September 2007

Creativity and meditation


Wikipedia’s defines creativity as a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts. (Which, by the way, is much better than Merriam-Webster’s attempt, defining creativity as “the quality of being creative”. In Britain that is called sarcasm.)

But where does creativity come from? I am most creative when my mind is calm and not overwhelmed with thoughts, anxiety or other excessive mind-chatter… usually when I am meditating or engaged in another mindful activity, such as jogging or taking a shower. The creative inspiration appears to flow out of this stillness.

Creativity literature

Staples of creativity literature:

  • Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius by Michael Michalko
  • Creativity in Business by Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers
  • Lateral Thinking by Edward De Bono
  • Hot Spots by Lynda Gratton

Do you have any recommendations for the list?

Do something different

The number one way to stimulate creativity is to do something different.Being a rainy morning in London, I thought, why not walk to work in the rain instead of taking the crowded bus – and see if I could notice something new. I never really paid attention to the patterns of the rain hitting puddles before… it is a bit like those random flashes of lights you see on the new years ball dropping in times square. Fascinating.

And just fascinating enough to get me in to trouble when a big red bus drove by and soaked me with a tidal wave splash. Not quite what I had in mind when I sought after a new experience.

What I learned from the incident:

  • Usability tip #1: When confronted with the possibility of large busses intersecting with large puddles in close proximity, watch the road, not the neat patterns of rain-drops in the puddles.
  • Follow-up idea #1: When being splashed by big red bus, reposition your umbrella to face downwards at a 45 degree angle to minimize the damage.
  • Shortcut #1: When about to be splashed by a big red bus, move quickly in the opposite direction from the street.
  • Side benefits #1: The rain-water-bus-splash wakes you up better than coffee.
  • Time saver #1: The rain-water-bus-splash provides a free natural all-in-one method for laundry and a shower. Note – temperature control leaves something to be desired and drying method needs to be reworked.