When and Why

You may want to have creative ideas for all sorts of reasons. You may want to improve something that already exists – like making a noiseless vacuum cleaner. Or you may want to design a new product. Write a book, or start a business. Many of us want to change things and become more ourselves.

Creative people are often surprised – they are not bothered if do they not understand everything. They question what is obvious not to argue with it, but because they see the pitfalls with the explanations before others do. They can smell a problem before it has been discovered, and they can define what the problem is.

It is common to think that life unfolds in a deterministic way and that our lives are shaped in childhood. But when you are studying, other successful people you can see that a variety of roads has led to success in creative thinking. According to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, some people who later grew up to be creative thinkers began their lives as prodigies, others have had a completely normal childhood and development. Some had a happy childhood, others unhappy, and some knew early in life what they wanted to be, while others are discovered their passion late. The lack of a pattern punches holes in a deterministic approach to development of creative thinking and Csikszentmihalyi draws the conclusion that people do not form at once and for all either by genes or by events in his life.

All about Numbers

It is sometimes argued that  creativity is linked the number of neurons or nervcells in the brain. A butterfly has neurons, in its thorax (not the head). These are similar to the neurons in your own brain. But a butterfly would never design a dance to a nightingale’s song. Some people may argue that creativity is all about some mysterious stuff, but a lot can be explained the examining the number of neurons and how these are connected.  The neuron count between an insect and a human may be about a million to one in some cases. And this means that the differences in the number of possible connections are staggering.  Humans also often work together to solve problems which means that there are even more available neurons that can be involved in the idea generation.

ImitationCreativity means to find some new connections. It is more than recognising already established categories. You can also distinguish between creativity where you create new theories, ideas, and suggestions, and artistic creativity where self-expression is a vital ingredient.To learn something is the opposite to imitate behaviour or a solution. When someone imitates there is a direct copying without any questioning or modification. In learning, you evaluate what you are doing and then you modify and change the idea. Pure imitation produces a rough copy of the idea or solution.To imitate is not a good way to learn flexible and creative thinking. But it is easy to make it a habit to imitate. Many people are looking for something to imitate, and it is easy to lose confidence in your own capacity. Learning to think for yourself and trusting yourself is important. Mark Pagel, evolutionary biologist says that imitation can lead to infinite stupidity.

Language often plays a role in thinking. Yet, you can think in for example, symbols, signs, or images. Physicists may engage in combinatory play where they combine signs and images to make connections. Logical thinking can later be applied to explain the connections. Einstein’s idea that something can be in motion and at rest at the same time, does not appear from logical thinking. Visualising and blending ideas  lead to insights such as the general theory of relativity.

Permission to Explore

The belief that you can be creative and have ideas is not only a liberating feeling. It is also essential for the creative process. Giving yourself permission to explore ideas and to put them forward is not something that only should be allowed to certain people. Deliberate creativity means that you can use techniques and methods to generate ideas. There are roughly three approaches to deliberate creativity: Brainstorming, Lateral Thinking and TRIZ. Innovation – the implementing of ideas that have value – is a younger concept.

It is important to remember that ideas can be used as springboards to new ideas. Not every idea is valuable or possible to carry out, at least not at the moment Just like every sentence can be built up if you dare to put down the first word or syllable, ideas can also be worked on. Planning and giving yourself time to think and explore new ideas and search for better ideas of doing something. Embrace chances to develop ideas.

The idea to design a new packet holder for the bicycle appeared when someone had too much shopping and had to walk home. Rather than being frustrated the time spend walking home was used to design in the head different foldable packet holders.

Photo 1: Gold And 3d Ideas Text by Stuart MilesPhoto 2: By Copyright (c) 2003 Nicolas P. Rougier (Nicolas P. Rougier) [GPL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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