What is creativity and how can I get more?
Well if the answer were simple, we’d never have to deal with things like writer’s block, or design block, or lack of inspiration, ever! In an effort to discover more about creativity, a few bright researchers from Northwestern and Drexel University (Philadelphia!) set out to run a massive number of test and medical/social experiments to learn more about this mysterious thing we call creativity.
Compound remote association problems
Among other things, these researchers handed their subjects a series of tests composed of word problems. These word problems were called “Compound Remote Association Problems”. The word problem is a trio of words which all have one word in common (i.e. Boil, Cycling, Knight. Answer: “Lance”) and asked the subjects to solve the problems. The key here is that the subjects were being asked to form, or create, a connection in their mind that had not previously been there.
Lights, camera, activity!
As the subjects solved the word problems, the researchers noticed that a small part of their brain was firing with a ton of activity just prior to the problem being solved. This part of the brain is called the…
Anterior superior temporal gyrus
Try googling that term and you’ll discover all kinds of cool facts and information about creativity. It’s a small part of your brain that sits above your ear and helps you to understand ideas and concepts in comedy, metaphor, and idiom. It’s vital! Else we’d really try to “Hold our horses.”
Sadly, the researchers did not find a way to fire this “creative-making” chunk of your brain on-demand, but they did learn a very important aspect of encouraging it to work and supply you with plenty of creative ideas.
Relax! Let creative ideas flow to you.
They found that the subjects who were most relaxed had the highest rate of these moments of creative insight and therein solved the compound remote association problems at a higher rate. Their brains could seemingly conjure up more creative power due to the fact that they were relaxed. As a side note here, I came across a very interesting infographic comparing your brain on coffee vs. your brain on beer. It’s interesting stuff, check it out here.
Ideas are residue
Albert Einstein once said that “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” Think about some of the most esteemed artists and wildly creative, off-the-wall people who you know, even children-who are widely known for having amazing ideas virtually all the time-all have one thing in common–they just don’t care and therefore they live a life devoid of much of the stress and pressure that most of us subject ourselves to. The key to becoming more creative in general seems to be to relax. Of course after relaxing, you need to drink up the coffee to re-energize and get some real work done! Be sure to check out the full video above and share your thoughts in the comments section below.