Rekindle your spark of genius | Sunday Observer

Rekindle your spark of genius

11 June, 2023
Reading widens your horizon
Reading widens your horizon

Most people have emotional problems and countries have economic problems. To solve both emotional and economic problems, we need creative thinking. We have seen that some people adeptly discover creative solutions to their problems while others are struggling to solve them.

One enduring question cognitive psychologists have tried to answer is what factors underlie creativity, the ability to generate novel ideas to solve problems. Consider, for example, how you might respond to the question: “How many uses can you think of for a newspaper?”

You may have your own answers. However, consider whether you have thought of the different uses suggested by a 10-year-old boy. In a school essay, he wrote: “You can read it, write on it, lay it down and paint a picture on it. You could put it in your door for decoration, put it in the garbage can, put it on a chair if the chair is messy.

If you have a puppy, you put newspaper in it or put it in your backyard for the dog to play with. When you build something and don’t want anyone to see it, put a newspaper around it. Put a newspaper on the floor if you have no mattress, use it to pick something hot, use it to stop bleeding, or to catch the drips from drying clothes …” He went on giving various other uses no adult may have even imagined.

Such gifted men and women are not rare in society. One of the factors that lead to creativity is divergent thinking which is contrasted with convergent thinking. If you area convergent thinker, you will try to solve problems using your knowledge and logic. The 10-year-old boy is a divergent thinker because he has not acquired much knowledge or studied logic.

Another aspect of creativity is the ability to come up with complex thinking patterns. Creative people always think out of the box because they have a wider range of interests. They are interested in philosophical and abstract problems unlike ordinary people. However, there is one factor that is not closely related to creativity i.e. intelligence. Students are subject to traditional intelligence tests which can tap only their convergent thinking skills but not divergent thinking skills.

Final conclusion

Psychologists believe that there are little-used powers of creativity and imagination in each of us. If you can discover them, you can turn on your own sparks of genius. You may have met people with an uncanny knack for solving problems and you may have wondered how they managed to perform such amazing feats.

Although they are not geniuses, they somehow think differently. Even social scientists have been taking a serious look at such people’s power of creative thinking. They have come to the conclusion that creativity is far more common than previously believed. Their final conclusion is that there is a spark of genius in each of us.

Even if you have a spark of genius hidden within you, you may not know how to find it. This can be done easily if you think like a child. Sometimes your smartphone or laptop starts giving trouble. When you fail to put it right, you think of calling an expert. At this time your son or grandson walks in and asks you what the trouble is. After listening to you, he will put it right within a few minutes. However, when the child becomes an adult, he will lose his skills of creativity. If you can resuscitate your childhood curiosity, you will be able to come up with creative solutions to many problems.

Childhood curiosity can be rekindled by widening your horizons. Reading is one of the effective ways to widen your horizon. Unfortunately, most people give up their reading habit after graduation or employment. After marriage, you will settle down to a humdrum pattern of life.

If you are really concerned with creativity, read everything you can lay your hands on. Read novels, short stories, poems, biographies, philosophy, psychology, history or even astronomy. Wide reading will feed you with valuable information and insights. In addition, try to read fairy tales and children’s stories which are not generally meant for adults. Every little facets of information will widen your horizon.

Ask right questions

The next step is to ask right questions. According to Dr. Frederic Flach, a New York psychologist, you should never ask yourself “Should I get a divorce?” Instead ask yourself “Does it make more sense to be on my own?” Similarly, when we are unhappy with our jobs we think of leaving them.

On the other hand, some employers want to get rid of certain employees. The owner of a small company wanted to sack one of his employees. However, one of his directors advised him to find out in what way he could improve his performance and become an asset to the company. Through discreet inquiries the employer found that the employee had marital problems. He was referred to a family counsellor who saved his job and his marriage.

When you are faced with a big problem, sleep on it. This will help you to put the problem out of your conscious mind. After incubation, a creative solution will pop up. In 1865, German chemist Friedrich Kekule fell asleep puzzling over the structure of the benzene molecule. He dreamed of thousands of atoms dancing before his eyes, some forming patterns and twisting like snakes.

Suddenly one snake grabbed its own tail. In a flash, Kekule awakened with the idea of a closed-chain structure of benzene – a brilliant scientific discovery. Even Mozart says his music wrote itself while he was travelling, strolling or dozing off. There are others who got brilliant ideas while they were shaving or bathing.

Like learning a new language or playing the violin, you have to practise creative techniques regularly. To do so, you should have a passion for living and learning. Some students attending English classes fail to learn such a fascinating language simply because they have no passion for learning.

If you have no passion, you cannot do anything successfully. You should be like Pablo Picasso who marvelled at almost everything. He says, “I look at flies, at flowers, at leaves and trees around me. I let my mind drift at ease, just like a boat in the current. Sooner or later, it is caught by something.”

Stir your imagination

When you stay focused and alert to what is happening around you, your imagination begins to stir in mysterious ways. The world itself is a wonderful and mysterious place. So, there is no difficulty in finding mysterious things that would stir your imagination. You may have seen students doodling during lectures. Similarly, some participants at meetings also enjoy doodling which is nothing but drawing absent-minded shapes.

Psychologist Dr. Ho Law says, “Doodling is a creative outlet that reflects a person’s state of mind. Doodling can unlock mental blocks and help you think creatively. Psychologists have ascribed meanings to different symbols found in doodling. If you draw boats, planes and cars, you have a longing to get away from it all. If you draw upward arrows, you are ambitious.

Horizontal arrows show perceptiveness. Those who draw noughts and crosses play games with themselves.

I have seen students draw stars. They tend to be idealists. If you draw squares and triangles, you have an organised brain. Those who draw pretty faces are very sociable people. Those who are sentimental draw hearts. However, if you are not in the habit of drawing doodles, do not worry. Non-doodlers tend to be precise, direct and to the point, but they also have their creative faculties intact.

Enjoy thinking creatively and solving your problems.

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