Tuesday, June 28, 2011
By Joseph Benn
There are plenty of ways you can raise your creativity levels. However the one way that everyone forgets is one of the most simple. Reading. I am a voracious reader (most creative people are) reading on average a book and a half a day. For me it is a habit I developed when I was very young. I believe that this habit has vastly increased my creativity and turned me into the "ideas person" I am today.
Why do I believe this?
When you begin reading regardless of whether it is fiction or nonfiction you are automatically using your imagination turning the words into pictures and other things. You are training your imagination to visualise, smell, feel and to grasp new ideas. Reading is like a workout for your mind! For me reading has also taught me to focus and more importantly it is one of the best ways I know to induce the flow state. The flow state is where everything becomes effortless and automatic and you are totally immersed. I tend to get into a rythym with my reading in terms of breathing and turning pages and these two things induce the flow state which is ideal for creativity. The flow state also increases you receptivity which in this case is important.
Whatever book you sit down to read you are basically taking in their ideas. Its very very rare that we come up with ideas without input from others whether we realise it or not. The ideas you read about will brew in your mind and combine with your own to come up with new ones. This will snowball and you will have even more ideas.
When you read a book you are accessing information that potentially you did not know before. This new information as well as connecting with the information you already know to make new ideas adds another layer of complexity to you as an individual. Contrary to popular belief simple is not always best or good. Complexity really only means a lot more connections. Creative thinking is all about making new connections so the greater the complexity of your mind the more fertile it is for ideas to grow.
So now that we know how reading increases your capacity for creative thinking what are the best books to read?
It my seem obvious but you really want to choose books that deal with concepts and ideas. Science fiction and crime or detective novels are excellent for this. In terms of non fiction anything dealing with philosophy, business or of course creative thinking and ideas are really good. Depending on where you want to take your creativity you may want to consider religious texts or self help. The aim is to expose yourself to books that you would not normally read and absorb the information they contain.
If you read very little then make an effort to read more. Before you sleep, in your lunch time at work where ever is convenient for you just as long as you can read and digest what you are reading. Who knows you might actually find that you enjoy reading and get interested in a new topic. What you will do, probably without even realising it, is increase your creativity.