The Creative Spark! – A Chihuahua on Steroids

When you fire up the blender, do you hear screams, baby gurgles, or mere whirls? Whichever, movie makers plan on you hearing subliminal sounds. Horror filmmakers add screams to creaking floors. Romance movie-makers slip-in moans to nightlife scenes. Most filmmakers add telling conversations you can’t quite hear.

But, this stuff happens every day?in real life. Last week, while in a state of worry, I heard a pit-bull mauling a human. Shocked, I froze and listened. The sounds of the pit-bull slowly shifted into sounds of high-heels clopping. Nothing more.

I used to play spiritual CDs while I slept. I did so to drown out nightmares. Yet, one night, I awoke from a night terror to hear the CD play a demonic voice—speaking directly to me. Now That’s the sound of a night terror. (I since stopped the scary dreams by training my brain to play happy endings.)

Yes, our thoughts change our soundscape. A field called psychoacoustics surely studies this stuff. But even when our minds seemingly play no tricks, we have what is called selective attention. With selective attention, we focus on actual sounds that reflect our emotions. And sometimes we misinterpret these sounds.

For instance, if your loved one recently passed, you might mistakenly hear his laughter. If so, your selective attention is centered on longing. Or if you drive to an AU exam center, the skid of your tires might oddly sound like claps and cheers. If so, your selective attention is centered on success.

Certainly, the sounds we tune into tell us lots about our troubles and triumphs. And, as you’ll soon see, creative people seek out sounds to help them problem solve. And not just sounds, but objects, smells, tastes, and textures. Liz Dean shows you more than problem-solving from sensory cues. She shows you a wealth of ways to problem solve in her book How to Be Creative: Rediscover Your Creativity and Live the Life You Truly Want:

– When you begin problem-solving, let your imagination run wild.
– Brainstorm your problem. While brainstorming, draw or write down your ideas. Connect these ideas. These connections can call out fresh solutions.
– Before you brainstorm your problem, play music. Time your brainstorm session for fifteen minutes. Brainstorm. Then, go for a walk. A solution might dawn on you while you stroll.
– Free write about your problem. By letting your mind run wild, you bypass mental blocks in solving your problem.
– Seek the opportunities in your problem. Aim to grow.
– State your problem from a positive perspective.
– “Break down the problem into chunks and name each chunk” (p. 91). Tackle one chunk at a time.
– To solve problems, break rules. Shift deadlines. Change your space. Making slight changes can solve serious issues.
– Pretend you offered to help a friend solve his or her problem. Then, solve your problem as if it belongs to your friend. This tactic helps depersonalize your problem.
– To solve problems, introverts should act as extroverts for a day?and vice versa. This opens innovative ways of thinking.
– Name your successes. For instance, name yourself, “dance mathematician” if you dance with precise measurements. Then, when you have a problem, think about your named success for a boost of confidence.
– Take cues from your environment as metaphors for your problem. For instance, you might see a bird feed its chicks while You’re mulling over managing an unruly staff. Why not give your staff the worm? In other words, feed your staff higher wages or better benefits.

If you hear a pit-bull growling behind a low-fence, don’t bolt clip-clopping. Dream up a happy ending instead. Perhaps It’s a chihuahua on steroids. A paradox? I call it a Creative Spark!