How to become more creative
One way to tap into your creativity is by crystallising thought out of “Aha! moments”.
In a Harvard Business Review article from October 12, 2016, Rock and Davis offered 4 Steps to Having More Aha Moments.
The four tips are based on the premise that “aha!” moments that spark brilliant, unexpected, solutions tend to crop up when our minds are quiet and our consciousness is at rest.
These “aha” moments are the only way to solve truly complex problems that are too big for our conscious mind to process, it is posited.
The authors state: “The good news is that these flashes of insight are not as random as they seem and can be fostered by specific conditions.
“For years, we’ve been noticing that the research supports four specific steps to take, to help you have more insights. Each of these steps helps you to notice new activations in your brain, which are the source of these creative moments.”
Notice quiet signals
Silence and solitude are crucial for nurturing precious eureka moments. Insights themselves can be thought of as quiet, below the din of everyday thought.
Researchers have recently begun to pay more attention to the benefits of quiet for insight. And findings published in Psychological Science links the ultra-quiet state of meditation to better decision making,
People in the study made smarter decisions after only 15 minutes of undisturbed time spent meditating because it made them more resistant to their own biases.
Aha! tip: No matter how busy you are, do your best to take breaks between meetings and find some alone time. Go to an empty conference room or, even better, leave the office and take a walk outside. (Walking might in fact spur your next insight, according to scientists.)
Internal focus often goes hand in hand with mind wandering – another crucial ingredient of the insight-generating recipe. Scientists have found mind wandering to be crucial for triggering insights.
Aha! tip: To stimulate optimal daydreaming conditions, don’t over-schedule your days. Rather, allow some downtime on a regular basis – even small doses can have a big impact. Try to turn your devices off for several hours a day – or several days a week if you can. This way your mind will be truly free to wonder and your brain won’t miss the next light-bulb moment when it happens.
Take a positive approach
The prospect of making an important decision can induce a great deal of anxiety, which, unfortunately, is the number-one enemy of creative insight. Research has shown that feeling even slightly happy, as opposed to anxious, is conducive to eureka moments and insightful problem solving. That’s because people tend to notice a wider range of information when they feel happy than when they feel concerned.
Aha! tip: If you are feeling grumpy when tackling a complex decision, do something to lift your spirits. Talking to a friend, going out to dinner or reading a book can bring a much needed breakthrough. Recent research has also shown that snoozing is a good way to deal with frustration. So take a daily nap to feel your best – your hard-working brain might thank you by sprouting a perfect solution after you wake up.
Use less effort
You have likely always been taught to think long and hard before making an important decision. But insights happen specifically when you are not actively making an effort to choose what to do.
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests stepping away from deliberation is key for quality decision-making,
Aha! tip: Remember to take a break from any decision-making process. And once you are taking it, do focus on something else. Exercise is a foolproof way to take your mind off work, so put a daily workout on your calendar the same way you would schedule a meeting with a client or boss.
In short, anything that enables you to notice quiet signals in the brain, or “weak activations” as they are called can increase the chances of insight.
By making a habit of leaving space for quiet time, being internally focused, taking a positive approach and not actively trying to have insight, we can all have more insights every day.
More insights help solve complex problems faster and that’s something we could all benefit from, whether we want to tweak a marketing campaign, solve a client challenge, or change the world.
Gayle Gorman is the CEO and a director of the Bermuda Clarity Institute. Learn more at www.bermudaclarityinstitute.com.