Do you find yourself struggling to think beyond what you see, whether it’s coming up with innovative solutions for your entrepreneurship assignment or when you’re writing an essay for a scholarship application?
If only you could somehow come up with a brilliant and exciting idea and apply it to whatever it is that you are trying to achieve. Well, anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
Have a look at our carefully curated methods, which may just help you get those creative juices flowing!
#1. Learn new things
Thinking outside the box requires you to step outside your comfort zone — only then will you be able to gain inspiration and view things from a different perspective.
A good way to do this is by stepping into a new world and learning things you know nothing about. You don’t have to undertake an entire diploma about another field — just spend a few minutes a day reading different topics that interest you.
If you’re more of a visual person, you could watch crash courses on YouTube or discover motivational videos that encourage creativity. Who knows, you may stumble across a new passion that could bring out your creative side!
#2. Try word exercises
Associate Professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Balder Onarheim, says that as we grow up, it becomes increasingly difficult to think creatively and connect 2 very different things together. He calls this “associative limitations”.
For example, he explained that he would have never thought it would be possible to combine the functions of a phone and a computer to create a smartphone — but it has been done and now, smartphones can be found everywhere.
“I want you all to look at the picture of the toothbrush and think of 3 random words quickly,” Onarheim asked his audience during his TEDx Talk. “The more unrelated the words are, the better,” he told them.
According to Onarheim, he does this exercise every night when he brushes his teeth as it improves the brain’s ability to find and piece together different information that may seem to be irrelevant at the time.
#3. Sleep on it
Yes, sleeping may be able to help you think creatively!
Balder Onarheim also explains in his TEDx Talk that if we briefly think of our problem (without trying to solve it) just before bedtime, it is likely that we could come up with a creative solution to it while dreaming.
How is this possible? This is because during deep sleep, most of us experience dreams that are often filled with absurdities as they are not constrained to the rules of reality.
However, it’s worth noting that if you want to try this, you’ll need to wake up at the end of a 90-minute sleep cycle for a higher chance of recalling your dream — so don’t forget to set your alarm!
#4. Brainstorm and let your crazy ideas live
Have you ever sat down at your desk with a piece of paper and coloured pens in hand, waiting to jot down brilliant ideas? But when push comes to shove, you find yourself yanking your hair in frustration?
Sitting down to brainstorm is a great way to generate new ideas. However, they don’t work if you are too restricted when thinking of solutions.
What you need to do is to set your mind free.
Think of as many ideas as you can and be sure to write ALL of them down. Don’t judge your ideas — at least not until you’re done with your brainstorm. Once you’ve finished listing every possible idea, then you can scratch out the ideas that sound too wild.
#5. Use the power of humour
Did you know that laughing can help you be more creative?
According to psychiatry researcher Karuna Subramaniam, you are more likely to have an aha! moment when you are in a lighter, more positive mood. Subramaniam came to this conclusion after studying the brain and discovering that creative insight is actually linked to the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). This is the part of the brain that is responsible for problem-solving skills.
This breakthrough has enabled her to measure creativity. So she tested her theory through an experiment, where volunteers were asked to finish a creative problem-solving test. Before taking the test, half the volunteers were given a comedy to watch while the other half were asked to watch a horror movie.
The results? Those who watched the scary movies displayed less creativity when solving the test.
#6. Try out the Japanese ‘Chindogu’ method
You may be wondering what in the world this is. Let us explain.
The term ‘Chindogu’ was created by Kenji Kawakami, who is a former editor and contributor for the Japanese magazine Mail Order Life. The word refers to an invention that may seem like a solution to a problem, but it is in fact rather useless.
Take one of Kawakami’s inventions for example — umbrella shoes, created by fixing tiny umbrellas on top of a pair of shoes to keep them dry! Although the invention doesn’t really keep the shoes that dry, it fulfils the ‘Chindogu’ rules of being an invention of no use, which can never be patented or sold. But, how can Chindogu help you think outside the box?
Well, the very essence of this wacky idea requires the use of creativity in order to come up with unique inventions. And since the devices need to be useless, you won’t be pressured to come up with something great. You’ll have the freedom to think of anything under the sun and who knows, you might just come up with a brilliant invention (though it won’t be a Chindogu anymore)!
When it comes to thinking outside the box, just remember to always be open to opportunities and take reasonable risks! Try out things you have never done before and it will allow you to see life through a new point of view.