navigated hard times before, etc. Say them multiple times throughout your day and see the difference. You can also seek out positive quotes to inspire you. Google can help you find them. Just search for quotes about creativity, or quotes about surviving tough times, or any topic that fits your situation. Print them and post them where you will see them regularly and/or make them a picture on your phone.

You can also do this exercise: practice looking at things from a different perspective. How would someone else view it? It could be a friend, someone with different life experience, a parent or grandparent, etc. You may be surprised at what this shift can do to go beyond your current thoughts.

Another suggestion is to take a situation and practice detaching from the emotion of it. Instead of being immersed in the feelings you have surrounding that, step back and jot down the facts of the situation. What are the elements? Who is involved? How did this start? Is it temporary and will pass with time? Pretend you are an outside consultant who brings objectivity.

Practice allowing yourself to look at the situation without boundaries. Don’t immediately search for a ‘sensible’ solution. Look for something out of the ordinary. This allows your creative juices to flow. Let your mind wander. Look at the problem from all angles. Remind yourself that you have navigated many challenges before and you can do it again.

Collect Resources That Can Help You

One of the by-products of the extended impact of the pandemic is that our usual practices of communication and support with others were drastically changed. Even as things have opened up, it is still different. I wrote about nurturing creativity about six months into the pandemic here: http://carolbrusegar.com/nurturing-creative-thinking/

Several approaches to increasing our creativity were highlighted there, including initiating sharing conversations and brainstorming sessions with others on specific topics. Other people can be our greatest resources. You can do this virtually, as suggested in the above post, or now in person. One of the advantages of virtual is that you can include people who don’t live near you. Each of us have unique perspectives and resource ideas and connections. We don’t have to struggle alone!

Keeping a running list of ideas on various topics can aid in cranking up our problem-solving creativity. Perhaps you think you don’t have many ideas. Or perhaps you know you do but think that they are impractical or don’t apply now. In either case, I challenge you to try using an Idea Journal. Capture ideas you have about anything. This reinforces your recognition that you are creative – and seeds the expectation that you can solve things creatively. You will be amazed after doing this regularly how many ideas you have. Some you will use, many you won’t use. The largest benefit is illustrating to yourself that you are indeed creative.

Cranking up your problem-solving creativity is essential, enjoyable and can make a huge difference every day. If you want to learn more, check out these books:

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.

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

 

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Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!

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.

 

I’m Carol Brusegar, author, photographer and curator of information. My focus is on gathering and writing on topics that enhance all our lives – regardless of our age. Topics include health and wellness, personal development, innovation and creativity, and a variety of helpful, practical tools and practices. I have a special interest in helping people over 50 years of age to create their 3rd Age – the next stage of their lives – to be the best it can be.

           Follow me on Twitter!     Follow me on Instagram!   Follow me on Pinterest!

                                    Follow me on Facebook!         Visit my Etsy Shop!

 

 

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]