Finding Your Creativity | Emily Frith | TEDxUniversityofMississippi

humans have the unique ability to create the improbable to seek out originality for its own sake to derive elegant solutions from complex problems and to even find new problems where none were thought to exist we celebrate the social value of our creative contributions and recognize the impact they may have for years to come for these reasons and countless more creativity is both the foundation and the pinnacle of human progress making progress towards solving a difficult problem requires that we take a new perspective often problems are presented to us with instructions to follow whether they be strict or loosely defined like following a rubric for a class project learning the techniques for a particular style of art or conducting an experiment using the scientific method but learning how to follow instructions without allowing them to limit your creative spirit is really hard consider this task for example this is a common laboratory exercise designed to evaluate creative thinking potential if you were a participant in a study using this measure you would be asked to draw lines connecting all nine dots on the grid and that's really easy right except the catches you must only draw four lines to connect the dots and you absolutely cannot remove your pin from the page can you figure it out because the challenges posed by these instructions are difficult to overcome creative individuals are able to do so because they think outside of the box or maybe even ask themselves what box as they draw lines beyond the perimeter of the grid satisfying the instructions coming up with a creative solution you can even solve this task using only three lines but I'll let you figure that one out for yourself so while thinking outside of the box seems important for problem-solving it's also very important for creative problem finding as well the brilliant scientist Carl Sagan once joked if you want to make an apple pie from scratch you must first create the universe while this would be an extreme cooking strategy the logic behind a statement is profound because sometimes it's helpful to just take a step back and recognize how intricate the world really is that all we will ever imagine innovate and experience is made possible by a reorganization of tools and resources the transformation of common ingredients of the world into new ideas and that's something that researchers call divergent thinking we can practice a divergent thinking exercise now by considering a common household item like a safety pin now the normal use for a safety pin might be to fasten articles of clothing together or pieces of fabric but the alternative or divergent use could be to use as a lockpick when you've forgotten your keys or to stick in that apple pie to see if it's finished baking but perhaps a better real world example of divergent thinking is the story of a company called Apple which some of you may have heard of before they've made quite a splash in the worldwide modernization of technology Steve Wozniak of Apple created apples very first computer the Apple one using a typewriter like keyboard that could hook up to a TV screen nobody asked him to build a personal computer and he wasn't obligated to find any one particular solution all he wanted to do was prove that he could build a computer using inexpensive resources and maybe just get a little acknowledgement for his on Genuity his friend Steve Jobs recognized the utility of these new connections and the rest of the store Rory goes down in history showcasing how the power of creativity of finding new problems and thinking divergently is revolutionary the founders of Apple were about my age when they came out with the Apple one I'm not currently making a massive tech impact across the globe but I devote a lot of my time to studying what might contribute to our ability to do so from solutions as simple as using a safety pin to pick a lock to as complex as finding the right notes to compose a symphony or proposing a theory to help explain the universe creativity is everywhere and it's in everyone this university celebrates creativity all the time we have an office of research scholarship innovation and creativity faculty and students are rewarded for their creative accomplishments and this event champions creative ideas ideas worth spreading not too long ago I had an idea for an experiment and during this experiment I asked each participant what do you do in your daily life that makes you feel most creative and so many people responded I don't think I am creative maybe you don't think you're creative but maybe you've just never had to be because I expect that you have ideas worth spreading and I'm confident you have the ability to do so there are perhaps simple strategies we can use to elevate our creative thinking ability and one of these strategies is through exercise because creativity relies on areas in the brain involved in motivated attention planning goal-setting flexibly adapting to our ever-changing environment and self-control exercise activates these same brain areas creativity is very under-researched in the field of health promotion with a lot of experimental opportunities for both problem solving and problem finding but exercise has been repeated shown to improve our ability to think and remember creativity is nourished by the richness of our past experiences so exercise may be sufficient to help us think more creatively so you see the common health benefits of exercise extend much further than our bodies because exercise is good for not only the body but the mind as well and some of the most notable creative minds in history Einstein and Mozart reported going on long walks to allow their ideas to flow more abundantly but even going on a short brisk walk and help jumpstart your creative thinking potential taking as little as 10 to 15 minutes every day to go on a walk by yourself or with friends and colleagues is a worthwhile strategy to consider it's kind of like refueling your mental gas tank activating those creative brain centers and allowing you to come back to the drawing board mentally rejuvenated I can't give you a template to follow to ensure that you'll be more creative in your daily lives research hasn't quite gotten that far just yet and a checklist for creativity would be the very antithesis if it's lore but I can encourage you to do the things that you're good at with the motivation and the energy necessary to make a difference regardless of what ideas you take home with you today it's important to remember to find a unique path to solving difficult problems to overcome the limitations of instructions and to build new connections between common ingredients of the world because applying these principles will lead you towards your aha moments of creativity we all have a chance to make a creative contribution to society over the course of our lifetime and if going on a walk for just 10 to 15 minutes each day can bring us closer towards those aha moments towards our ideas worth spreading well then what are we waiting for [Applause] you

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