Being as passionate as I am for creative thinking, - a few years ago I started to notice how moments of insight (or “eureka”) were occurring within me. And the more I understand them, the more I seek these moments as they are extremely energizing.
Illustration by Beni McDonald
Showers are one of my favorite moments. Having the stream of water running down my head and my face seems to work fabulously for me to come up with solutions to problems or to have the most creative concepts and ideas.
They are either associated with things I have been focusing on during the day or sometimes completely unrelated projects or things that I would like to do. They seem to come from nowhere as I start to relax.
According to world renowned expert Dr. Mark Jung-Beeman, the moments of insight take place 300 milliseconds after a burst of gamma activity in the brain (gamma activity is the brain waves firing furiously at 40 HZ).
However, one important thing about this is that for this gamma activity to occur the brain needs to go into its alpha state a few seconds before (brain waves at 9 – 14 HZ). How do we achieve this alpha state? When we get to relax, meditate and calm ourselves down.
Have you ever wondered why, when your boss demands a new idea, it never happens? When we are busy or confronted by someone, our beta waves (15 – 30 HZ) are in full motion.
The best thing to generate new ideas or solutions to issues is to take a break, do something totally different and give our brains a break. And then!!! “Eureka”, the idea comes into our minds as if touched by a magic wand.
Every time I take a ferry trip to go to the city in Sydney I sit outside and as the wind hits my face my body indulges itself in a meditative state. My brain then seems to work out what the next new good idea might be for work or what I should be doing on my next trip and so on.. It seems that water or the proximity to water is what helps me to generate ideas the most.
There are also other moments when ideas come to mind very easily and one of them is early in the morning as soon as you wake up. If you are in a rush, you miss them, so it is a good idea to set the alarm clock a few minutes earlier before your “get up” time and stay in bed to benefit from this relaxed state that may fire some solutions or ideas for what is coming up in your day.
I also get lots of insight if I am working with other creative people. When people let go the need for control and are able to collaborate and share, bounce ideas from each other, with no boundaries and allowing for the ridicule and the fun - then these quantum leaps of creativity are likely to occur.
In the office, seating arrangements that are informal and casual are wonderful in comparison to people sitting around a table. Chairs and anything that gets in between people can become a barrier and people seem to use their left side of the brain more than the right side which is where ideas are generated the most.
Bean bags, couches, lying on the floor, the use of colour, posters, cards and music are also useful tools to encourage creative thinking in training situations.
Having the opportunity and allowing the space and the time to be creative makes us more engaged and flexible. Observe your best moments of insight and foster them in others to create a better working environment and a more innovative culture.
About the Artist
Beni McDonald was born in Manly, Sydney in 1968. His involvement in the local skateboarding scene led to a lifelong interest in art and music that was part of that culture in the late 80’s, illustrating flyers and record covers for local, underground bands. He apprenticed as a tattooist in Melbourne in the early 90’s and worked in Australia and overseas as a custom tattoo artist for the next fifteen years. He now works as an illustrator and graphic designer in a number of fields, including a skate and street wear company with his son.