Problem-solving, creative or otherwise, call on all regions of the brain. In the article “The Real Neuroscience of Creativity,” Scott Barry Kauffman, Ph.d. relieves us all by informing us of what we already suspected: that we are not using only our right or left brains to be creative or mathematical, by turn. We are calling upon different regions of our brain from both sides to perform different functions.
But nuts and bolts aside, how does it work? Like how do creative ideas happen?
So I bring you my next read. How Creativity works, by Jonah Lehrer.
“The original design for the Pixar studios consisted of three separate buildings, where they’d put the computer scientists in one building, and the animators in a second building and the third building would contain everybody else: the directors, the editors and so on. Steve realized that that was a terrible idea; that the real challenge of Pixar was getting people from these different cultures — these computer scientists and these cartoonists — to work together, to really collaborate. And so he insisted that Pixar studios just be one vast, cavernous space.”
A nod to Kauffman’s research, Lehrer is emphasizing that we cannot simply exist in a vacuum and call upon the right dimension on our brain to create at will.
And how about those of us right-brained creatives that insist we can’t work or perform well chained to a desk all day long? That we can’t go from a meeting to our workspace and churn out results.
Turns out we’re right.
“Step away from the office. Take a long walk. Daydream. Find some way to relax. Get those alpha waves. Alpha waves are a signal in the brain that’s closely correlated with states of relaxation. And what scientists have found is that when people are relaxed, they’re much more likely to have those big ‘A ha!’ moments, those moments of insight where these seemingly impossible problems get solved. So when you hit the wall, the best thing you can do is probably take a very long, warm shower. The answer will only arrive once you stop looking for it.”
If only your company would install hot showers for you at work. If only everybody were lucky enough to work from home.
And in this internet-charged and social media world, you’ll have the advantage if you still read books. You should read real books (or listen to them) because it opens up rooms in your brain and fills them with light and gets you to start thinking about things in a way you wouldn’t have the day before. It connects thing that seem unconnected. But everything is connected, and when you find a connection, you might just come up with “one of the most influential advertising slogans of the second half of the 20th century.”
Like Dan Wieden did for Nike with his ‘Just Do It’ campaign. With deadlines approaching, a figurative wastebasket full of crumpled up pieces of paper, and a dire need for fresh perspective, he stumbled across a line from a Norman Mailer book and tweaked it by one word. “Let’s do it,” a brave executionee’s last words, became, “Just do it.” A brave and reckless attitude fueled one of the most successful brands of the century. You don’t have to know the story behind the brand’s 3 word slogan to feel its impact. Nobody needs to sit down and tell it to you.
So if you’re in a creative line of work, any line of work where you have to come up with new ideas, don’t stifle yourself. Don’t chain yourself. Don’t harness yourself. Work hard on finding a solution, and then take a break when your brain tells you to. Surround yourself with completely unrelated disciplines and people from different lines of work. Like Lehrer advises, go on a walk, take a hot bath, make some tea, watch a short youtube clip, read a little, educate yourself in a new field.
All quotes from this excellent review of How Creativity Works, a must read book by Jonah Lehrer.
Photo Credit to http://wouterdeheij.wordpress.com/