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How To Have Ideas

How To Have Ideas

You may have noticed that this week has been Creativity Week as far as this blog is concerned. To conclude this week’s focus I thought it would be useful to present some ideas about…how to have ideas. Creativity doesn’t necessarily have to be the creation of something brand new. It may be that you discover a way of improving something that already exists – accountants (who may not consider themselves creative) can be creative in their own way, for example by streamlining spreadsheets or processes.

Which ever way we look at creativity, we need to put ourselves in an environment to make these insights come to the surface. This is a great article from Psychology Today which is highly worth your time to read:

How To Have Ideas

Researchers believe that we can train ourselves to become unstuck and look at a problem in a fresh way. For example, Kounios et al. believe that it’s the right preparation to a problem that determines if we can solve it or not, just as Louis Pasteur suggested,

Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

One form of preparation is studying. Another is accessing “distinct brain states,” which is what the researchers used in their study.** They used rather straightforward problems, such as presenting three words that the participants had to connect by finding one additional word, turning all three into compound words (e.g., apple turning pine, crab, sauce into pineapple, crabapple, applesauce). The study shows that neural activity in certain areas of the brain helped find the correct solutions. Somehow (and the “how” is not explained in this study), we need to get ourselves in an optimal state of mind for our Eureka moments.

It is also known that just walking away from a problem can facilitate “Aha!” experiences.* When we are tense, we tend to overuse our verbal, analytical mind (left hemisphere) while creativity is suppressed (right hemisphere). As you may have noticed, a word on the tip of your tongue comes to you when you relax your effort. Relaxation is a big ingredient to mind shifts.

Continue reading whole article on Psychology Today

So there appear to be two main methods when it comes to how to have ideas. You either immerse yourself in a subject area to induce insight, or you walk away entirely from a problem or task. We often have “aha” moments or Eureka moments when we’re doing something completely different, such as taking a shower or going for a run. Or we may be day dreaming and allow our minds to wonder. What do you think? When are you most creative?



  1. Great post. I have trained myself to ponder a problem, research it, and let me subconscious solve it. I also make sure I have a writing instrument wherever I am. So much so that I even have an aquanotes waterproof notepad in my shower : ) Again, great job with this post!

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