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Improve Your Creative Imagination

Creativity is more than just an active imagination. To actively imagine things, and see and hear things in one's mind, is an important ability, but it doesn't have to involve much creativity, does it? For example, normal daydreaming is a process of imagination, and it can consist of an elaborate fantasy world, but one mostly full of things that many people think about.

Developing a more creative imagination, then, must include working not just on the ability to imagine things, but also on to imagining more original things. This means seeing things that others don't see, and coming up with new ideas. Can you cultivate this? Yes.

You can start by exercising your basic imagination. This can be as simple as thinking in pictures more, or listening to music in your mind. Start playing little "movies" in your mind, until you can watch them on command. It's a simple process, but for those of us that can't easily do it naturally, it can take a lot of practice. Fortunately, it is not an unpleasant activity.

Another step to developing a more creative imagination is to get more creative in your thinking and imagining. This can be as simple as paying attention to your creativity, because our subconscious minds give us more of what we pay attention to. When you ignore creative aspects of your life, you're telling your subconscious they're unimportant, but if you notice when you're creative, your subconscious mind will start feeding you more creative ideas.

Getting into different surroundings can also encourage your creativity. Want more creativity in your love life? Try hiking up a mountain with your partner. Do you write? Sit on a roof to write. Are you looking for creative new ideas for your business? Bring a notebook to the park and sit by the duck pond. A change of environment can get your thinking out of it's ruts.

Start playing games that exercise your creative imagination. One such game uses a technique called "concept combination." Whether played alone or with other players, you combine random concepts or things in new ways, to see who has the best idea. A thermometer and a billboard, for example, could generate an idea for a sign that checks the weather and adjusts the message accordingly ("Come in out of the heat for a cold beverage," or "Come in out of the rain and warm up with our gourmet coffee," or "Come enjoy this beautiful sunset from our deck.").

Wait for Creative Imagination?

Certainly creative inspiration can strike at any time, but such inspiration strikes more often when there is work instead of waiting. So if you want to come up with creative inventions, start mentally redesigning everything you see. Imagine a better bicycle, a faster mail service, or a better chair. Continue this for three weeks, and it will become a habit.

The most creative imaginations go beyond solving specific problems or inventing things. Truly creative minds are always coming up with the questions too, and not just the solutions. To cultivate this kind of creativity, try these three things:

1. Change your perspective. Working just to not work (to retire) might seem silly to a child. Thinking from that child's perspective might give you ideas for how to make money doing things you enjoy. Seeing the world as a bear sees it might give a painter imaginative new ideas. Seeing things from a customer's perspective is a sure way to find creative improvements for a business. Try to see everything from several perspectives.

2. Challenge your assumptions. What if restaurants didn't have employees? Customers pay a machine as they enter, feed themselves at a buffet, and everything is as automated as possible, so one owner-operator could run a large restaurant alone. Challenge all your assumptions for practice. Do you really have to pay rent? Do fish tanks need water? Can friendship be a bad thing?

3. Let ideas run wild. A flying bed may seem silly, but then it could lead to the concept of a helium mattress. Get out of bed in the morning, and it floats up and out of the way, to the ceiling. Ideal for small apartments. Never stifle your creativity. Relax, let ideas come in any form, and remember that you can always discard them later.

If you want these techniques to be a habitual part of your thinking, you have to use them regularly. Since it usually takes several weeks to develop a habit, consciously use them each day. List a few of your favorite creative problem solving techniques on a card, for example, and carry it with you. Look over the list every day and apply the methods there to anything and everything. In a few short weeks your imagination will be more active and more creative.

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