1) First, try to make yourself happier. Even just watching a short comedy clip can help:
Via Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine: How Creativity Works:
Beeman has demonstrated that people who score high on a standard measure of happiness solve about 25 percent more insight puzzles than people who are feeling angry or upset. In fact, even fleeting feelings of delight can lead to dramatic increases in creativity. After watching a short, humorous video— Beeman uses a clip of Robin Williams doing standup— subjects have significantly more epiphanies, at least when compared with those who were shown scary or boring videos. Because positive moods allow us to relax, we focus less on the troubling world and more on these remote associations.
2) Try to do your creative problem solving when you first wake up, or whenever you’re drowsy:
Another ideal moment for insights, according to Beeman and John Kounios, is the early morning, shortly after waking up. The drowsy brain is unwound and disorganized, open to all sorts of unconventional ideas. The right hemisphere is also unusually active. “The problem with the morning, though,” Kounios says, “is that we’re always so rushed. We’ve got to get the kids ready for school, so we leap out of bed, chug the coffee, and never give ourselves a chance to think.” If you’re stuck on a difficult problem, Kounios recommends setting the alarm clock a few minutes early so that you have time to lie in bed. We do some of our best thinking when we’re half asleep.
3) Don’t try to hard — it’s counterproductive:
One of the surprising lessons of this research is that trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight. While it’s commonly assumed that the best way to solve a difficult problem is to relentlessly focus, this clenched state of mind comes with a hidden cost: it inhibits the sort of creative connections that lead to breakthroughs. We suppress the very type of brain activity that should be encouraged.
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