The Art of Creative Thinking
There is not a problem in this world that has no solution. Similarly there is not a question in the world that has no answer. However, the ability to think in a different way is all that makes a difference. Every obstacle, every challenge, every hardship, every hindrance, every failure, and every impediment, in fact, is an opportunity in disguise to improve our imagination and thus our problem-solving skills and ultimately our circumstances.
And as the Captain Jack Sparrow (a fictional character posing as a great philosopher and humorist in the in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series) puts it, “the problem (itself) is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” And if your attitude is negative, the problem, instead of being solved, will get worse.
Remember that we all have to face challenges and pressures in life and usually we allow them to get on top of us and feel like we have no way out. Thus instead of remaining cool and thinking out of the box, we are often driven by anxiety, distress, frustration and panic. That is why over worrying and doomsday scenarios are a daily routines for most of us who are usually conditioned to think and behave in a habitual and unproductive or unimaginative way.
Life may be difficult but it is difficult for everyone and not just for us. The life may be hard but so are you. Then there is also always a way out if we have the ability to use our mind creatively or in other words utilize our power of imagination. Here is another quote from Captain Jack:
However, the easiest solution, that most of us try to find, is usually avoiding the problems or blaming someone else or some outside force(s) for our predicament and thus giving them power over us. In other words if we no longer want to remain captain of the ship of (our own) life, then we can’t be sure if we will be able to sail the rough seas to ultimately reach the shore. And how the same people who created problems for us (as our mind tells us and we believe) will solve these very problems? Moreover, according to psychologists, giving away your control to others also drains you of the mental strength that you need to be your best.
What we need to do is to remain cool and peaceful (worry does not solve the problem but, on the contrary, blows things out of proportion) and take a step back to re-frame what is actually in front of us in the present moment. This ability to remain cool and focus your time, energy, and efforts on determining what can be done in the present moment to solve or lessen the impact of the problem and then getting on with your life, is a very powerful and effective tool. When you adopt this strategy, you find that problem is not the real problem and it is usually our reaction that becomes the problem.
The problem itself is just a stepping stone, but the way you handle it creates real magic. It means you have to concentrate all your energies on the solution rather that complaining about the problem. Moaning, groaning, and wailing is typical and easier, but it can never shoo the problem away.
Moreover, as Albert Einstein has famously said, “ We can not solve our problems with the same thinking or mindset that we used when we created them. In other words the same thinking or mindset that created the problems can never be useful in solving them. Thus in order to think and behave creatively and imaginatively, we must get rid of our habitual thinking and behaviour and old beliefs that serve as the proverbial “Elephant Rope” that keeps the elephants from fleeing the camps or enclosures, established by their trainers in the cities, all their lives. According to a short version of a story, “ when the elephants are very young and much smaller, a thin rope is used by the trainers to tie them and that is enough to hold them at that time. As they grow up, still the same rope is used as they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The only reason that the elephants don’t break free and escape from the camp is that over time they adopt the belief that it just isn’t possible. “Elephant’s Rope” is actually a stereotype (which means a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or perception of a particular type of situation, person, or thing) and if you don’t go beyond stereotypes, you keep moving in circles and face the same old problems again and again without any meaningful solution leading to more frustration and anxiety.
Hence, in order to develop a creative attitude, what you must realize is that you are so much more capable of doing things than you ever thought or felt you could do. However, you have to make an effort to push your thinking beyond its limits every now and again. You have to see the problem from a new angle or perspective. This allows you to find a new solution, or even to discover that this is not even a problem at all and thus needs no solution.
Remember that most of our problems are usually the product of our own mind or overthinking. Moreover, overthinking is believed to be tipping the balance into stuckness, powerlessness, and a mind that is closed to positive ideas or opportunities.
Below are some very interesting as well as cool examples of creative thinking for further insights:
Mr Singh outwits smart London bankers.
Mr Singh walks into a London Bank and asks for the loan officer.
He says he is going to visit Europe for business purpose for two weeks and needs to borrow £5000. The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so Mr. Singh hands over the keys of a new Rolls Royce, which costs quarter of a million pound.
“The car is parked on the street in front of the banks,” says Mr. Singh, “and I have all the necessary papers.”
The bank officer agrees to accept the car as collateral for loan. After Mr. Singh leaves, the loan officer, the bank’s president, and all other staff members enjoy a good laugh at the man for using a £250,000 Rolls Royce as collateral against a £5,000 loan.
One of the employees drives the Rolls into the bank’s underground garage and parks it there. Two weeks later, Mr Singh returns, repays the £5000 and the interest, which comes to £15.41.
The loan officer says, “Sir, I must tell you, we’ re all a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked out and discovered that you are a millionaire. Why would you bother to borrow £5,000?”
The man replies,”Where else in London can I park my car for two weeks for only £15.41?”
Although it just seems a joke, but the hidden message is that people like Mr. Singh take things easy and use their creative skills to solve the complex problems in a very amicable way.
Here is another story:
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. He then hid himself and watched to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.
Many people loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
A peasant then came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to push the stone out of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.
After the peasant went back to pick up his vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.
The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King explaining that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
Moral of the story:
Every obstacle we come across in life gives us an opportunity to improve our circumstances, and whilst the lazy complain, the others are creating opportunities through their kind hearts, generosity, and willingness to get things done.
Below are given some tips to train you mind to think differently:
1. Reframe your unhelpful thoughts.
Thinking things like “This will never work,” or “I’m such an idiot. I just ruined everything” isn’t helpful. Negative predictions tend to turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. And exaggeratedly negative thoughts prevent you from taking positive action.
But the good news is, you can reply to unhelpful thoughts with more realistic statements. When you think “No one is ever going to hire me,” remind yourself, “If I keep working hard to look for jobs, I’ll increase my chances of getting hired.”
Or, when you are thinking “This is going to be a disaster,” look for evidence that your efforts may be a success. Then, create a more balanced statement such as “There’s a chance this won’t work out, but there’s also a chance I might succeed. All I can do is my best.”
2. Prove yourself wrong.
Your brain lies to you sometimes or, in some cases,most of the time. So when it tells you that you can’t possibly get a promotion or that you’ll never be able to lose 10 pounds, look at it as a challenge.
Force yourself to take one more step after you think you’re too exhausted to keep going. Or challenge yourself to keep devising new solutions and continue doing your best.
Each time you successfully prove your negative predictions wrong, you’ll train your brain to see yourself in a different light. Over time, your brain will start to view your limitations, as well as your capabilities, in a more accurate light.
3. Create a personal mantra.
Take stock of your negative thought patterns. Do you call yourself names? Or do you talk yourself out of doing things where you might fail?
Then, develop a personal mantra that you can use to talk back to the negative messages. Repeating things like “Make it happen” or “Do your best” tunes out the negativity. And over time, you’ll grow to believe those statements more than the unhealthy things you’ve been telling yourself.
Keep Building Mental Muscle
Just like any new skill, training your brain to think differently takes time. But the more you practice thinking realistically, the more mental muscle you’ll build. In addition, your brain could undergo physical changes that will permanently help you think differently.
This is the message in the following quote of Albert Einstein that is the essence of this whole idea of creative thinking:
In addition, you must have faith that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
I am also appending below some of the very powerful and insightful quotes to further boost your imagination and creativity to help you cope with any crisis in your life:
1. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein
2. “Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.” — Robert H. Shuller
3. “All problems become smaller when you confront them instead of dodging them.” — William F. Halsey
4. “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin
5. “Sometimes problems don’t require a solution to solve them; Instead they require maturity to outgrow them.” — Steve Maraboli
6. “Every problem is a gift. Without them we wouldn’t grow” — Tony Robbins
7. “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” — Soren Kierkegaard
8. “If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?” — Shantideva
9. “It isn’t that they cannot find the solution. It is that they cannot see the problem.” — G.K Chesterton
10. “Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity” — Gerhard Gschwandtner
11. “We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.” — Russell L. Ackoff
12. “A positive attitude may not solve your problems — but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” — Anonymous
13. “Running away from a problem only increases the distance from the solution.” — Anonymous
14. “Giving up is the most painful way of solving a problem.” — Anonymous
15. “There is no problem outside of you that is superior to the power within you.” — Bob Proctor
Have a great life