03 Mar Improve creativity with these four things
American inventor Elias Howe was struggling to find a design for the needle for his sewing machine which was almost ready. In a dream, he saw himself facing death for failing to find the design and he was later stabbed with a spear. He noticed that the spear had a hole in the tip and this is where he got the idea for the needle.
Paul McCartney of the Beatles heard the tune of a song–`Yesterday’- in a dream; the song went on to become a big hit.
There are many such examples of creators having found inspiration in the most unusual of sources.
We generally bunch artists, writers, sculptors, architects, inventors under the umbrella term `creative’. But everyone is required to be creative in their life and can be. A car mechanic might be stuck with an automobile problem that cannot be resolved with the usual methods; a home-maker has children who are fussy about food and she has to think of some out-of-the-box ideas to keep them happy, a gardener might require a fix for a leaky pipe, a cook may have to whip up a meal at short notice for a large number of people. It could be a software programmer trying to streamline his program, a street food seller who wants to increase his sales, a newspaper publisher who wants to sell more ad space. All it takes is one good idea. How do we come upon that one good idea?
- Let go: Tried holding sand in your hand? If you clutch the sand tight, some of it escapes from between your fingers. But if you relax, more of it stays in your hands. In Yoga, there is the concept of `vihar’ i.e. relaxation; it is considered vital to good health and, as we know, relaxation also helps the imagination soar. Asanas, pranayamas, particularly abdominal breathing aid relaxation.
Sometimes trying too hard for that elusive solution is just not the right way to do it. Sometimes it’s best to just let go and let the unconscious take over. If we focus too hard, our left logical mind is at work, but if you relax then your right intuitive side takes over and that’s where you might find your solution, your song, your recipe, your work of art. The trick is to shift your attention to something else; play a game, listen to some music, take a shower, eat something you like, go for a drive, watch the sunset; sometimes your best ideas will come and tap you on the shoulder when you have stopped looking for them.
This could also happen when you’re sleeping; your conscious mind that was trying too hard is resting and the unconscious takes over. A good night’s rest can help you be more productive and creative. Basically, just unplug.
- Read, talk, collaborate: Put your ahamkara out of the way. A lot of people prefer to do all their work by themselves because it boosts their ego. One very practical and down-to-earth way is to talk to a lot of people, to read a lot on the subject, get more inputs and ideas from others. Your mind will then automatically go to work and churn these inputs around like a mixer-grinder and chances are you will find that solution you are looking for.
Read up on topics you have believed are not interesting; you might be surprised to find out how interesting they really are and this could get your mind ticking, your curiosity could be aroused, your sense of awe kicks off and you find yourself motivated and inspired to start afresh.
- Walk: Walking is not just good to jolt you out of your sedentary lifestyle, walking is not just good for diabetics, it also boosts your creativity. At most workplaces, when people find themselves stuck for ideas, the tendency is to call for a meeting, huddle together in the boardroom and brain-storm. But according to research conducted by the Stanford university, walking meetings are a better idea. Walking improves creative thinking and people find themselves more engaged in the topic.
- Learn to fail: Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper because he was accused of `lack of imagination.’ From there, he rose to great heights. Most of us hold ourselves back because we fear failure, we fear being ridiculed or laughed at by our friends. But its ok to fail; it’s the only way to learn. All of us learnt to walk by falling; if we had been self-conscious we would have never learnt to walk. Cultivate the yogic feeling of aishwarya (self-confidence) to free yourself from the fear of failure.
So there they are: relax, talk, walk and fail, and find your creative solution.