Probably the most common myth I’ve come across happens when people believe they can’t come up with good ideas.
The truth is that we all have some type of creative genius inside of us. The only way to release it is to work on our process of thinking.
The key point is this:
You need to become the observer to your own thoughts.
I think the spiritual teacher Osho said it best in this passage:
It is simply sitting silently, witnessing the thoughts, passing before you. Just witnessing, not interfering not even judging, because the moment you judge you have lost the pure witness. The moment you say “this is good, this is bad,” you have already jumped onto the thought process.
It takes a little time to create a gap between the witness and the mind. Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, that you are not the mind, that you are the witness, a watcher.
And this process of watching is the very alchemy of real religion. Because as you become more and more deeply rooted in witnessing, thoughts start disappearing. You are, but the mind is utterly empty.
That’s the moment of enlightenment.
I’m often asked about the best way to improve your process of thinking. There are three approaches I’ve consistently used to help me become the “witness to my own mind” in order to come up with good ideas.
I share these three approaches below, along with some practical recommendations for how you can embrace these approaches.
How to improve your process of thinking through meditation
By far and away the most powerful method for to improve my process of thinking has been meditation. This has helped me to become the witness to my own thinking, which is the best way to come up with new ideas.
I was actually trained in Transcendental Meditation many years ago and have meditated almost every day since. Transcendental Meditation is a little pricey, however, and I wish I came across this short course at the beginning:
Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply & Quickly
This course is absolutely brilliant and has become one of Udemy’s bestselling courses. I think it would have saved me countless hours (and dollars) if I had have come across it when I first started learning how to meditate. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The key concern I had before learning how to meditate was that my mind raced too much. This course has the right emphasis by helping you to stop judging yourself if thoughts creep in while meditating. They still do for me every time I meditate and I just let them go pretty quickly.
Whether you learn to meditate from this course or another method, I think it can help to detach from your own thought processes which will help good ideas more consistently emerge.
Using mindfulness to become the witness to your mind
Mindfulness is another approach I’ve used to detach from my thinking in order to come up with new ideas.
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The key point is this:
When you become the witness to your own process of thinking, then you’re less attached to the ideas you currently hold. This creates the space for new ideas – new connections between different thoughts – to come through.
Meditation is one great way to create this space in your mind. But there are many others.
I’ve found mindfulness to be really useful for helping me to be more present and detach from my thoughts. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Buddhist Master who I consistently read and we write about here at Ideapod’s blog.
Nhat Hanh also has an excellent course on Udemy if you want to dive deeper into his perspective and develop some mindfulness practices that may transform your life:
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mindfulness Practice for Joy and Compassion
Letting go of perfectionism and originality to be creative
Sometimes we experience blocks to our creativity because we’re trying too hard. This often comes when we have high expectations for ourselves. It’s something I’ve struggled with all of my life.
By letting go of my need to always be perfect and original, I’ve freed my mind to come up with new ideas.
Elizabeth Gilbert makes this point in a course she’s offering on Udemy. She’s the bestselling author of many books, including Eat Pray Love, Committed, The Signature of All Things and Big Magic. She explains this well.
As Gilbert says:
“Ideas of every kind are constantly galloping toward us, constantly pass through us, constantly trying to get our attention.”
By letting go of the need to be perfect all the time, you can shift from living a life governed more by curiosity than fear.
In the course, she explains why perfectionism, originality, and passion are overrated and why we should instead strive to be authentic doers who follow our curiosity.
Here are the benefits to the course:
Get started on creative projects that have been stalled
Structure your creative life by learning to break down your time into hobbies, jobs, career, and vocation
Identify how your curiosity can trigger creativity
Understand how to prioritize your own creative fulfillment so that you can better serve others
Create a Purpose Map that pinpoints what you care about and how you can get started pursuing creative projects
Learn from 3 real-life case studies of people facing creative struggles who receive counsel from Elizabeth
I really like how Gilbert recognizes that ideas are continually trying to get our attention. We just need to shift from living a life based on fear to one of curiosity, and we need to capture our ideas.
Here’s the course: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Creativity Workshop.
It’s a tragedy when people believe they can’t come up with good ideas. Everyone has the capability to be creative and there are methods to improve your process of thinking so that you more consistently come up with good ideas.
Three approaches that have helped me are meditation, mindfulness and shifting my mental state to operate more from curiosity than fear. What approaches have helped you to be more creative? Let me know by sharing your ideas on Ideapod and include @justin in your idea.