We are all creative. It's how we change the world. Creative thinking is what separates humans from all other animals. You might call it being in the zone or thinking outside the box. It's a way of thinking that allows you to create and invent new concepts - such as art, technology, literature, music, experiments or philosophies.
My primary creative outlet is writing. As a teenager I wrote short stories and poems. Later I worked as a financial journalist and wrote investment articles. Nowadays I channel my words into my websites. I have always felt the need to make sense of things and write them down, to help elucidate the world for others. It's my way of expressing myself.
Creativity doesn't have to be limited to literature or the arts. You may experience your greatest creative moments during computer programming, for example. It can be a right-brained or a left-brained process and can show up in many forms, such as:
It doesn't matter what your primary outlet is - as long as you tap into it on a regular basis. Otherwise you are squandering the very thing that makes you human.
Creative thinking is a surprisingly automatic process, often surpassing the need for judgment or analytical thinking and allowing gut instinct to take the lead. My best articles arise from me sitting at the computer focused and tapping away and paying no attention to the outside world. I could, in a sense, be sleepwalking. I don't stop to think and ponder every sentence before I write it down - I just type and it pours out onto the screen. I completely forget about my dogs who are sniffing and wuffling and playing at my feet. If Pete disturbs me I invariably snap at him. I notice the same thing happening when he makes his digital music - he's completely zoned in on the computer.
Being in this state of mind is exhausting but also exhilarating. I believe it's our life purpose to experience the world and translate it into our own creations, which then go on to mould other people's experiences and better their creations. So creative thinking is an essential part of living and helps fulfill your life purpose.
Here are three reliable ways to enter and maintain a state of creative thinking when inspiration strikes you:
By hitting a nerve, you can tap into the thing that motivates you the most to develop your idea or creation. Why are you doing this? What's your reward?
I'm motivated by the idea of spreading ideas and changing the way people feel. Hopefully for the better. Today I was inspired by the idea that we are all creators - and this is how humanity evolves. It may happen slowly or rapidly, accidentally or deliberately. So by encouraging others to think creatively, I can, in my own small way, help humanity evolve faster. We all can, when we share our creativity. Like dropping a single pebble into a pond, you create ripples.
Perhaps you can create a piece of music that will make someone's heart sing? Or paint a picture that makes them want to become an artist? Or tell a joke that makes them laugh? You can use your creativity to make the world a better place. That's pretty good motivation on its own.
Distractions are annoying and hinder the creative thinking process. If I have to stop to answer the phone or think about what I'm making for dinner - my train of thought is lost. I may be able to pick it up again but it wont be from exactly the same point. That particular line of thought may be lost forever. So while you're in the zone, avoid distractions - especially talking to other people or thinking about non-related things.
There is an exception to this rule - but it's more of a timed distraction. It involves switching between your right and left brain to allow for a different type of creative input. Sometimes when I have been at the computer for hours I literally run out of steam. I lose the ability to concentrate and need a break. But I don't want to leave the zone, so I do something that allows my left-hand brain to rest while my right-brain stays focused on the task at hand.
I take a shower or clean up the kitchen or walk the dogs - anything mundane and automatic that still allows me to think freely. Doing such a mindless task allows my right-hand brain to kick in with a whole host of new angles which my overbearing left-hand brain was repressing.
The goal is to allow myself to jumping from idea to idea, but without judging them or reigning them in just because they might seem too silly. Some of the silliest ideas can evolve into something more realistic if only you give it the chance. So find ways to shush your left-brain when you need creative inspiration to strike.
Everyday life is not that conducive to creative thought. We get swept up in boring jobs and meetings and television - and some days there seems little need to think outside the box at all.
Fortunately many people discover creative thinking through their hobbies, if not through their careers. It's the reason why people play musical instruments or enjoy puzzle-solving computer games, and why most of us feel we have a novel in us. Creativity is second nature to all of us but this instinct does require some nurturing, or it is overtaken by another instinct altogether: being lazy.
Humans spent tens of thousands of years living in caves and jungles and allowing creativity to be a largely accidental process. In the last century, the tenacious pursuit of science and technology has forced many people into deliberate creative thought - and just look at the speed at which we progress now. There are billions of people on this planet, inspired by each other's creations and building upon their inventions to create a better world for ourselves and for future generations.
This pace of change is driven by two forces: our culture, which allows us to pass on information to the next generation, and our technology, which allows us to build better platforms to express our creativity. Just look at how those ripples in the pond are amplified by the internet and social media. These are powerful tools to propagate new ideas and inventions around the world in a matter of hours. There has never been a better time to develop your own creative thinking skills and make your contribution to the world.
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So here's a quirky little nighttime oddity that can strike terror into your soul. Sleep paralysis. It's the mechanism that stops you from acting out your dreams. It happens to you every single time you go to sleep, and you've probably never even been aware of it. There's a lot to say about sleep paralysis. One the one hand, it's a very normal bodily process. One the other, it can be a terrifying sleep disorder. And on the third hand (yes, that's three hands now) it's the gateway to the lucid dream world. It covers quite the spectrum of emotions.
Want to get your hands on some futuristic technology? Then why not use your lucid dreams to explore new scientific concepts and developments? In fact, it's thought that numerous well-known scientists including Nikola Tesla exploited their dreams to simulate theories and prototypes in action. Here are five futuristic concepts to get your dream cogs in motion.
So you want a real challenge for your next lucid dream? Check out these thought experiments. They have no right or wrong answers, at least as far as we can prove in 2015. If you undertake any of these - please add a comment below. The beauty is that everyone's experience will be different and I'm eager to read your results.
So you want to know the easiest way to start lucid dreaming? You found it. I've been lucid dreaming since I was 14 years old. Over the years, I've researched a lot about lucid dream induction. I have practiced many different exercises and developed my own ways to become lucid and stay conscious in the dream state for longer. The following is a snapshot of all that work. It's my big picture take on lucid dreaming for beginners, whittled down into 5 sensible steps to prime your mind for lucid dreams.
Everyone knows that horror movies beget nightmares. But did you know that peak nightmare experiences are a common trigger of lucidity? It's like the terror of realizing you're about to be ripped to pieces by the knife monster shocks you into realizing you're dreaming. So next time you're writhing about in a nightmare scenario, or screaming at yourself to wake up, take a second to focus your energy on declaring the dream for what it is: a harmless rendering of your innermost thoughts and fears. Lucidity is then yours.
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?