Breaking free from old thought patterns

With the brain in autopilot mode, we can perform many everyday tasks without any conscious effort. But as for anything else in the world, we pay a price for this ability to filter out the impulses that reach us.

“Break through from your mold” by Zenos Frudakis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

With the autopilot turned on and the filters at the max mode, we simultaneously deprive ourselves from many experiences that both could enrich our daily lives and increase our creativity. Instead, this void is filled up by an endless monkey noise of thoughts that control us as much as we control them. Sometimes this may be good for creativity, but as often it is unwelcome thoughts focussing on problems and negative things.

Sticking to old thought patterns is one of the greatest threats to the creative thinking. Our way of thinking makes past experiences integrated in our brains and turned into our own worldview where we have pre-programmed definite views on how things are and works.

This worldview is reinforced in school, with focus on learning – not on thinking. There is nothing wrong with the learning itself. The more we know, the bigger the banks of memories and impressions we can turn to when we associate. But we also risk locking our thinking based on our past experiences, both those of ourselves and those we learned from others.

The non-creative thinker tries as quickly as possible to find similarities between the problem and previous experiences. This is a very effective way to solve most of the problems we face in our everyday lives, but it does not lead to innovation.

The creative thinker, on the other hand, is drawn to the ambiguous, differences, inconsistencies, the vague and the odd. To be effective in getting new ideas, we therefore constantly need to question our worldview and actively break down the constraints that our thinking patterns give us.

If we do not do this, we will address all issues by looking backwards and assuming how the problem has been resolved in the past rather than looking forward and finding completely novel approaches.

Tip: A terrific way to enrich your life is to consciously notice your insidious habits, and then try to do the opposite. Not because the way you do them is wrong, but to get new experiences and enrich your life.

Vary your breakfast, take a new way home from work, vary your wardrobe, try a new lunch restaurant, change your newspaper, buy a cookbook and work through the recipes, find new walkways, take a bath instead of shower, listen to new radio stations …

By consistently trying to challenge your habits, you will get both new impulses and eventually a way of life where you have easier to see new opportunities.

svensk_flagga Detta blogginlägg på svenska

Author: Karl Ekdahl

International public health leader and creativity blogger.

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