Happy New Year!
Last fall – which already seems like ages ago – I took a creativity class at the Tate Modern. The class was made up of an eclectic mix of people including a doctor, an accountant and, of course, writers and artists.
Some were taking the class to transition from one occupation to another. Others, like me, were just curious and wanted to gain some tips on refreshing our brains.
I loved the class. Half of the class took place in a familiar setting – a large room with seats all around – and the second half took place in the Tate Modern galleries so we had all that art to ourselves without the crowds!
It was sheer bliss to look at an art piece without craning my neck or dipping in front of someone to get a good look.
Of course, everyone brought their own experiences to whatever piece we were looking at which was a wonderful way to understand the art or photograph or sculpture.
It was refreshing to hear and see how others saw the same piece of work. It’s always a wonderful experience to try on someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. I enjoy questioning my way of seeing things and discovering the many ways I haven’t even thought of.
Here are tips I found helpful in the class.
One of the five core personality dimensions is openness. It reflects how much you are motivated to consider new ideas, concepts and experiences. The most creative people are typically very open.
When you encounter a new idea, listen to it or read it through but don’t engage with it right away. Instead, put it aside for a day and come back to it later. When you read it again, it will feel more familiar based on the mere exposure effect.
Mere exposure is the observation that we like things better after we have seen them once before. Let that familiarity help you open yourself up to new prospects.
Practice asking questions
Whenever you want to think about a problem or situation differently, you have to ask your memory a different question.
The most creative people don’t settle on a single way to think about a problem. Instead, they keep finding new descriptions of that problem and allow their memory to find more information to help solve it. The more questions they ask, the more creative ideas they have.
In one exercise, we used a pair of dice to determine the outcome of our activities. It was so much fun. No one knew what would be next and it kept us in a state of engagement.
I remember talking with a detective once who said he could pretty well predict a person’s activities if he observed them over a 24-hour time frame. They had the same breakfast, took the same route to work and generally did the same things day in and day out.
Take time to shake yourself out of a routine and practice a bit of randomness. As Albert Einstein, the master of creativity, said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
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