Archives for September 2017

Creative Thinking Starts By Looking At The Problem From A Different Angle

So far we’ve chatted a lot about the need to think creatively and have even gotten in the habit of using daily affirmations to help us do just that. While I’ve shared a good bit of information about what creative thinking is I haven’t really given you a lot of hands on advice about how to actually start to think that way. That’s about to change. In today’s blog post, we take a look at how we can start to think creatively by looking at a problem from a different angle.

Start With The Obvious And Turn It Around

Look at a problem. Try to figure out how to solve it. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? That’s the obvious answer, the obvious solution. The quickest way to get creative is to take that and completely turn it around.

Let’s say that your problem is paying off your student debt. The obvious solution would be to go after a bigger paying job, a promotion, or a raise, so you have more money at the end of the month to apply to the debt. Turn it around and make a large payment towards that debt at the beginning of the month. This forces you to prioritize, spend less throughout the month, and make due. You’ll pay off your debt in record time without having to wait around for a bigger, better paycheck.

Question Every Assumption You Have

We are all raised to do things a certain way. We make assumptions, and they are what hold us back from coming up with creative solutions. To make sure you can see the most creative and effective solutions, you have to get in the habit of questioning every single assumption you have.

Let’s use something simple as an example. I’m sure you’ve been told plenty of times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s an assumption that’s been picked up by plenty of doctors to the point where we all believe that it’s true. What if it isn’t? What if you’ve been forcing yourself to spend 20 minutes every morning making and eating breakfast, and it simply wasn’t as important as you think? What if getting those extra 20 minutes back makes you get into the office earlier and helps you impress your boss and get that promotion? What if you’re just fine working on an empty stomach until 11am? What if fasting a little longer in the morning was actually good for your health?

Don’t take stuff at face value. Don’t do things because that’s how we’ve always done them. Question them and see if there’s a better solution waiting on the other side.

Brainstorm And Don’t Be Afraid To Go Crazy

Brainstorming is a great way to get to those creative solutions. You can do this by yourself, but it works even better in a team. Sit down and just start to throw out possible solutions or ideas. Don’t censor yourself; don’t edit… just start to let it all out.

In the beginning, you’ll get all the obvious answers that you’ve already thought of and dismissed. That’s OK. This is a process, and the conventional ideas have to come out before you are able to get to the truly innovative and crazy stuff. Keep pushing and keep digging for more and more, no matter how outrageous or ridiculous it seems. This is when you and your team start to think creatively. Keep going and see where it leads you. Most of the ideas won’t work, but if you’re lucky you will find the one that’s just crazy enough to work.

Essential Oil: Brain Power™

Brain Power™ is a blend of essential oils high in sesquiterpenes—like Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Blue Cypress, and Frankincense—to promote a sense of clarity and focus when used aromatically. Diffuse up to 1 hour three times daily.

Affirmations Can Help You Stay On Track

Creating new habits is hard. Changing your thought patterns is even harder. It takes dedication and constant reminders to make it happen. Without those, it’s too easy to fall back into our old ways. That’s where affirmations come in. They can help you stay on track and serve as a reminder of what you want to change and practice.

If you’re new to affirmations, I encourage you to give them a try. They may seem a little silly at first but are a great way to get your mind ready to embrace new habits and thought processes. Positive affirmations are usually crafted in the present tense and work for any changes you want to make in your life from getting more exercise or organizing your house to getting a promotion at work or growing your business.

For this post, we’re going to focus on using affirmations to help us improve our positive and creative thinking. Here are a couple of examples of affirmations to get you thinking about writing your own.

Positive Thinking Affirmations

  • I am full of positive thoughts from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep.
  • I am full of optimism about what the day brings.
  • I find positivity even in the most difficult and stressful situations.
  • I am full of optimistic thoughts.
  • My positive thinking affects those around me in a beneficial way.

Creative Thinking Affirmations

  • I come up with creative solutions with ease.
  • Brilliant ideas and clever solutions come to me all the time.
  • Every day I come up with more creative thoughts.
  • Fresh new ideas come to me daily.
  • Creative energy flows through me.

While these examples are a great starting point, it’s important that you make the affirmations your own. Change them up or write something from scratch that resonates with you. Then, get in the habit of saying these affirmations several times throughout the day. At the very least, get in the habit of reciting your affirmations every morning as soon as you get up.

I find it helpful to write these affirmations down. The process of writing them by hand alone will help you remember them and start to internalize them. Then, hang the note with your affirmation or affirmations for the day in a prominent place.

You can stick them on your bathroom mirror or pin them up in a prominent place on your desk. Make sure you choose a spot where you will see the note several times per day. These visual reminders will help you read and recite your affirmations several times throughout the day.

Last but not least, I want you to realize that affirmations change and evolve over time. When it no longer serves its purpose or you feel that you’ve mastered that part, change it up. Craft a new affirmation and replace the old one. Rinse and repeat as often as you like.

Essential Oil: Live with Passion™

This blend revives the zest for life and improves internal energy with a combination of Royal Hawaiian™ sandalwood, Clary,  Ginger, Jasmine, Angelica, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Helichrysum, Melissa and Neroli, formulated specifically to help attain an optimistic attitude. Diffuse up to 30 minutes three times daily.

The Power Of Combining Minds

I have some mind math for you. When it comes to working together, and particularly when it comes to creative thinking, mind math works like this:

1 + 1 = 3 (or more)

While this may look like I should have failed 1st grade math (I didn’t … just to make that clear), it will make sense in a minute. The basic idea is that when you get two minds together, the end result is more than just the combination of the two.

Chances are you’ve already experienced this yourself. You get together with a friend or colleague and start brainstorming. Each of you brings a unique set of skills and ideas to the table. But when you combine them, you come up with even more than if you had sat down separately to brainstorm a list of ideas and then combined the list.

You bounce ideas off each other and something one of you suggests sparks an idea in the other one. You keep bouncing back and forth and come up with all kinds of great thoughts and ideas that never would have seen the light of day if you hadn’t put your heads together.

In short when you collaborate, you are not only working with your mind, and that of the other person, but you also create a virtual third mind of sorts that’s a combination of the two of you working together. That is where the most creative thinking will happen.

It doesn’t stop at creative thinking. There’s also a lot of power in combining minds when it comes to positive thinking. Positive thoughts can be quite contagious. I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. You can’t help but be in a better mood and start thinking positively when you’re around an optimist.

On the flip side, it can be tough to be upbeat and positive by yourself. It’s much easier in a crowd of like-minded people. Think about how you can surround yourself with more positive and creative thinkers, and you will start to become better and better at coming up with creative solutions.

You don’t have to do it all alone and in isolation. Quite the opposite is true. You’ll do better and make progress faster in all areas of your life when you surround yourself with people who have the same goals and ideas. It works even better when you can find people who are slightly ahead of you. Of course, a mix will also work well.

This is one of the big reasons why mastermind groups or study groups are so helpful whether at work, in business, or at school. Getting together with others and combining minds is a very powerful thing and something we should strive to do more often.

Essential Oil: Hope™

This blend of Sweet almond, Melissa, Juniper, Myrrh and Black spruce may be diffused up to 1 hour three times daily. Hope is essential for moving forward in life. Hopelessness can cause a loss of vision, goals and dreams. Hope™ helps you reconnect with a feeling of strength and grounding, restoring hope for tomorrow.

Sometimes All It Takes Is Time

We live in a fast paced world where we need the answer or results right away… or even better, yesterday. Instant gratification is the name of the game. And, that game comes at a big price. Not only does it cause a lot of stress and give us less time to relax and slow down, it also affects how we think. We don’t always make the best decisions when we’re rushed.

Creative thinking takes time. You have to explore all your options and get through the obvious solutions before you can even make it into the realm of thinking creatively. That doesn’t happen instantly. You have to allow the ideas and thoughts to roll around in your head until a creative solution starts to take shape.

Positive thinking also takes time. We sometimes simply have to wallow in self-pity for a little bit at first. Making the shift from thinking quite a few negative thoughts to positive ones doesn’t happen overnight.

My message to you is this. Give yourself time. Work on it starting now, but don’t expect major changes right away. Be patient with yourself and get there. Don’t despair or give up when a perfect creative solution doesn’t present itself right away. It will come, but it will come in its own good time.

Here are three tips to help you get through those times when positive and creative thinking simply takes a little extra time. These are three things you shouldn’t be doing and what to do instead.

Don’t Force It – You Really Can’t

The hardest thing to understand initially is that you can’t force this type of thinking. Just because you’re working on a deadline or someone is waiting for you to come up with a brilliant solution, isn’t going to make it appear out of thin air. Yes, there are things you can do to speed it up like practicing creative and positive thinking regularly, brainstorming ideas, and looking at something from all possible different angles. But at the end of the day, you can’t force it.

Don’t Give Up – Good Things Are Coming

Which brings us to our next point, just because things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like, doesn’t mean you should give up and move on. Be patient. You’ll get there; and when you do, it will be well worth it.

Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away

No, I’m not talking about giving up. Instead, walk away for a few minutes. Take a breather, think about something else. Go for a walk; go have lunch, go play with the kids…. Do anything that isn’t related to the problem you’re mulling over.

Your subconscious will continue to work towards a solution and one of two things are going to happen. Either, the perfect idea will pop into your head while you’re doing something else, or you’ll get back to work and looking at things with fresh eyes and a fresh mind will make what you should do glaringly obvious.

Essential Oils: Motivation™

Motivation™ stimulates feelings of action and accomplishment, providing positive energy to help overcome feelings of fear and procrastination. Diffuse this blend for 30 minutes up to three times a day, and inhale the scents of Roman chamomile, Black spruce, Ylang ylang and Lavender.

What Is Creative Thinking?

I mentioned in the introductory post about this 30 day blog series that we’d be talking about both positive and creative thinking. So far, we’ve been focusing on positive thinking. Today, we’ll get started with creative thinking by taking a closer look at exactly what it is and how you can benefit from practicing more creative thinking.

Let’s start by going over what it isn’t. Creative thinking doesn’t really have anything to do with creative arts or hobbies. In other words, you don’t have to be a creative person to be a creative thinker. Instead, creative thinking is something that can be learned, and it is certainly something that will help you in all areas of your life. Creative thinking is “out of the box” thinking. It’s a way to look at a problem from a new angle or a new perspective and come up with a new (and hopefully better) solution for it. It’s a great skill to have in your mental tool belt.

Creative thinking often involves looking at all the facts in a new way. The fictional character Sherlock Holmes is a great example of a creative thinker. He sees the same things everyone else sees, but also reads between the lines and fits the puzzle pieces together to come to a surprising solution.

Creative thinking will help you in all areas of your life. It’s simply a good problem solving strategy. Let’s run through a couple of examples. I don’t know about you, but it’s much easier for me to grasp an abstract concept like this by looking at an example.

The Toothpaste Example

Let’s say you’ve been tasked to redesign toothpaste packaging to be more environmentally friendly. The obvious solution would be to use recycled materials in the cardboard box that the tube comes in. Maybe you could even reduce the size of the box and use vegetable ink. Those are all conventional ideas. Creative thinking will make you suggest to get rid of the box altogether, and instead, put a little safety film under the cap so consumers know it hasn’t been tampered with.

Children’s Pants Example

Let’s say your child has outgrown her pants again. Conventional thinking tells you to donate them and go buy new pants. Creative thinking has you getting out your scissors and sewing machine and spending 20 minutes to turn the pants into shorts.

In short, you want to think outside the box and find a solution that’s unconventional. You want to go beyond the obvious. Instead of finding a good or “good enough” solution, you find the perfect one.

The first step towards doing that is to simply realize that it’s OK to get creative. Throw out some ridiculous ideas and play with possible solutions. You never know when you’ll come across something that will not only work, but work better than the obvious answer.  We’ll go into more detail on how to get better at creative thinking and how to encourage it in others throughout this month.

Essential Oil: Common Sense™

Common Sense™ contains Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, Ocotea, Goldenrod, Ruta, Dorado Azul and Lime. Diffuse this blend for 30 minutes up to three times a day, inhale directly, or wear as a fragrance, to increase mental acuity, improve decision-making abilities, and strengthen everyday thinking skills.