Do you know creativity is a skill that can be nurtured, or like many people out there you still believe that it is a mysterious process only possessed by very special people? Many people are curious about the origins of that creative spark that is the base of a creative piece of work. But whenever they are asked about the origin or the source of creativity, the most probable answer is: ‘something mystical’ i.e. people believe that it comes from some mystical place. But this is not true, Creativity is just like anything else, it’s a rules-based action we are able to perform subconsciously – through directed thought. There are many ways through which ideas for new and innovative things can be generated. Whenever people connect the dots by looking backward, they might be able to make curious combinations by connecting those dots in a unique and innovative way that no one could do before. Because ideas are the sum total of all experiences i.e. ideas are born out of experiences, so at the base of creative thinking there are those experiences that a person captures. So, by looking backward and by connecting the dots, a person might observe something atypical and this is where creative ideas originate from.
Experiences as a source to creativity: Our idea for anything depends upon the experiences of our life, so our creativity is the product of the experiences captured. Neuroscientific studies have not specified any part of the brain that solely functions for creativity, different regions of the brain work together to support the creative thinking process. Moreover, creative thinking skills are not so genetic, they can be learned and depend upon many different things internal as well as external like your experiences captured. Our brain makes connections for our experiences that we capture every day, the more and more we experience in an area, the stronger neural connection our brain would be able to make in that area that enables us to come up with new, unique and original ideas in that area.
Unconscious thought processes as a source of creativity: Research supports the idea that distractions lead to creativity. Because when we get distracted from a thing we are supposed to focus on, our brain subconsciously continues to work on that idea. Even when we take a deliberate break after getting tired or when we get distracted unconsciously, the subconscious mind keeps working on those ideas and when we come back to that task again, we may come up with better and innovative ideas and solutions. In a research project, a team of researchers had been working in order to find evidence of the power of incubation to enhance creativity. The researchers experimented on three groups of undergraduate students. Each group was assigned to complete a creativity test. The outcomes were: the group who took a break but worked on unrelated tasks was able to generate the most ideas; the group who took a break with related tasks was at number second in total number of ideas generated and the group who generated the least ideas was the one who worked on the given task continuously without a break.
So, the research team was convinced of the idea that incubation periods significantly enhance a person’s creativity. Because when we take a break, our subconscious starts working on that idea and when we revert back to that task, our unconscious thought processes in combination with conscious thought processes help us discover new possibilities in that area.
Creativity sparks creativity: Creativity is a muscle, it becomes stronger with effort. The more you indulge in creative thinking activities, the stronger your creativity thinking skills become over time. Research supports the idea, the more creative activities you engage in, the more neural connections your brain makes that enable you to become more creative over time. In a research study, the brains of the participants were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging while they had been answering the quiz questions. The outcomes found on FMRI were: the increased activity in the associative parts of the brain of those participants that were able to present unique and original ideas. This is the region that functions in the background when the person does not concentrate like we do in daydreaming. And this does not work alone to generate an original idea, the region that got simultaneously activated and was seen on FMRI was ‘administrative control region’. This rather more conservative area is held responsible for dealing with social norms and rules. Research further supported the idea that the stronger the collaboration between these two regions, the more original ideas emerge.
So, the researchers concluded that there is a brain region that is responsible for generating original ideas but that region does not work alone, this requires cooperation from another region of the brain that is responsible for interpreting that idea and these two regions need to be activated simultaneously to come up with an original idea.
So, the increased brain activity helps you become more creative and this is how creativity sparks creativity.
Curious combinations and something atypical: Creativity is neither all about eureka moments, nor about something so mysterious. It’s when you look at things differently i.e. when you change the angle of looking at something, you get new perspectives that help you come up with new and creative ideas. When people start looking for something atypical, the process of creativity originates.
The bottom line is creativity is not a mysterious thing at all, it is a process that originates by looking at things differently – it’s when you start finding atypical. Think differently in order to take a first and foremost step towards boosting your creativity.
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