Never Stop Learning: It Keeps Your Mind Sharp

Thinking creatively takes a sharp mind. And the best way to ensure your mind is and stays as sharp as it can be is to make sure you use it as much and as often as possible. That means leaning new stuff all the time. Not only does it help keep your brain cells active and firing fast, but studying a variety of topics over time also gives you new perspectives and new information that will pop up and be helpful in the most unusual and surprising ways.

Learning a new language will help you recognize and interpret patterns. Opening yourself up to new cultures teaches you that there are many different ways to do things. This in turn helps you think creatively about the problems you’re solving. It helps you think outside the box.

There’s a reason we spent so much time in school at a young age. It’s not really about learning about algebra, geometry, world capitals, and literature of Victorian England. It’s about learning how to make connections, how to think, and how to get good at processing new information.

The key to staying that way and even getting better and better is to take the time to learn something new each month, each week, and each day. The good news is that it’s now easier than ever before to continue learning. Thanks to multimedia and the internet, you have courses, classes, books, lectures, “webinars,” and the likes ready at your fingertips. Let’s run through some examples of how you can continue to learn something new on a regular basis and keep your mind sharp.

Start local. There are lots of fun and interesting continued education classes available through your community library or colleges in your area. You may also find some interesting opportunities through your job. Ask around and see if there are extra classes or courses you can take in your free time. Not only will they keep your mind sharp, they will make you a more valuable team and family member as well.

Reading is a great daily activity to sharpen the mind and learn something new. Challenge yourself to read one new book a month or even a week. Explore material outside of your typical genres. Read a piece of fiction one week, some non-fiction on an interesting topic the next, and then move to a literary classic. Changing it up frequently will sharpen your mind even further, and it does wonders for expanding your horizons. If you find it hard to read or to find the time to read, try audio books. You can listen while you commute or even while you clean up around the house and yard.

No matter how busy you are, you can make time for this. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. Spending even 15 to 30 minutes per day on learning something new will do you a lot of good. Don’t think about just the mind either. Learn a new craft or pick up a new skill that will come in handy around the house. Mix it up and keep yourself on your toes.

Sign up for an online class, watch some YouTube videos or Ted Talks, and keep looking for opportunities to sharpen your skills and gain some new ones. Look into anything and everything that seems interesting. Keep learning and keep adding to this vast library of knowledge and experiences that you can draw from when it comes time to think creatively. Not only will it help you there, it will also enrich all areas of your life and keep you young at heart.

Essential Oil: Oola® Grow™

Oola® Grow™ essential oil blend gives you courage to focus on the task at hand and helps you move toward positive advancement and progression. Diffuse up to 30 minutes three times a day.

Having Fun Helps Cultivate Positive & Creative Thinking

A few days ago, we talked about the culture at Google and how it promotes creative thinking. One of the things you hear again and again is how much fun it is to work there. As it turns out, having fun is an important part of cultivating positive and creative thinking.

Our brains simply work better when we’re having fun and are relaxed. You know this yourself. When you’re tense, worried, or intimidated, it’s hard to come up with something upbeat and creative. When you’re in a group of people or an environment where you’re having fun on the other hand, ideas will flow more freely.

Think about what you can do to make your environment more fun. Add some color to your workspace. Let in some light and surround yourself with things that make you happy. Don’t take yourself and those around you too seriously. Have a laugh.

A great way to get into the right frame of mind when you’re collaborating to find a solution to a serious problem is to ask everyone to come up with the worst possible solution. You can even do this by yourself. Try to outdo each other and keep coming up with even worse solutions and scenarios. Not only does it help put your mind at ease and make you laugh, it also gets you to look at the problem from all angles and prepares you for getting creative in finding the best solution.

Having things to fidget, doodle, or play with can also be a big help. We are able to focus our minds better, listen more actively, and pay more attention when our hands are busy. Keep a few little toys or, at the very least, a pen and paper close by. Figure out what helps you focus the most. Maybe, it’s a Rubik’s Cube. Maybe, it’s twirling a pen. Maybe, it’s having some play-dough or Lego’s to play with while you’re thinking. Figure out what helps you get into that creative and positive head-space where the great solutions are found.

Not only will you help your team at work, your friends, and your family think more creatively and positively by having more fun throughout the day, it also makes it a much more pleasant experience to be around each other. That in turn builds loyalty, friendship, and love that ensures that everyone involved is ready to give you their best. As an added bonus, you end up having a lot more fun throughout your day.

Essential Oil: Acceptance™

Acceptance™ is a blend of Sweet almond, Coriander, Geranium, Bergamot, Frankincense, Royal Hawaiian™ sandalwood, Neroli, Grapefruit, Tangerine, Spearmint, Lemon, Blue cypress, Davana, Kaffir lime, Ocotea, Jasmine, Matricaria, Ylang ylang, Blue tansy and Rose. It stimulates the mind, compelling us to open and accept new things, people or relationships in life, allowing one to reach a higher potential. Acceptance™ also helps us to overcome procrastination and denial. Diffuse this blend up to 1 hour three times daily.

The Power of Open Ended Questions and Discussion

There’s a lot you can do to encourage creative thinking in all areas of your life. In yesterday’s post, we talked about changing the climate and culture around you, as well as, your environment. That’s one strategy to get you there. Today I have another one for you – open ended questions and free discussion.

This works well when you’re working with someone or in a team. We’ll start there, and then I’ll show you some tweaks you can use to make this work when you’re on your own. The idea is to start with some open ended questions and encourage as much discussion as possible. When you don’t limit yourself through the questions you ask, you leave room to get creative, to push past boundaries and come up with something unique and creative.

Here’s a super simple example to illustrate. Let’s say you’re thinking of painting your bedroom. Instead of asking yourself or your spouse if you should paint it cream or yellow, keep it open ended and ask what you should do about the walls in your bedroom. Asking this way, allows you to explore a lot more options. You may consider different colors. You may consider painting one wall yellow and the rest a complimentary cream or off-white color. You could consider wallpaper or stripping it down to the brick or wood beneath all that color. Or you could decide to leave it alone and spend your time and energy on repainting the kitchen instead. Do you see how open ended questions allow you to explore all your options?

This type of question also works really well in team or family meetings, particularly in the early stages when you’re trying to figure out what your options are. If you want an example of creative and out-of-the-box thinking, ask your young kids what would make for a fun vacation. You’ll be amazed by their creativity. With adults, we sometimes have to suspend belief and the limits we think are in place. Encourage your team to think past the lines that they think are insurmountable because “it’s just not done”, “it’s too expensive”, “it won’t work”, and the likes.

Get the people around you – and yourself – used to answering open-ended questions. Encourage discussions and brainstorming. When it starts to get to the point that it sounds ridiculous (take a vacation to the moon anyone?) you know you’re in the realm of creative thinking. Try it out for yourself and get in the habit of using open ended questions as much as possible.

Essential Oil: Citrus Fresh™

This blend of Orange, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin orange and Spearmint is said to stimulate the right brain to amplify creativity and well-being. Citrus Fresh™ helps eradicate anxiety and works well as an air purifier. When diffused, it adds a clean, fresh scent to any environment.

Cultivating A Creative & Positive Thinking Climate Around You

We are affected by our environment. The space we’re in, the sounds we hear, the scents we smell, and the people we surround ourselves with all have an impact on how we feel, act, and think. If you want to get better at creative and positive thinking, you should make sure you create and cultivate an environment and climate that promotes and fosters just that.

Let’s look at Google as an example. They have some of the most creative and upbeat teams on the planet. Google comes up with ideas and concepts no one else has even thought of, and they do so consistently and continually. They do it by creating a corporate culture and climate that makes it fun and easy to come up with creative and crazy ideas no one else has thought of.

While you don’t have to go as far as Google has gone, you should give some serious thought to your environment and the climate you create around you. This could apply to your surroundings, your work space, your home, and even the people around you including team members, employees, and family.

Start with the things that put you in a good mood. Maybe it’s a nice sunny room or a dark office with no distractions. Maybe it’s a plant on your desk or a fun poster on the wall. Maybe it’s sitting in a recliner instead of at a desk or being able to hop on the treadmill throughout you day to get the blood pumping and the endorphins going.

Then, think about what helps you think. Maybe it’s having something to fidget with. Maybe it’s going for a walk outside or listening to a particular type of music. You know yourself and what works for you. What does it take to get you into the zone where work becomes easy and you have your best ideas? What puts you in a good mood? Those are the things you want to surround yourself with.

Start small and keep adding to it. Keep working on it and encourage the people around you to do the same. Slowly but surely, you’ll change the climate of your office, your home, or wherever you are into a most positive and creative one.

Before long, you’ll start to notice a change in yourself and those around you. The nice thing is that this type of change is contagious. The creativity and positivity will bounce from you to the people around you and back. Before you know it, positive and creative thinking will be the new norm, and there’s no telling where that will take you.

Essential Oil: Inspiration™

Inspiration™ is a blend of pure essential oils that were traditionally used by native people of Arabia, India, and North America for enhancing spirituality and meditation. You will benefit from this combination of Cedarwood, Black spruce, Myrtle, Coriander, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood™, Frankincense. Furocoumarin-free Bergamot, Vetiver, Ylang ylang and Geranium when you diffuse up to 1 hour three times daily.

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.