The Creative Mindset

The Creative Mindset

Kitchen and bath showrooms are in the creativity business.  On some projects, there are eureka moments when flashes of brilliance suddenly emerge, producing spectacular results.  Then there are moments when the creative mindset draws a blank.  Why is that?  Blame the brain.  Creative thoughts can pop into your head when you are doing something completely removed from showroom activities.  That’s the reason behind the shower effect where researchers at the University of Virginia found that taking a shower can produce great ideas and creative solutions.  

Creativity does not happen because of some magical force.  Showroom designers can actually create the circumstances that make inspirational thoughts predictable, claims Katina Bajaj, cofounder and chief wellbeing officer of Daydreamers.  These circumstances include paying attention, relaxing, and enjoying life more often. If that sounds crazy, let the science convince you.

Creativity is part of the human body’s DNA.  Encountering writer’s block or designer’s block is often the result of losing touch with your creative DNA, because we are too focused on multitasking, putting out fires and constantly checking to-do lists.  These induce stress which impedes creativity.

In his classic work, A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger Van Oech defines creativity as the ability to look at the same things differently.  This requires designers to take a different perspective.  However, when designers take the same linear approach that they are used to, they can get stuck in mental tunnel vision, Bajaj notes.

There is a part of the brain known as the default mode network (DMN) housed in regions that Bajaj claims enable humans to connect the dots that they may not see on the surface.  Focusing on a project and paying attention sparks the creative brain to connect the dots necessary to look at the same things differently.  Scientists believe that the DMN is the source of creativity.

Here's what goes on in the brain right before inspiration strikes.  A rush of alpha waves shuts off the visual cortex to quiet outside distractions, allowing DMN to thrive.  Eliminating everyday distractions slows down the external world allowing the brain to make disparate connections until that wave of inspiration surfaces.  Giving your brain time to breathe produces endorphins that help you to relax, explore different perspectives and wander mentally. 

Relaxing is a precursor to creativity.  Taking a nature walk can start the creative juices flowing.  Albert Einstein was known for taking long breaks when he was stuck.  He termed these breaks “thought experiments” and came up with the theory of relativity while daydreaming.  

Having the wherewithal to look at the same things differently, being open to new ideas and experiences and enjoying the beauty of nature helps the brain amass information.  Relaxing, and mind wandering regularly helps to give the brain the breather it needs for you to be more creative and speed up the frequency of “Ah Ha” moments.  Next time you are stuck, take a walk, daydream, and relax.  Giving your brain a chance to chill will help recharge your creative batteries.


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