Another component to becoming solution-oriented is developing the ability to think expansively, that is, thinking outside the box, thinking creatively, using your imagination. This requires waking up your brain. How often do you notice that you are doing something on auto-pilot, not really paying attention? How often do you do things in the same routine, such as driving to work, doing the dishes or making meals? When our brains are so sure of the routine, they become glazed over. The fact is, we go through life with our brains half asleep.
You can start waking up your brain in very simple ways. Change your route to work or the way you go through your grocery store. These simple changes shake up your routine and make your brain more attentive. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Walk down a street and find three things you’ve never noticed before. For example, a while ago, after I’d lived in the same house for 10 years, I decided to look for three new things on my block. Right away, I noticed that my neighbor, Joe, had a beautiful stained glass window in the front of his house. The next time I saw Joe I asked when he’d put it in. “What are you talking about?” Joe said, looking at me like I was crazy. It turned out that window had been there for 30 years, but I had never noticed it. By going out looking for new things, I had “seen” something that had been there all along!
Becoming solution-oriented means generating new ways of perceiving a problem or situation by looking at more aspects of it and by bringing your mental creativity into play. Mental creativity has three components: originality, fluency and flexibility.
Originality: Generating ideas without censoring them. Writing your ideas down and considering them, no matter how strange, implausible or wacky they may seem, is worthwhile. This is because at the margins of ideas that are unworkable or impractical, you may identify something really worth pursuing.
Fluency:Producing numerous ideas in a set amount of time. Coming up with ideas at a rapid pace, for a certain period of time, can help spark new ideas. When your brain is working quickly and consistently, it gets fired up and the creative energy starts to flow.
Flexibility: Being willing to not only think outside the box, but to live outside the box as well. When you are willing to try something new, you will experience zestfulness accompanied by feelings of excitement, purpose and passion. These emotions combine to take you on an upward spiral and generate even more new thoughts and attitudes.
All of these characteristics are tapped when one engages in “brainstorming.” Brainstorming is the term that describes the process of generating any and all ideas about a subject or situation. It means getting all of your ideas about a possible solution out on the table, without censorship, and only considering them later on. In brainstorming, the goal is to let your ideas flow without stopping to judge their merits or practicality. Brainstorming taps into all three factors of mental creativity, and helps address underlying issues as well as surface problems.
When brainstorming, it is important to tap into your abundance attitude. By accepting this perspective, you are free to generate all the available possibilities and move beyond your habitual belief systems. Accepting limitations, making judgments and censoring ideas in a brainstorming exercise are really just examples of thinking inside the box and will keep you from coming up with new ideas. When you hear yourself say “but…” stop right there. Ignore the objection you were about to make, whether it was about time, money, skills or some other perceived lack, and move back to thinking of ideas, however implausible, expensive or time-consuming. In brainstorming, all options are possible and must be listed.
Becoming solution-oriented requires you to rev up your positive energy flow. Here are some ideas that will foster a perspective of infinite possibilities while also fostering your creativity.Experimenting with new behaviors helps shift you to an upward spiral, where you can become energized by your experiences. You may be so busy and over-scheduled in your life that it can be hard to think about changing your routine, but the change may be just the lift your spirits need. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something different! Eat your next meal with your non-dominant hand. Change the order of your morning and evening grooming. Go to a movie at an unusual time. Any of these behaviors will shake up your routine and wake up your brain.
Develop your mental creativity by watching children at play. It is evident that their ability to be resourceful and creative comes naturally. You have that same innate inventiveness, but it may have become dampened over time. Rev up your mental creativity by solving puzzles, playing charades or PictionaryÒ, creating “life stories” for strangers you see, playing games with children, or writing a story or play. By nurturing your imagination, it will be ready to serve you when you need to tap into your originality.
Finally, make sure youapproach new possibilities with a sense of curiosity. Curiosity is your ally because it helps you remain open and flexible. Ask questions. Be inquisitive. Talk to people. By engaging your inner explorer, you’re ensuring you will think beyond your routine thoughts into uncharted territory.