Boosting Your Creativity – Just Like Einstein – Even in Crisis Times! Part 1.

Even during times of crisis and major uncertainty, creativity is very useful. The outbreak gripping the world at present, the Corona Virus (covid-19), is causing all sorts of interruption globally. The pandemic is causing us to think like we’ve never thought before or at least in a very long time.

Creativity brings itself to the forefront once again. How we use it to solve some almost unthinkable problems is up to us. Fortunately, we have viable resources upon which to fall back.

In the continuing process of exploring the myriad aspects of creativity, I was intrigued by this article from the Trillo blog regarding how Albert Einstein used a certain kind of “play” to enhance his creative streaks. What’s appealing to me is that all of us can learn from this, whether or not we’re engaged in a global pandemic.

I dare say everyone wants to boost their creativity. Now especially. How about boosting it on a par with the likes of Einstein? Well, it has to do with what’s referred to as Combinatory Play.

What the heck is Combinatory Play?

“Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.”
– Albert Einstein

The term “combinatory play,” also known as combinatorial creativity, was perhaps first coined by Albert Einstein in a letter to French mathematician Jacques Hadamard. In an attempt to understand mathematicians’ mental processes, Hadamard asked Einstein about how he thought.

Einstein-final

Einstein’s letter reply, later published in Ideas and Opinions, explained that his thinking process transcended what could be communicated in the written or spoken word, but that there was “a certain connection between those elements and relevant logical concepts.”

Huh?

Well, Einstein was known to play violin whenever he was stuck on a tough problem and often spoke of how music influenced the way he thought about math and science. His sister, Maja, said that sometimes after playing piano, he’d get up and say, “There, now I’ve got it.”

Albert Einstein quote

Call it combinatory play, combinatorial creativity, or intuition—we’ve all experienced that flash of insight, that fleeting moment when a solution we’ve been grinding away at reveals itself in an unexpected place. Playing violin helped Einstein theorize about time and space. What might be your Combinatory Play?

“Creativity is just connecting things.” – Steve Jobs

Steve+Jobs

Stuck in Traffic on the Neural Pathway to Nowhere

Understanding why Combinatory Play boosts creativity, means we should look at how the brain works.

The brain’s building blocks are neurons: nerve cells that receive and transmit signals along neural pathways. In Harvard professor of psychiatry John Ratey’s A User’s Guide to the Brain, certain pathways are forged at birth, like the ones that control your breathing and heartbeat. Others can be manipulated by learning. So when you’re stuck in a rut, your brain’s neurons could literally be stuck on a neural pathway you’ve carved out through your behavior.

The good news is you can get your brain unstuck by choosing to make new connections—forge a new neural pathway. Ratey explains, “A person who forcibly changes his behavior can break the deadlock by requiring neurons to change connections to enact the new behavior.”

If you’re frustrated by mental processes that lead nowhere, it’s kind of like your brain is taking the same old route to work every day because that’s what you’ve trained it to do. But if the highway is congested and you’re sitting in traffic, it’s up to you to tell your brain that there’s a new route it should take to get to where you want to go.

Comfort In Familiarity

Your brain is continually striving for order and predictability, and as a result, can get pretty set in its ways. While reverting to familiar paths can keep you safe and comfortable, it can also hinder your creativity. Therefore, it’s important to quiet this part of the brain if you want to invent new solutions. Combinatory Play can help you do this by relaxing your mind.

The Brain’s Inclination for Seeking Patterns Encourages Innovation

As clinical psychologist Victoria Stevens explains: “Our pattern-seeking behavior is an essential part of creative thinking, although it can also produce false assumptions and biases when previous experiences lead us to beliefs we do not question. In addition, finding links, connections, and patterns between apparently dissimilar things is essential to creative thinking.”

Your pattern-seeking behavior can benefit you in creative thinking. Just remember to:

  • Question your assumptions
  • Try to find patterns where it seems like none exist

Combinatory Play allows you to zoom out, see the bigger picture, and spot the patterns. This is especially true at times like this. Think and act creatively and responsibly, not out of fear or panic but out of rational, logical thought. The calmer we are, the better.

Continued in Part 2 . . .


Thanks to Amy Rigby in

Friday Fun Quotes: Masters’ Collection

This Friday’s edition of the blog again highlights various quotes in yet a different manner. Their authors don’t necessarily come from the advertising industry but are involved in some aspect of creativity.

Serling, Poe, Van Gogh, Einstein – quite a master’s collection, wouldn’t you say? While I am definitely a fan of Rod Serling and his Twilight Zone series, I also enjoy the works of my relative, Edgar Allan Poe. Yes, I am a writer. I learned years ago in reading a Louisiana history book, that my great-great-great uncle (Poe) was Edgar’s cousin or something like that.

And, yes, I do believe there is some truth to what “Uncle Edgar” (as I call him) says in the first quote below.

Uncle Edgar Quote

Edgar Allan Poe-silhoutte quote

Albert Einstein quote

Van Gogh Quote

Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.                                                                        –  Rod Serling 

...No matter what the future brings, man’s capacity to rise to the occasion will remain unaltered. Our  potential for tenacity and optimism continues, as always, to outfight and outlive any and all changes made by society. – Rod Serling. Twilight Zone “Steel.”

 

Rod Serling Profile:Quote

Rod Serling-Graduation

So long as you care, so long as you commit, so long as you concern yourself with the human condition, you have it in your power, perhaps twenty years from now, to be called to deliver a Commencement Address against a background of an infinitely finer world. – Rod Serling

Rod Serling-Behind Curtain

The writer broadens, becomes more observant, more tempered, wiser… It  is not something that is injected into him by a needle…  It doesn’t  work that way. It’s a tedious, tough, frustrating process, but never,  ever be put aside by the fact that it’s hard. – Rod Serling.

So, do you have a favorite? Which one really speaks to you? Let me know, and I may pass it on to Uncle Edgar!

Friday Fun Quotes: Advertising & Others

Continuing a series of various illustrious quotes, here are some worth-remembering “sayings” which I find interesting and inspiring. Hopefully, you will, too.

Some quotes are from the American Advertising Federation newsletter “Smart Brief,” while others come from various sources. Enjoy!!

Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go. – Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018

There is no way for the American economic system to function without advertising.  John O’Toole

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. – Albert Einstein

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared. – J. K. Rowling

I’ve always felt advertising was a major instrument of the free enterprise system. Effective advertising can not only have a truly powerful impact on clients’ fortunes but for their stockholders and employees as well and therein a great ripple effect on our economy.    Liener Temerlin

 

quote

 

To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.  Isaac Asimov, writer and professor

I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive.  David Ogilvy

Be honest, truthful, and altruistic. If you concern yourself with taking care of others, there’ll be no room for lies, bullying and cheating. If you’re truthful you can live transparently, which will enable you to establish trust, the basis for making friends. Dalai Lama 

There is no material with which human beings work which has so much potential energy as words.  Earnest Elmo Calkins,

Inspiration can strike at anytime, anywhere. But usually not at 1 a.m. in the office.  Lee Clow (Lee Clow’s Beard tweet)

 

Do you have a favorite? If so, lemme know.

Friday Fun Quotes: Advertising and Otherwise

Continuing a series of various illustrious quotes, here are some worth-remembering “sayings” which I find interesting and inspiring. Hopefully, you will, too.

Some quotes are from the American Advertising Federation newsletter “Smart Brief,” while others come from various sources. Enjoy!!

quote

Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.   Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018

There is no way for the American economic system to function without advertising. – John O’Toole

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. – Albert Einstein

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared. – J. K. Rowling

I’ve always felt advertising was a major instrument of the free enterprise system. Effective advertising can not only have a truly powerful impact on clients’ fortunes but for their stockholders and employees as well and therein a great ripple effect on our economy. Liener Temerlin

To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well. – Isaac Asimov

I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive. – David Ogilvy

Be honest, truthful, and altruistic. If you concern yourself with taking care of others, there’ll be no room for lies, bullying and cheating. If you’re truthful you can live transparently, which will enable you to establish trust, the basis for making friends. – Dalai Lama 

There is no material with which human beings work which has so much potential energy as words. – Earnest Elmo Calkins

Inspiration can strike at anytime, anywhere. But usually not at 1 a.m. in the office. – Lee Clow via Lee Clow’s Beard tweet

So, whatchathink? Gotta favorite? Lemme know.