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.

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