Creativity is the driver of human progress. Without creative individuals thinking of innovative technologies and solutions, we would have been stuck in a cave rather than enjoying the comforts of an air-conditioned room. Think about it for a minute.
The first person who invented the wheel changed the whole world. And he or she invented it because they looked at a piece of log and decided that it should be cut into round shapes for better mobility when attached to a platform. If they continued to look at the wood just as wood alone, then maybe the thought of using it to create a wheel might never have entered their mind.
Even though we have progressed very far, creative thinking is still an important ingredient of success, whether it was the thought process that led to the creation of the atom bomb which gifted America victory in WWII or the Windows operating system created by Bill Gates that revolutionized computing prowess in the world, creativity is the key.
And if you are someone who is struggling to think creatively and come up with new, radical ideas to improve your life or the situation you’re surrounded with, then the following six techniques can help you open up your mind.
1. Accumulate more knowledge
Being creative requires that you have good enough knowledge about a wide range of topics. Someone who is only focused on computer engineering has a far lower chance of coming up with new, creative ideas when compared to someone who knows computer engineering, web server management, and online marketing.
While the first person will remain limited to being a chemical engineer, the latter might think of combining some computer engineering concepts with online server management to create an entirely new product or service, which they can market on a social media platform. These niches might sound random, but you never know what comes from the most bizarre of combinations.
So, do yourself a favor and start learning and understanding new things rather than only being limited to your working knowledge. As you explore hitherto unknown areas, you will start connecting the various information, helping you come up with new ideas or radical solutions to existing problems. Did I mention it is also fun to learn about new topics? When you learn new topics for just the sake of it, it takes the pressure of application away, making it more fun.
2. Answer essential questions of a topic
An easy way to make yourself think creatively is first to analyze a topic based on a few essential questions. These essential questions include – how, what, why, when, where, and who. So, if you are tasked with understanding a market for a new product to be launched by your company, look at the market and ask yourself the following type of questions:
- Why should there be a demand for your product in the market?
- Who will want to buy your product? Who will not buy your product?
- How will your product be sold to the people? How will it be marketed?
- Where will your product be sold, in all shops or at franchise stores alone?
- When will the product be launched?
- What will be the price of your product? What will be the benefits of using your product?
The checklist will allow you to start thinking about a topic. The more you think about it, the more you will question it until you understand the situation completely. And in the process, you might come up with creative ways to launch and market your product.
3. Get back to nature
Try taking a break and spending some time in nature. It can be a hike for just a few hours. Or even a long walk. But as long as it involves you walking in the forest and breathing in the fresh air, the trip should do you good.
Make it a regular activity, and your creative thinking abilities are very likely to get a boost. In fact, some neuroscience studies suggest that spending time in natural surroundings can boost problem solving and creativity of a person by up to 50%. That is definitely a good improvement considering that the only thing you have to do is to spend some time among the trees.
And many scientists have a good explanation for it. Apparently, being stuck in the concrete jungle of the cities, surrounded by numerous Wi-Fi devices and electronic equipment, dampens a section of the brain that deals with high-level creative thinking.
Hence, taking some time off from the city, and heading over to the forest is seen as a good way to get the front part of the brain to utilize itself to the fullest potential. So, the next time you feel like you are unable to think anything new – just hit the road.
4. Join a creative community
One of the best ways to start thinking creatively is to join a creative community. You should preferably look for a group which has no qualms with being supportive of any idea. For example, someone might come up with an idea to use ants as an investigative tool by hooking it up with a tiny camera and sending it into sensitive locations to gather information.
Someone else might voice an idea which requires people to beg on the streets for a day to understand the mind of a beggar. Whatever ideas they may be, as long as the community is tolerant of hearing out wildly varying opinions and offering beneficial feedback and suggestions, it is definitely a group you should join.
Having like-minded creative people around you has many benefits. For one, you won’t restrict your thinking. Instead, you will learn to embrace and express it fully. Second, the people who hear out your ideas and concepts will offer their viewpoints too. And this can lead to brainstorming sessions that can lead you forward into newer concepts.
5. Keep an ‘idea-book’ handy
Always keep an ‘idea-book’ handy. An ‘idea-book’ is essentially a small, easy to carry notepad that you can write down your ideas. No matter where you are, whether at home, office, traveling on the train, or anywhere else, jot down ideas as soon as they pop up in your mind. It need not be anything revolutionary.
The ideas can be as ludicrous and out of the world as they possibly can, but you must make it a point to record it in your book. The purpose of this exercise is not to find a solution to any problem you are currently having but to simply unlock your limitless thinking potential.
For example, when traveling by bus, you might notice that people in the bus are often hooked onto their smartphones, having minimal interest in interacting with others. And suddenly you might come up with an idea for an app that makes it easier and safer for people to connect with strangers on a bus.
Note the idea in your pad. It does not matter whether you will follow it up and actually create an app. By simply writing down ideas, you are reassuring the mind that thinking creatively or differently is okay.
After a few weeks or months, when you take out your book and read all the things you have written, you will definitely be amazed at the ideas and thoughts that came up in your mind in your observations of the world. And by that time, coming up with new ideas and concepts will be natural to you.
6. Look at things differently
The simplest way to become more creative is to train yourself to look at things differently. A mind that does not question anything, and simply accepts whatever is fed into it is a mind of a person who has no potential to be creative. Having a different viewpoint about a thing can truly help you understand it more, while also helping you expand your creative thinking process.
For example, imagine that you are a peace officer tasked with ending the conflict between two warring clans in an African jungle. The normal course of action will be to first determine what the source of the conflict is, then to contact each group and try to resolve the differences between them by bringing them to a middle ground.
Now, if the conflict has been brewing for decades, then it will be a long time before both clans even agree to sit together.
So, abandon such linear, straightforward thoughts, and start looking at the conflict from a different perspective. The people in your peacekeeping mission might be asking themselves, “why are these two clans fighting.” Instead of focusing on that, you should ask yourself, “why haven’t these two clans killed off each other even though they have been fighting for decades?”
By asking this, you focus on finding out what is common between the clans rather than the differences between them, like other people have been doing till now. And eventually, you might find some common ground that brings both the clans together.
For example, you might discover that both clans share a common myth of their ancestors having come from afar off, dreamy place. You can then use the myth to bring the clans together by reminding them that they are brothers and sisters of the same ancestor.
So, no matter what you are tasked with, train yourself to look at the subject matter from different perspectives, and you will come up with newer ways to deal with them in whatever way you wish. And in the process, you will become more creative in your thinking.
Tapping into your creativity boils down to letting your brain think without any restrictions and giving yourself time to actually stop and think. Jotting down everything is the best way to get everything out there and free your mind up for new ideas. You can develop something great from your most outrageous thought.
Why it is Hard to Stay Motivated
Change is the only constant.
How many times have we heard this in our lives?
Do you realize this is not merely a saying but an experience every individual goes through multiple times during his entire life?
None of us know what the next second has in store for us. Right now you may be elated and you might find yourself in complete folds the next hour.
Well, these are the times when you need to chomp in a well-prepared meal.
No no, not your regular food, this meal has special ingredients which when cooked together, give you the dish called ‘motivation’.
It is extremely important to sense when our morale starts losing for if not paid attention to, it can turn into a habit and you might find yourself quite comfortable.
To be able to pull yourself out of lethargy, an understanding of what motivation actually is should be taken into consideration.
When defined, motivation is the power that activates the engine of success and moves you to act. It is not some external drive but comes from within and is very much related to your ambitions and desires in life.
Keep reminding yourself that this is a recurring process, you’ll have to be your own source of encouragement every day, sometimes even more than once a day.
Easier said than done right?
I am aware.
However, a strong and logical mind is sure to overrule your emotions. After all, you are not your mind but much beyond that.
To be content and motive-driven, you need to have clarity. Like I mentioned above, a strong mind has control over your emotions and will help you keep track of your visions and goals. It is usually easy to get distracted by external factors but if you are sure enough of what you want ahead, nothing can come in your way.
Let’s see some things that you could do when you feel like there’s not much productivity flowing out :
- The foremost thing is to stop and take deep breaths. A calm and relaxed mind is capable of viewing different point of views of the same situation. A moment of panic is sure to push you away and impact your ability to work.
- After you find yourself quiet, drink two sips of water to give fuel to the brain.
- Now, look closely at what you have in hand. An assignment to finish before the deadline? An examination to prepare for, due the day after? A project you just stepped into? Well, the list obviously is endless.
- Having the work outline made, sit and divide it into smaller tasks, hence now you have shorter goals which are comparatively easier to achieve.
- When a 4-5 hour project is broken down into sets of half an hour each, after the completion of every 0.5 hours there will be a sense of contentment and pride. The satisfaction thus attained will be far greater than anything else.
Now, this was just a little glimpse of what can be done or something that I usually adhere to. However, is this the only standard procedure?
Every individual is different and has his own psychological being. For some, a pep-talk would do wonders while for others just a 10-15 minute alone time is enough to get back to normal.
Therefore, don’t try to follow any steps mechanically. See various things, read about various things, and in the end, come up with different permutations and combinations that suit the best for you.
Enough of how to get motivated and why to get motivated. Let’s step into the deeper issue – ‘Not being able to work and to not be productive does not mean I am any less serious about my career. I am not making excuses just so that I can get off of responsibilities easily. Why does no one believe when I say this?’
The thoughts that we ponder over every time we are hit by a wave of disinterest. The problem is not anybody not believing you, the setback is of how society isn’t accepting of low workload times.
The pressure of watching every other person excel and hear stories of how people work 36 hours a day, has made this the notion of how one should approach his professional background.
The fear of not being able to report in time and the stress of being a few steps behind others always is daunting our subconsciousness. It’s high time we as individuals accept that this is what it is and it’s completely okay to be not okay somedays.
Embracing your own shortcomings will give you the courage to stand by yourself and fall back into action with double the motivation and power.
You know that these aren’t mere excuses, you know your mindset at that point in time and you know that you will give anything and everything to not be in this position and this is all that matters.
A sense of belief and confidence will automatically provide a boost and you’ll see yourself springing into ideas and creative techniques to give shape to the same project.
Hence, two things are the highlight of your gloomy days – One, that targets smaller goals to reach the bigger goal in less time and with less stress. Two, to accept and face the fact that you will have no willpower one day and it’s okay but at the same time knowing that you have to get back on your feet the next day.
How Reading can impact your Day to Day Life?
Reading is a healthy habit, which, if practiced daily, can change your entire life around. Do you want to know why? Through Reading, one can not only gain knowledge but also stay acquainted with the outside as well as the inside world. The best thing about reading daily is to have an isolated place for yourself in your mind, where you can run off to. Most people don’t have the patience or intention to read, and that too, daily. Though this is a habit that takes time to settle in but trust me, once it does, you would never regret it. So, here is a list of reasons why you should read daily?
Why should you read daily?
- To gain knowledge
Once you start reading daily, and by Reading, it can be anything – you can read few pages of a novel, or a magazine, or newspaper, or even poetry – you would notice within weeks how much your knowledge regarding the outer world has improved. Through Reading, one can have clear information regarding the current affairs, and hence, stay updated.
- To improve your vocabulary
Through Reading, you can definitely learn new words and hence, improve your vocabulary. Most people make it a habit to learn a new word from the dictionary every day, but if you read daily, you are bound to get new words and make a list of them on a notebook with their meanings, which is definitely going to be helpful for you.
- To have a make-believe world
The most beautiful consequence of Reading is having one’s own imaginary world, where one can live a life full of magic. This is the extraordinary superpower one acquires while reading. In this busy daily life of ours, we all look for a secluded place where we can feel the essence of peace. Reading can fly you off to the imaginary land of sunflowers, daisies, and cats who can indeed talk.
- To become more attentive
Most people lack patience nowadays. Being impatient and restless has become a severe problem in today’s world. Here, Reading can help you calm your mind and improve your observation skills. It works like meditation. In no time, you would find your mind focusing on details and becoming more attentive to events, which used to go unnoticed.
- To reduce stress
Reading is similar to meditation, and hence, it definitely helps to reduce your stress. Books always have a calming effect on one’s mind. It takes you away from daily problems and stressful situations and helps your mind to gain stability. Not only it helps in reducing stress, but it also helps to decrease the anxiety levels of a person.
Everyone should make reading a daily habit. One should switch off the mobile phones, turn off the television and take some time out to read. It works wonders on one’s day-to-day life and changes one person’s entire personality. Though it can be hard at first, with time, you would cherish the moments alone, reading in a corner while your mind is flying off to Narnia.
Is this Shoe the Right Fit: Gender Stereotyping in Fairytale through Cinderella
Growing up the first source of literature, children are exposed to are fairytales. These stories are read to them by parents as bedtime stories or watched by them on television. These stories are great influencers on a child’s’ mind, and therefore start conforming to its stereotyping, especially gender. Fairytales truly do educate and instill in children’s morality, but children get accustomed to the fairytales and thus begin to identify with the character in the story. The stereotypes in fairytales concern both genders and lay their roles out for them, but at large, the stereotypes are targeted at women.
One of the biggest and widely spread fairytales is “Cinderella” and as a child one watches her beautiful transformation, her damsel in distress moment, her prince charming who saves her and with everything going on in her life still being the ‘kindest soul’. There are about a thousand various versions of Cinderella, and also different movie adaptation, one of the famous one is by Disney. This fairytale has portrayed so many genders stereotyping that as a child one doesn’t realise but going back to the text, the stereotyping seems a little too evident.
These stories nearly always start with the phrase “once upon a time”. Cinderella was no exception, her story was once upon a time. It revolved around the tragedies in her life with her mother passing away to, father remarrying, treatment by her step-family, and finally meeting the prince who rescues her. These stereotyping are witnessed in stories depicting the higher class and hence talks about the consumption market of the same. The story is said to inspire girls to behave ladylike even if you are not born into nobility. Someday such beauty and grace, not just physical, will get them their prince. Which, will further give them approval from society on their shift from a girl to a lady. Taking the abuse pushed on her by her family instilling the idea of female leads being submissive in nature and continuously requiring help and support from various characters in the story. To have something good, one needs to face hardships in life; this concept is portrayed in the idea by depicting Cinderella as a servant, who is abused and works hard to please people. The prince saves Cinderella, and intern becomes the writer of her destiny. Cinderella further depicted as a perfect template on how to be a proper lady 101. As she doesn’t argue nor talkback makes her the ideal woman.
As far as beauty is concerned, Cinderella is described as a beautiful woman with her feminine features and wearing a stunning gown to the ball makes her even more attractive. This has been propaganda sold to girls at a very young age that she doesn’t need to sound intelligent as the prince in Cinderella did not care about her intelligence instead only cared for her beauty. This ideology is even seen today where people tell girls they need to ‘dress to impress’, that the only way to grab a man’s attention is by looking ‘beautiful’ adhering to society’s definition of beautiful. The society’s interpretation is influenced by Cinderella and various other fairytales. Who has sold the idea of a small waist, fair and clear-skinned, having her hair always almost perfect – has made girls feel insecure about their body and physical appearance. Due to the obsession of having a smaller waist leads to a lot of girls developing bad eating habits and trying to obtain fair and glowing skin.
The prince in the story is a strong character who is portrayed as a rescuer and knight in shining armour who comes in and rescues Cinderella from her miserable life and showcases that the whole story revolves to lead to this moment. Cinderella also had to prove her identity to the prince who did not recognise her.
The love story between the two main characters – Cinderella and Prince Charming seems utterly unreal and cringe-worthy. Love termed here is physical attraction and no interaction to know each other’s personality. Adding to the standard of beauty is applied to boy’s as well. They have to look a sure way to meet the standard of being ‘handsome’. Further, the knight in shining armour syndrome makes boys believe that they are entitled to rescue girls and marry girls based on their look. They think that they need to look for a girl who will take care of the house and not talk back, which leads to a biased society where females and males are conformed to stereotypes. This further makes children believe that marriage is the end goal.
Cinderella is just one classic fairytale that is discussed and portrays gender stereotypes, but other stories like Sleeping Beauty, snow-white, Rapunzel to formulate stereotypes. As Cinderella is famous and is one of the widely read novels, it made sense to use that as a platform to prove that fairytales are a source of gender stereotypes. There has been a surge in positive and unbiased fairytales and children’s movies such as Shrek, Mulan, Frozen, Brave to name a few but none the less the other stories still exist and propagated to children widely.
The end of the story is, do we really want children to have unrealistic standards on gender and beauty, and do we want them to believe that vulnerable and weak women are the only ones who grab men’s attention. If we need to formulate change, we need to start with fairytales. Being a fairytale fan myself I don’t mean to say scrap out fairytales all together, fairytales are an essential source of literature that shouldn’t be taken away from children. What we might think about doing is change the stories, portray roles of men and women as strong characters, who value equality and that stereotyping has to take leave from Fairytales.
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