When I think about opening my creative mind, or creative side, a collage of images rotates through my thoughts. Being creative is not something that comes from nowhere like an alien and his probe. Creativity is something I work at. I compare it to building muscles with weights. The more consistently I perform creative activities, the more creative I am.
One of the ways I open my creative mind is by thinking beyond what is seen or heard. It's about using any and all things going on in my life as an opportunity for exploration. When someone is telling me a story, I start asking myself "what if" questions. Most of the time, I ask the "what if's" internally, so the other person doesn't get upset by me hijacking their story.
Below is a recent example of how I hijacked someone's story, which wasn't pleasant, and you'll see why.
My dog-loving friend was telling me how she saw a dog running loose in her neighborhood. She's not the type to keep driving, bless her heart. She pulled over and spent a reasonable amount of time coaxing this dog into being friends with her. This loveable dog got close enough for the tags to be read and then bolted, like her FBI cover had just been blown in the middle of Mafia Town.
The evasive maneuvers are not something that detours my friend; she takes off after the dog and watches it go back inside a house just a block away. The door is wide open and this weighs heavy on her heart. Should she shut the door or leave? If she doesn't close the door, the dog will most likely get out again. What if she goes to shut the door and the owner walks out, and confrontation begins? She finds herself closing the door like the great neighbor she is and continues driving to work.
I listen intently as she's telling me about the drama, comedy, and difficult decision in the end. My first response is if the door is open, maybe it's because a killer ran out and didn't get it shut? The whole family could be in the basement dead, and now your fingerprints are on the door!
My friend didn't take that very well because she went from happy to paranoid in a matter of seconds. I ruined her moment to be happy and proud of her good deed.
Don't worry, I apologized, and we are still great friends. She reached out to those neighbors, and I was relieved when she told me they are alive. I also decided not to open up a discussion on what would have happened if they never returned her message?
Exploring the other side of a story is how I open up the creative part of my brain. If there is a lot of time that has passed with nothing exciting happening, I find something completely mundane and start asking myself "what if" questions about it.
As an example, I was driving and saw a sprinkler head shooting all the water in one direction, the sidewalk. Everyone was walking around it or moving to the other side of the street to avoid it. That may seem like a very regular occurrence, but I started to ask myself the "what if's."
My creative brain is engaged when I start to ask myself these types of questions. When I start digging deeper into the scenario, I feel my brain expanding.
I mentioned above that these "what if" exercises are one method I use to expand my creative mind. Some other ways are drawing, coloring, reading, having in-depth abstract conversations with my children, tending to my plants, and just being in nature. I love to soak up these moments and let my brain blaze pathways that are not part of my regular routine. When my brain uses different thought processes, it feels better, and I'm happier because I'm learning and expanding my knowledge.
I'd love to hear what you do to expand your creative side?