What is creativity

Creativity is a trait of our minds. If we have to be honest, we cannot really create something new. We are, however, able to twist certain aspects or combine seemingly unrelated things and then create something that has not happened before, but it was always possible.

In other words, we can play with Creation but cannot really create anything. Creation has happened, and it appears to be perfect. We may believe that we have created many things, but if we are to be sincere, we are just twisting and turning what is already there.

In sum, we can play with Creation and discover something that we were not yet aware of. Tesla or Edison didn’t invent electricity; they discovered it. We didn’t create a car; we found that with certain arrangements of materials and existing technology, an automobile is possible.

When creativity happens

Our mind is like a canvas with an enormous yet limited amount of information. We can think of each bundle of information as located at different parts of the brain. When we manage to connect seemingly unrelated bundles of information, that is what we call creativity.

The information in our minds is collected from outside. The source of this knowledge can vary, from a book or school teacher to different life experiences and lessons. We can learn things from every situation in the same way we can use anything for our growth.

Because the content of our minds is an accumulation of impressions and knowledge from outside, we cannot ever think of something we have not been exposed to in one way or the other. We may think a certain thought is new, but actually, it is coming from a certain arrangement of information we have gathered from outside, either consciously or unconsciously.

So to be creative, we need to connect the bundles of information or information dots that are in our minds. To be creative and discover something that is not known yet, there are two main requirements. One is to have plenty of information dots stored in your mind. The second is to be able to connect seemingly unrelated dots.

Making connections unconsciously

For the first condition, there are as many opportunities to collect information as there are moments in life. Read a book, or a newspaper, try something new, travel, do anything. We anyway store information from the five senses every second, but this process is largely done unconsciously.

This is not necessarily unfavorable for creativity. It is only we cannot access this information consciously and hence cannot intentionally make a connection with other dots. However, during so-called “idle” moments, when we do not think of something, such information can be randomly and unconsciously retrieved, and a new connection is possible.

That is why many great ideas happen at random times and in unexpected moments. There are many examples of people who had life-changing ideas at such points in time. When these moments of discovery happened, they were not trying to come up with a great idea. It just happened.

Making connections consciously

On the other hand, we can anytime retrieve information that has been stored consciously. However, it is still not easy to make connections. One way to help in this is by writing down our thoughts. That way, making a connection would be easier as our minds have the tendency to only think of one thing at a time.

On top of writing down our thoughts, another technique that can force creativity is the “What If” questions. Just think of something; the weirder it is, the more chances you can make a connection. For example, “what if bikes could fly”, “what if we would only live 30 years”, “what if we were robots”.

There are so many WHAT IF questions one can think of. One that has really impressed me is: “what if we are already in heaven (and making a mess out of it)?”. Just try to ask and see.

Take away

  • To be creative and discover something we were unaware of, we need to connect seemingly unrelated information bundles stored in our minds.
  • Many great ideas happen at random times and unexpected moments simply because, at those moments, we retrieve information that has been stored unconsciously.
  • Writing down your thoughts and asking WHAT IF questions can enhance your creativity.

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