HOW TO BOOST YOUR CREATIVITY
So here are some insights on being more creative, distilled from the experiences of some great masters.
PRACTICE NEGATIVE CAPABILITY
The first powerful insight comes from the great English poet John Keats. Keats explained the creative process in the following way. The world, he said, is far more complex than our imagination. Our senses and rational faculties can only help us to see a small portion of reality. Additionally, things in the world are not static, they are constantly changing which means reality is in a state of flux. Our words and thoughts are unable to grasp the nature of this rapidly changing reality. Therefore the only solution for an enlightened person to pierce through reality is by letting the mind absorb itself completely in what it experiences, without having to form a judgment on what it all means. What it signifies is that the mind feels doubt and uncertainty as long as it. Such a skeptical and open approach will allow more dimensional and real ideas to rush into the mind as opposed to the shallow ones that would have come if the mind had quickly jumped to conclusion and judgement.
But to achieve such openness, Keats said, would be impossible unless we negate our own ego. Why? It’s because we humans are naturally fearful and insecure. We are afraid of the unknown and unfamiliar. To make up for these fears we develop ideas and opinions that make us seem strong and certain. But most often these are often borrowed from elders or peers, and nor a result of deep reflection. As time passes by we also develop emotional attachment to these ideas. We think if we leave these opinions our personalities might disintegrate. Additionally, considering the possibility of any flaw in these ideas would be damaging for our egos and vanity. Therefore we close our minds to any new ideas. But truly creative people can abandon their ego for the time being. For them, their love of new ideas and discovered surpasses their petty victories over others. They can entertain new ideas without feeling insecure and having an urge to judge it as foreign. They are ready to challenge their most cherished ideas and beliefs. This ability to endure and embrace mysteries and uncertainties is what Keats called Negative capability.
If you study the life of great creative thinkers you’ll see that when they hit upon an issue they did not rush to generalize and judge. Instead they continued to probe for various explanations for a long period of time which was exactly practicing negative capability in which you let your mind roam free and catch ideas. For example. For example Einstein came up with the theory of relativity after ten long years of rigorous thinking. Charles Darwin spent almost 20 years after his return from Galapagos Islands developing his theory of evolution that would ultimately change the course of our civilization. We find it difficult to focus on something for even one hour, can you even imagine how these great people could keep in thinking on a topic for so long. The reason is that human mind has limitless capabilities and once you focus it on something, it will begin to miraculously pierce through that and uncover realities that are almost mysterious for others. But during that time period you must be practicing negative capability that is letting go if your tendency to come to conclusions and make snap judgements.
Developing negative capability can be a game changer when it comes to sparking your creativity. Because normally we try to entertain ideas that will confirm our preconceived notions and beliefs. Unconsciously we are attracted towards the data and conclusions that confirm your biases. This is called confirmation bias. But negative capability sets you free of this confirmation bias opening you up to new avenues of thought that you were too afraid to try.
To practice negative capability you must cultivate one necessary trait. To suspend the need to judge everything that crosses your path. In this way, you will be able to consider ideas contrary to your own. You observe a person or an event for a length of time forcing yourself to not judge it. You actively seek out what is unfamiliar and unknown, possibly anything to break up your normal train of thinking.
Of course it will not be a permanent state of mind because if you want to come up with a definite piece of work, you have to decide and come to conclusions. But only after you have opened your mind to various possibilities for a good amount of time, so that it leads you to such a creative avenue of thought where you can give your ideas a clear shape.
The human brain inevitably makes connections between the information it already has and the new one. It is constantly searching for similarities, differences, and relationships between what it processes. This natural inclination of brain is a great tool that you can use in your creative pursuits. But as this process takes place at the level of your unconscious brain, all you need to do is to create the optimal conditions for the brain to make unique and original associations that will be the peak of your creative potential.
You might have heard that some of the biggest discoveries and creative breakthroughs in history occurred when then the thinker was not even concentrating directly on the problem but was instead doing a normal activity like drifting off to sleep, getting on a bus, or even laughing at a joke. Such unexpected discoveries are called serendipity—the occurrence of something unexpected when something seemingly irrelevant enters the mind and triggers a new and fertile connection.
Actually what happens is that when we are working on a project or thinking about something really important, we are entirely focused on the task at hand? We become extremely tense so that our mind reduces the number of stimuli we have to deal with. We literally close ourselves off from the world just to concentrate on what is necessary. This intense focus has the unintended consequence of making it impossible for us to focus and see other possibilities, to be more open and creative. On the other hand, when we are in a relaxed state, for example taking a walk or hearing a joke, the mind is in a much more relaxed state, it can allow other stimuli to enter and thus causes the unconscious mind to make unique and amazing connections.
But you must know you cannot force these moments instead you have to create a fertile ground for them. You can do it by taking two steps.
Firstly , when you are working on a project, you must widen you search as much as possible. You have to look at more than is generally required. You need to expand your search into other fields reading and absorbing any related information. If you reach a theory or a hypothesis, you must examine as many example and potential counterexamples as humanly possible. The result of this would be that the brain will become increasingly excited and stimulated by the variety of information. A mental momentum is generated in which a slightest chance occurrence will generate a fertile new connection, a whole new idea.
The second step is to maintain an openness and looseness of spirit. After moments of intense focus and tension, you allow yourself moments of release. You can take walks, engaged in activities other than your work, thinking about any other thing, no matter how trivial. During these unstrained moments, when a new idea enters your mind, you do not ignore it because it does not fit the narrow frame of your mind, instead, you give it full attention and explore where it leads you.