When it comes to thinking, we can learn a lot from our children. Dr Jinan Harith Darwish thinks it’s high time we drew and wrote our way out of sticky situations and dropped convention.
As clichéd as the phrase is, ‘thinking outside the box’ will stand you in good stead in life. It implies tackling problems in untraditional, innovative ways; conceptualising problems differently and understanding your position in relation to a situation you never thought of before.
Thinking outside the box eliminates the mundane, the forced perspective and the danger of repeatedly facing an issue in the same manner. Although you might think you know how to deal with a certain situation, you may be going about it in a way that stunts creative possibilities and sees you returning to the same problem time and time again.
Make an effort to push your thinking up to and beyond its limit – the aptitude you foster may come in handy the next time you face a situation that ‘everybody knows’ how to solve. And this is where the little tots come in handy.
Children draw their way out of situations. They can express themselves best with a rainbow of crayons and a free mind. Take note of their approach and sketch the problem out – even if it is a method usually reserved for children. Drawing a picture allows you to visualise a problem and engage with a type of thinking that isn’t normally exercised, and gives you a creative boost that you might not have expected.
Another way, perhaps more adult-appropriate, of problem solving is writing poetry. Poetry neatly bridges the rational, left side of the brain with the creative right side. Though it may feel nonsensical (getting comfortable with feeling nonsensical might be another way to think outside the box) write a poem about the problem you’re trying to solve. Your poem doesn’t necessarily have to provide a solution – the concept is to deflect your thinking away from your brain’s logic and into a more creative part of the brain, where it can be mulled over in a non-rational way. Don’t forget, no one has to ever see your poem!
Children are inherently more creative before society takes a hold and moulds their brains to think like everyone else. Before this process is underway, children think and speak with an oblivion to what is considered the ‘done way’ – which is so useful. Ask a child how they might tackle a problem: I guarantee it will put a refreshing smile on you face. If a child isn’t around, shake off your adult sensibilities and think like a child: how might you tackle an issue so that a child would nod happily and understand? It’s not so much a task in being a child but an attempt to try to jog your thinking down the road less travelled.
You won’t always find a ‘box’ to shove your problems into, so it’s essential to jump over those parameters and go against the grain of the social norm. And at other times you’ll find a creative breakthrough staring at you in the face – it happens a lot more than your brain registers.