In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty discusses the significance of creativity in our lives and highlights the unfortunate neglect of creative development within conventional educational frameworks.
Moreover, he offers the listeners eight ways to overcome their creativity block, such as finding alternative sources of inspiration and meeting new, inspiring people.
What Is Creativity?
Jay Shetty points out that in the school system, the primary focus is identifying the "right" answer. This approach may be suitable for subjects like mathematics but inadequate for nurturing creativity, particularly in literature and self-expression.
According to Jay, this binary approach, where answers are categorized as "correct" or "incorrect," stifles our inherent curiosity and hinders exploring creative possibilities. Creativity is not about reaching a definitive or conclusive solution; it's about embarking on a journey of discovery and embracing the wealth of open-ended possibilities.
However, Jay Shetty observes that the Western education system has ingrained in people the belief that every question has a definitive "yes" or "no" answer. This approach is dampening our enthusiasm for asking questions and stifling unconventional ideas. This conditioning leads many to suppress their creative impulses and label their ideas "foolish" or “unworkable.”
The Role of Education
Jay Shetty acknowledges that these constraints from educational backgrounds can extend into our adult lives. They can make people quick to judge and dismiss innovative concepts rather than nurturing creative thinking to explore their potential.
Drawing inspiration from Sir Ken Robinson, Jay Shetty suggests the listeners reshape their perspective on human potential and the pivotal role of creativity in education. Robinson argues that creativity should be equal to literacy in our contemporary world. Moreover, he advocates for an educational system that encourages diverse thinking and appreciates that thinking differently should not be equated with being incorrect.
Jay Shetty stresses that creativity drives novelty, innovation, and aesthetic beauty. Whether it's the distinctiveness of architectural designs, the allure of unique book covers, or the imaginative appeal of furniture creations, creativity elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary. Therefore, Jay recommends Keith Sawyer's book, Zigzag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity, for those seeking practical guidance on enhancing their creative capabilities.
Jay Shetty suggests a simple yet effective way to ignite your creative spark. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating something significant or unique, he encourages the audience to start small. He emphasizes the power of visiting bookshops, where you are surrounded by decades of research, learning, and art encapsulated in the titles and covers of books.
In a bookshop, Jay Shetty sees more than just a place to buy books; it's a hub of intelligence that markets ideas rather than products. While products can improve our lives in various ways, ideas define our lives and guide our decision-making. Therefore, Jay believes that ideas are a compass for life, influencing our choices and even how we use products.
Jay Shetty's favorite activity in a bookshop is to select two random books and explore a chapter from each. He seeks to find connections or similarities between these seemingly unrelated topics. This practice challenges the mind to connect dots that may not appear to have any connection at first glance. He cites Steve Jobs, who stated that creativity is about connecting things.
Jay Shetty also discusses the example of the founder of Pokemon Go. This founder used technology to encourage people, especially children, to explore the outdoors. This creative endeavor connected seemingly opposing ideas: video games and outdoor activities. It illustrates how creativity can emerge when you find common ground between contrasting concepts.
Ask Better Questions
Jay Shetty emphasizes that the key to unlocking creativity often lies in the questions we ask. Sometimes, the problem isn't that we ask the wrong questions but that we must ask more profound and diverse questions.
We typically ask ourselves and others questions such as "What do you do?" or "Do you enjoy your work?" These questions often lack depth and fail to stimulate creativity. Therefore, he suggests delving deeper by asking questions like "What aspects of your work do you find enjoyable?" or "On a scale of one to ten, how much do you enjoy it?" This shift in questioning can lead to more insightful and innovative answers.
As inspiration, Jay Shetty shares the example of Starbucks' journey. Initially, they asked, "How can we recreate the Italian espresso bar in the United States?" This question provided a specific but limited focus. However, their creativity flourished when they reframed, "How can we create a comfortable, relaxing environment to enjoy great coffee?" This shift in perspective led to the creation of a unique coffeehouse experience.
Jay Shetty also references Kevin Systrom, the creator of Instagram, who initially aimed to build a better location-sharing app. However, his creativity soared when he rephrased the question, "How can we create a simple photo-sharing app?" This subtle change in question formulation was instrumental in the success of Instagram.
Jay Shetty encourages the audience to reflect on the questions they are currently asking themselves. Instead of getting stuck and frustrated by recurring challenges, he advises considering alternative questions that can open up new possibilities.
Solve Real Problems
Jay Shetty presents a creative exercise that involves solving real-life problems in your imagination. The goal is not to immediately execute the solutions but to train your mind to think critically and creatively without constraints such as time, energy, or money limitations.
Jay emphasizes the importance of becoming a critical thinker by identifying genuine challenges you face. These challenges could range from generating podcast episode ideas, improving communication with toxic family members, or staying focused at work despite distractions. The key is to select a problem that resonates with you.
The creative exercise involves imagining and brainstorming solutions to the chosen problem without limitations. You are encouraged to think without restrictions, allowing your mind to explore limitless possibilities. This practice helps shift the mindset from a habitually restricted and compartmentalized way of thinking to a more expansive, unrestricted, and infinite approach.
Thomas Power, Jay's mentor, categorized people as either "CSC" (closed, selective, and controlling) or "ORS" (open, random, and supportive). The "ORS" group was more open to new ideas, willing to embrace randomness, and ready to support others. Being open to change and new concepts, even while adhering to one's values and principles, is a hallmark of a creative and free-thinking mindset.
Immerse Yourself into a New World
Jay Shetty offers practical suggestions to stimulate creativity while preparing for travel. He encourages travelers to engage in activities that can foster creativity and expand their horizons:
- Learn Basic Local Language: Jay recommends learning some basic phrases in the local language of the destination you're visiting. This can include simple phrases for ordering food, asking for directions to the bus or train station, or finding the restroom. Learning a bit of the local language helps with practical communication and immerses you in the local culture and mindset, sparking creativity.
- Explore History: To broaden your perspective and ignite creativity, Jay suggests delving into the history of the place you're visiting. Discovering the historical background of buildings, landmarks, or events, even if initially seemingly unrelated to your interests, can enlighten and inspire creative thinking. It allows you to see how the present has evolved from the past.
- Engage with Local Media: Jay recommends reading a local newspaper or tuning in to a local radio station. Doing so disrupts your routine and exposes you to different perspectives, music, and news from the area you're visiting. This exposure to local culture and viewpoints can spark creativity by introducing new ideas and challenging your established thought patterns.
These activities don't require acquiring new skills or taking on extravagant challenges. Still, they can serve as small yet effective ways to cultivate creativity and broaden your horizons.
Jay Shetty's fifth suggestion for sparking creativity is to play with toys. George Bernard Shaw once said: "We don't stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing." Jay emphasizes the value of engaging with physical toys like Legos, whether while playing with nieces, nephews, or friends' children. Building towers or cars with tangible objects rekindles a connection with hands-on creativity that is often missing in our digital age. It serves as a powerful way to activate the brain's creative potential.
In a world where many of our tasks are digital and automated, this physical engagement with toys can rejuvenate our creative faculties. Constructing something with our hands stimulates cognitive processes that have become less prominent in our daily lives. By observing how children perceive and interact with toys, adults can gain fresh perspectives and insights, reigniting their creativity.
Jay shares a personal anecdote about a friend who suggested that he should start a school one day. The suggestion sparked a new perspective: rather than immediately acting on creating a school, he realized he was passionate about studying and researching this area.
The key takeaway is not to adopt your friends' suggestions verbatim but to use them as thought-provoking stimuli. By seeking their opinions on what you excel at or what you could contribute to the world, you can gain fresh insights and ideas that may lead you in unexpected and creative directions.
Move Things Around
Jay Shetty suggests redecorating, emphasizing the significance of strategic placement rather than an expensive home makeover. He shares a personal experience about wanting to break the habit of mindlessly watching TV after work, leaving him feeling unfulfilled. To counter this, Jay removed TVs from rooms where he spent time after work and strategically positioned books in those spaces to encourage alternative activities.
Redecorating isn't only about changing the wallpaper and buying new furniture but also about repositioning items to evoke different emotions and behaviors. For example, placing a piece of art in your line of sight upon waking up or positioning a scented candle by the couch can create intentional sensory experiences that disrupt established routines.
Jay underscores the importance of disrupting machine-like patterns that have developed in our lives. While disciplined routines have their merits, incorporating moments of creativity and intentional change can rekindle a more human and vibrant approach to living.
Leave Your Bubble
Jay Shetty's eighth tip centers around expanding your social circle by seeking out friends from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life. He emphasizes connecting with individuals who bring different perspectives, languages, and experiences into your life. This diversity enriches your creativity and fosters a sense of community.
By forming friendships with people from various backgrounds, Jay discovered new cultures, cuisines, and entertainment that he had missed out on while growing up in his bubble. He encourages listeners to burst their bubbles as they age, not only for creativity but also for the sense of connection and community it can bring.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “8 Proven Ways to Get out of a Creative Block & Fin Your Flow” now on Apple. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.
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