Where do creative ideas come from?
If you were to seek the answer yourself, rather than read this post, you might sit down and ponder, "Hmm, let me think about this for a while." But there are two problems with that: 1) Answers are more likely to come with action, so don’t sit down (there’s an exception, which I’ll get to in a bit), and 2) Creative ideas don't come from "thinking."
From Action to Answers
Let’s break this down and talk about action first. To find the solution to something you haven’t figured out yet, your best bet is to engage yourself in another activity. Forget about “looking” for an answer. Just keep the question in the back of your mind. How often is it that we make discoveries when we are engaged in simple, routine actions, such as washing the dishes, taking a shower, weeding the garden, or mowing the lawn?
Allowing yourself to become engaged in repetitive, almost mesmerizing action enables the creative center of your brain to step up to the forefront. You find your body working at your activity, but since you are weeding (or washing, or jogging) and not actively “thinking,” you’re able to access that stream of consciousness. You can often chart your train of thought in these instances, to show how your relaxed ponderings resulted in your arriving at just the answer you were looking for. However, sometimes this happens so fast, you might not remember how you got there, and simply experience an instant revelation: “ Ah! I’ve got it!”
There is an exception I want to mention, which is when perfect solutions surface when you’re falling asleep, just waking up or--for some people—when they are roused in the middle of the night, suddenly knowing a solution. The explanation for this has more to do with the second part of this post, so keep reading.
Highly innovative people know that action works. Steve Jobs was known for his “walking meetings,” where he’d walk and talk with other business people, in the same way he took long walks alone. While he also learned meditation techniques and was a proponent of other workers learning to reduce “mind chatter,” going quiet and becoming an observer is only one part of the equation. The other part comes in when we connect with that more soul-centered part of ourselves. This is why you can participate in a long, calm-inducing walk, but when you do it in nature, at your favorite mountain trail or other awe-inspiring location, the rest of the magic happens.
Creativity Comes From Feeling
Creativity doesn’t come from the mind. So if you attempt to think, and think, and think about how to write that headline, or which shapes are the best for your design project, or why that mousetrap you constructed is missing its mark, you’d be engaging yourself in a mental process that might likely end in frustration and a dead end. The mind tries to replicate creativity, but it will fail.
Once you realize that the energy of creativity is not sourced from the brain, but from the essence of your being, which is sourced from your heart—your feeling center—you will discover that when you follow how you feel about your project, then all the elements will fall into place effortlessly. So when you take that long walk on the mountain trail, you are feeding your very essence with the beauty of that natural area you love so much, and when combined with your movement, your solutions will simply appear!
Drifting off (or drifting back) while in bed, as an exception, is a time of non-action when you are likely to have creative ideas come to you, because it is at this time—those moments on the cusp of the sleep state—when you are closest to your true inner self. Your inner Self is that part of you which is the soul part, housed in the mystery realm. It is not in your brain. Your Self is not defined by how you use your mind every day, with the knowledge and experiences that you learned through education, life and work.
The reason why your creative projects display unique features of who you are is because the elements of those creations came from connecting with your true, inner Self—not from connecting with the mental knowledge of the brain.
So stop thinking and start feeling, and let me know how it turns out!
This article Copyright © Cheryl E. Kraynak