Everyone agrees that creativity is an important quality to have in order to succeed in any profession. Not only that, creative individuals positively affect the whole world, as did Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. There is no doubt that creativity indirectly benefits mankind, but is this intuitive notion correct? How could writing poetry or doodling cartoons assist Albert Einstein with his role in the creation of the atom bomb? Clearly, it wouldn’t help him in any significant way. There is a certain creative process that needs to be exercised in order to translate meaningless ideas into useful ones; I call this type of creativity: “constructive creativity.“
Here are 5 tips to being more creative in a meaningful way.
Make analogies and connections. You need to constantly make analogies and connections with anything that pops in your head. Doing this exercise will not only help you better understand complicated concepts, but also make you more creative! Connecting two concepts together can inspire innovative ideas. For example, letting your friends borrow money is analogous to a human ATM. Let’s take that a step further – what if it was possible to be an actual human ATM. Now imagine if they had wallets that had functions similar to that of an ATM. If someone owes you money, they could just swipe your wallet with their credit/debit card. And with just that analogy, I came up with a startup idea.
Philosophize. Philosophizing is creative thinking with a logical groundwork. Use the rigorous foundation of philosophy to ponder the mysteries in your domain of study. Many scientific theories have been inspired by philosophy. A popular scientific philosophy is String Theory. A sense of wonder wasn’t the only thing that gave rise to String Theory. The logical nature of philosophy guides the mathematicians and scientists in the right direction.
Consider the exact opposite. Being critical of everything is an excellent way to jump-start your brain. Seeing both sides of an argument gives you the motivation to think. Have you ever had someone critically scrutinize your opinion and ended up having a stronger stance than what you began with? Questioning your current beliefs will just break them down and build up new, stronger beliefs in place. Take conventional wisdom and try to argue in the complete opposite direction. This simple thought exercise will surprise you as to how much you will learn.
Say the obvious. There has been many times where a new invention or business pops up and we say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Ironically, the most obvious things are also the most looked over. When you have time to ponder, observe your surroundings and literally say the obvious. Let your inner captain obvious shine through and say whatever you observe (you might want to keep it to yourself for social reasons). This exercise won’t make you creative on its own merit; it should be used as a way to spark new ideas, you shouldn’t take a passive role.
Always ask why, and then answer it. Don’t be like the children who always ask why, because they can’t answer on their own. The trick is to let your own mind do the thinking to come at your own conclusion. This will get you accustomed to the different ways of solving problems. Keep trying to answer ‘why‘ until you come up with an answer that is hard to refute. After much practice, you will find yourself answering ‘why‘ faster and faster. Learning all sorts of different methods for solving problems will equip you with the mental algorithms for creatively solving harder problems in the future.
LIOR GOTESMAN thinks that constructive creativity is a skill that can be systematically improved. There, I just ruined your only legitimate excuse for smoking weed. Contact him at email@example.com.