In previous articles, we discussed what creativity is and covered whether creativity can be learned or not.
This article with cover the two ways of thinking that occurs in the brain. It is important to understand the two thinking mechanisms in order to see how creativity works and become more creative.

1. Why Are Adults Less Creative?

why adults are less creative

Before we dive in, I want to quickly recap the previous article.

The reason why most adults are less creative compared to kids is because with increasing age and experience we are getting more narrow-minded.

Over time, we learn what works in life and what doesn’t. As a result, we ask less “what if” -questions that leads down the path of creativity.

While with growing experience our analytical brain is getting really good at dismissing ideas and pointing out the things that can’t work, we totally forget to use the other side that helps to generate ideas.

Compared to adults, the greatest advantage that kids have is the lack of experience . They look at everything from a neutral perspective and therefore they are much more likely to ask “stupid” questions .

Adults don’t ask stupid questions. Even if they wanted to, they simply won’t.

Our society is constructed in a way that it discourages people from asking weird questions.

How many times did you find yourself holding back from asking questions at work or in public because you were afraid of what others think?

Fear and social status are very strong influencers of behavior.

2. Divergent & Convergent Thinking

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The next thing we need to understand is how our brain is dividing the thinking process in two mechanisms: divergent thinking and convergent thinking.

In design, we call it the double-diamond process.

The double diamond process describes the process of exploring a challenge in multiple directions and then narrowing down possible solutions. You can visualize this as a two “diamond-shape”  process, hence the name.

double diamond process
  1. This process starts off with divergent thinking. This phase is about generating ideas.
  2. After the exploration phase, the best ideas are selected . Convergent thinking sets in.
  3. Based on the selected ideas, many solutions are explored . Divergent thinking helps again to explore different directions.
  4. Solutions are prioritized using convergent thinking.

3. Stop Driving With The Handbrake

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Most people are good at convergent thinking – their brain is trained to judge and criticize ideas immediately.

convergent thinking

Convergent thinking is necessary for evaluating ideas but counterproductive  when generating ideas. If divergent and convergent thinking happen at the same time , they will fight against each other.

It is like driving a car with an active handbrake .

Therefore, we must learn to delay the evaluation process until later after the idea generation phase is over. Only then can your mind wander freely and explore different directions and ideas.

How to defer convergent thinking?

The solution is simple, yet not easy .

You need to become aware of the moment when you begin to dismiss ideas quickly. Each time you catch yourself criticizing and dismissing ideas fast, you need to take a step back and ask yourself: “Wait, what if this idea could work?” or “What would it take to make this idea work?” .

The best way to retrain your brain is to ask follow-up questions that will open up your mind for new ideas.

This is a habit that takes time to build. You basically have to overwrite the way of thinking you’ve acquired over many years.

4. 3 Steps To Become More Creative

the creative brain

Now that you understand how your brain operates, I want to give you 3 Steps to become more creative. I believe it is important to have a holistic approach to achieve a more creative life:

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Step 1 – The Foundation
Creativity starts with your lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle nourishes the body and the mind.

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Step 2 – Knowledge Input
Embrace a generalist mindset. Expand your horizon and gain knowledge in different fields.

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Step 3 – Creative Output
Learn new skills and start creating things to push the creative boundaries of your mind.

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Step 1 – Create a healthy lifestyle

The level of creativity is greatly influenced by the level of your well-being and happiness.

It is not hard to imagine that people who are constantly under stress and live an unhealthy lifestyle, cannot perform at the highest level.

Neither physically nor mentally .

Therefore it is necessary to adopt positive habits to create a strong foundation so that your creativity can flourish.

Here are the most important things you need to improve first, so that your mind can operate at the highest level:

Get Good Sleep

Good Sleep has many beneficial health aspects and is proven to improve mental performance.

Eat Healthy

Healthy food not only nourishes your body, but also your mind.

Exercise Regularly

Keeping your body fit will benefit your mental health at the same time.

Relax Your mind

Creativity works best when your mind is relaxed. Meditation and quietness helps.

Design Your Environment

Make sure you create an environment that inspires you.

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Step 2 – Expanding Your Repertoire (Input)

Divergent thinking works best when you have a wide repertoire of knowledge and experiences to play with.

Creativity is about seeing hidden patterns and making sense of connections. By making connections between things that aren’t obviously related we are able to come up with new ideas.

To maximize creativity, it is important to become more open-minded and embrace new things:

Travel More

This is hands down the best way to boost creativity and get educated for life. I can’t stress enough how travel with open up your mind and accelerate your personal growth.

Make Reading A Habit

The entire knowledge of humanity is captured in a written form and there is nothing you can’t learn from books. Embrace books outside your comfort-zone can spark tremendous inspiration.

Expand Your Circles

Connecting with people outside your normal circles can lead to different conversations and serendipitous moments.

Join Random Events

The focus is on random . It is tempting to visit events with likeminded people, but from my personal experience, the most interesting conversations are happening at events you didn’t plan to go to.

Learn A New Language

Learning a new language can help to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture. Especially when you work with tandem partners.

Watch More Documentaries

The best way to get entertained and learn something new at the same time is by watching documentaries.

Listen To Podcasts

Podcasts and Audiobooks are great when you don’t have much time to sit down and read. It’s especially effective when you work out, because you catch two birds with one stone.

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Step 3 – Start Exploring & Experimenting (Output)

While the previous steps make up the foundation , this step is ultimately where you push the boundaries of your mind.

You cannot maximize your creativity if you are not taking action and engage yourself in hands-on exploration and experimentation.

Here are some ideas that will help you to become more creative:

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Create a side hustle
Starting a side hustle where you can experiment and do whatever you want without a boss giving you directions. And the good thing is, you can make additional income from it.

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Start Writing
Writing is a good exercise to improve creativity. You can start right away and don’t need to learn any artistic skills. Start with free writing and leet your mind wander.

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Redesign your Room
Your space has a tremendous impact on your psychology and creativity. You can start to re-organize your room and come up with some new layout that sparks creativity.

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Make time for play
Playing is an important part of human nature. Whether it is Minecraft, Lego or football. Make time for play to challenge your brain in a fun way.

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Embrace Tinkering
Awaken the little scientist in you. Tinkering and experimenting with new things is a great way to practice creative and out of the box thinking.

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Start a new hobby 
Picking up a new skill or hobby can also benefit your creativity. Find something you enjoy doing and that helps your mind to relax.

5. Summary

The most important thing for creativity to flourish is a good foundation .

This starts from creating a healthy lifestyle to expanding your horizon on a daily basis.

If you start implementing the above mentioned basics, you inevitably become more creative.

There is no magic switch that turns on your creativity instantly. Creativity is a lifestyle and if you embrace it like that, then it becomes much more easy to implement other strategies further down the road.

The most important part is your identity switch to a creative person .

Once you start to believe that you are a creative person, you will perform actions almost on autopilot that supports your belief: you will start to ask more “what if” questions, question the status quo and to take more risks in what you do…

This is when you ultimately become more creative.

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