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Creative Thinking

So many of the challenges of life involve getting unstuck. You may find yourself stuck in a job that is unstimulating, in a relationship that has ceased to nourish you, on a vacation that promised excitement and developed into boredom, with a headache that no longer responds to two aspirins.

Stuck" is the state of finding a brick wall in the maze, then retracing your steps only to take the same path again. It happens because you believe your options are limited to what has worked in the past, or because you are afraid to consider or chance the alternatives. You may choose to stay where you are because it seems safer. It is the known, the home court, the backyard. Afraid of uncertainty, ambiguity, dynamic tension, you try again and again to apply the old solutions, and end up frustrated, or at least dissatisfied with the results.

William James defines genius, or creativity, as "the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way." Habits can keep us stuck. Breaking habitual ways of thinking gets us unstuck. The process is essentially one of making new connections. When we create the opening for two previously unrelated elements to come together in an uncharacteristic way, a new form emerges. Or, we open our eyes for the first time and really see something entirely different from what we have seen before, and we're off and running on a new track. Sandburg feels the fog and watches a cat move and writes a poem that connects the two. Picasso likes blonde women and baskets of fruit and so paints the two together. Newton gets hit on the head with an apple. You eat raspberry and tangerine ice cream and go home to repaint your bedroom in pink and orange. It can happen anywhere, anytime. Do you allow for the possibility?

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