Tapping into Creativity during times of Crisis

With every potential crash imaginable happening around us - housing, dollar, recession fears, inflation, spiking oil prices, Pakistan, Iran (no links required, just check the front pages of the online dailies) - it's time for self-examination to figure out the opportunities that always appear with crisis.

I've always felt there are two ways to tap the subconscious for those epiphanies that lead to new thinking. The first method is essentially passive - meditation and other mind blanking processes to open up subconscious thought are effective daily practices. The second method is active and so mentally aggressive that it seems the antithesis of the mind blanking techniques - it's based on exhaustively writing down every thought about a topic until you're grabbing at straws to come up with ideas. The power of subconscious thought then wells up once the mind has started to disconnect from the logical and traditional ways one understands a topic.

Start with "How to discover your life purposes in about 20 minutes" - Steve Pavlina authors a fine personal development blog that promotes active techniques to discover creativity. Then, Litemind delves into the details on how writing a list of 100 ideas will tap into ideas you may have never considered, and why it works.
The technique is very simple in principle: state your issue or question in the top of a blank sheet of paper and come up with a list of one hundred answers or solutions about it. “100 Ways to Generate Income”, “100 Ways to be More Creative” or “100 Ways to Improve my Relationships” are some examples.

The Dynamics of Making Lists of 100

To understand why creating a List of 100 works, consider what happens during the process of making one. There are three distinct phases you will usually go through when making your list:

1. First 30 entries or so: where you escape circular thinking

The first items are the easiest to come up with. In this first phase, your conscious mind is still in charge and you’ll most probably just dump ideas you’re already familiar with.

2. Next 40 entries: where patterns emerge

In this phase you’ll start noticing recurring themes and patterns of thought. Phase two is usually the hardest one, as you may find it difficult to let go of the ideas you had in the first phase in order to come up with new, distinct ones.

Bear in mind that it’s exactly this struggle that enables you to get to the third and most fruitful phase, hence the importance of not giving up at this point.

3. Last 30 entries: where the gems are

At this point you will already have exhausted most “logical” answers, allowing your subconscious mind to express itself more freely. Don’t be surprised if you get at least one or two really nonsensical or seemingly illogical entries. You may feel tempted to not write them down (“How on earth did I think that?”). Write them down anyway: these wacky entries may sound far from profound, but it’s exactly those items you’re after.

Also, after coming up with so many entries, it’s not rare to experience a shift in perspective: items that you first felt as being awkward will seem to better fit now than when you started the list. Moreover, your whole attitude towards the problem can change as you develop your entries: you may even come to the conclusion that you should be dealing with a different list topic altogether.

Finally, Litemind provides a list of 100 topics to write about.


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  • 11/12/2007 1:17 PM Lenore Wilkas wrote:
    Hi Pat,
    This reminds me a little bit of brain mapping and the process one goes through using that technique. Great article.
    Reply to this

  • 11/12/2007 5:45 PM Travis wrote:
    I actually tried some of Steve Pavlina's exercises and find it to me a disciplined version of stream of consciousness writing. Effective in unclogging mental blocks. Great article. Not something I usually expect...
    Reply to this

  • 11/12/2007 6:38 PM Lani Anglin-Rosales wrote:
    Crazy that you wrote this- I read the Lifehacker 100 list and was inspired! I don't typically do the mindmapping- it seems to be a waste of time, but this seems useful!

    What list of 100 did/will you do? I'm still not sure even after reading the list of 100 things to list... I usually keep it business focused, so I'm looking for inspiration to inspire my inspirational list to 100. Sound neurotic?
    Reply to this
    1. 11/12/2007 11:28 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      Lani, all this hard core mental processing is more suitable to me for business and worldly goals that inner peace, so I am doing the 100 ways to generate income list tomorrow... I also spend time in some sort of meditative state during the day, usually napping...

      Reply to this

  • 11/12/2007 10:16 PM reshmi wrote:
    I tried someSteve pavlina's works and find it very useful.Great article.
    Reply to this

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