Improve Your Creative Imagination
Having a creative mind is more than just having an active
imagination. Actively imagining things, and seeing and hearing
things in one's mind, is an important ability, but it doesn't
have to involve much creativity, does it? Normal daydreaming,
for example, is a process of imagination, and it can consist
of an elaborate fantasy world, but one full of all the things
that many people think about.
A more creative imagination, then, has to include the ability
not just to imagine things, but to imagine original things.
It means seeing things that others don't see, and coming up with
new ideas. How, then, do you cultivate this?
Start by exercising your basic imagination. This can be as
simple as thinking in pictures more, or listening to music in
your mind. Start playing little "movies" in your mind,
until you can watch them on command. It's a simple process, but
for those of us that can't easily do it naturally, it can take
a lot of practice. Fortunately, it is not an unpleasant activity.
The second step to developing a more creative imagination
is to get more creative in your thinking and imagining. Pay attention
to your creativity, because our subconscious minds give us more
of what we pay attention to. If you ignore creative aspects of
your life, you're telling your subconscious they're unimportant.
On the other hand, if you notice when you're creative, your subconscious
mind will start feeding you more creative ideas.
Having different surroundings can also encourage your creativity.
Want more creativity in your love life? Try hiking up a mountain
with your partner. Are you a writer? Try sitting on a roof to
write. Looking for creative new ideas for your business? Bring
a notebook to the park and sit by the duck pond. A change of
environment can get your thinking out of it's ruts.
You can also play games that exercise your creative imagination.
One such game uses a technique called "concept combination."
Played alone or with other players, you combine random concepts
or things in new ways, to see who has the best idea. A thermometer
and a billboard, for example, could generate an idea for a sign
that checks the weather and adjusts the message accordingly ("Come
in out of the heat for a cold beverage," or "Come in
out of the rain and warm up with our gourmet coffee.").
A creative inspiration certainly can strike at any time, but
such inspiration strikes more often when there is work instead
of waiting. So if you want to come up with creative inventions,
start mentally redesigning everything you see. Imagine a better
bicycle, a faster mail service, or a better chair. Continue this
for three weeks, and it will become a habit.
Of course, truly creative imagination goes beyond solving
specific problems or inventing things. Truly creative minds are
always coming up with the questions too, not just the solutions.
To cultivate this kind of creativity, focus on three things:
1. Change Perspectives
A child might think working just to not work (to retire) is
silly. Thinking from that child's perspective might give you
ideas for how to make money doing things you enjoy. Seeing the
world as a bear sees it might give a painter imaginative new
ideas. Seeing things from a customer's perspective is a sure
way to find creative improvements for a business. Try to see
everything from several perspectives.
2. Challenge Assumptions
Imagine if restaurants didn't have employees. Customers pay
a machine as they enter, feed themselves at a buffet, and everything
is as automated as possible, so one owner-operator could run
a large restaurant alone. Challenge all your assumptions for
practice. Do you really have to pay rent? Do swimming pools need
water? Can exercise be a bad thing?
3. Let Ideas Run Wild
Maybe a flying bed seems silly, but then it could lead to
the concept of a helium mattress. You get off it in the morning,
and it floats up and out of the way, to the ceiling. Perfect
for small apartments. Try hard not to stifle your creativity.
Just relax, and let ideas come in any form. You can always discard
To make these techniques a habitual part of your thinking,
you have to use them regularly. Since it takes several weeks
to develop a habit, remind yourself to use them each day. For
example, list a few of your favorite problem solving techniques
on a card and carry it with you. Look it over throughout the
day and apply them to anything. Soon, you'll have a more creative
mind and imagination.