We’re all skilled at creative thinking. It is, after all, the predominant way we think as children. The reason we lose the skill as we grow up is because of the blocks we put in the way.

Each of us has the power to be creative. It’s part of our natural make-up as human beings. The trouble is that, too often, we block our natural creativity and so make errors in thinking and give ourselves more problems than we should. Here are 5 ways to open up your natural creativity and keep the channels unblocked.

1. Don’t Make Assumptions.  Assumptions are examples of lazy thinking. We simply don’t wait to get all the information we need to come to the right conclusions. There is the story of the customer at the bank who after cashing a check and turning to leave, returns and says: “Excuse me, I think you made a mistake.” The cashier responds, “I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do. You should have counted it. Once you walk away we are no longer responsible.” Whereupon the customer replies: “Well, okay. Thanks for the extra $20.” Tip: When you feel yourself wanting to draw conclusions, just wait until you have all the information. 

2. Get Rid Of Lazy Thinking Habits. Habit can be a major stumbling block to clear thinking and another example of laziness. Try this experiment. Write down the Scottish surnames Macdonald, Macpherson, and Macdougall and ask someone to pronounce them. Now follow these with the word Machinery and see what happens. Most people are likely to mis-pronounce it. This is because we tend to think in habitual ways and don’t like what doesn’t fit. Tip: Don’t think that, just because things happened in a certain way once before, that they will happen like that again.

3. Don’t Think Like An Old Person, Think Like A Child. Research shows that the number of synapses, or connections, in the brain is greater in a child of two than in an average adult. The reason for this is that, while a child of two has no limiting world view, as adults we do. It’s like a sculptor who starts off with a large block of clay, more than he needs, and then gradually removes the clay as he molds his sculpture. If we use our brain like a child, accepting everything without judgment, we can actually halt and reverse the brain aging process. Tip: Don’t worry about the myth of age. With the right stimulus and a passion for learning, you can actually improve your brain’s powers.

4. Think For Yourself.  People who work in creativity-constrained organizations are likely to think the way they are supposed to think, or as others think, or as has always been the way to think. It’s like the blinkered thinking that Hans Christian Anderson describes in his story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Everyone in the land refuses to see that the emperor is naked and has been duped into believing he is wearing a splendid costume for his coronation. Only a young boy who has been ill and not party to the cultural brainwashing can see the truth and cries out: “Look, everyone, the Emperor is wearing no clothes!” Tip: Don’t let others tell you how to think. When others ask your opinion, tell it to them straight.

Once you make these 4 techniques part of your habitual thinking patterns, you will amaze yourself with how easy it is to come up with fresh, innovative and creative solutions to all of life’s problems.

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