None of us are free from unhelpful thinking patterns, often we don't even know we're thinking them because they're subconscious. We act out conscious thoughts partly based on what our subconscious mind has already decided. Don't worry, you're not your thoughts. It's a reflection of you in the water of your biology. But the point remains, we learn unhelpful ways of thinking through all kinds of examples and lessons which have what I like to call 'shady' wisdom. It's just not true, despite how good it feels. So with these little nuggets of fool's gold in our heads adding their rationale to our subconscious patterns of thought, it's no wonder we sometimes get stuck.
Perhaps the first thing that stifles progress and creativity is thinking we already know the answers. If it's creative then it's novel and interesting and none of us have any answers. Acting like we are the intellectual authority over a thing when we don't fully understand it is something that often gets in the way. It takes courage to put on the humility hat and accept general ignorance. Maybe because the word ignorant is often used as a negative connotation, we don't want to admit it. Ignoring something deliberately is of course truly ignorant and a negative behaviour, we reserve it for things we dislike or make us uncomfortable. But not knowing much isn't ignorant, not knowing much and then saying that it's a bad idea simply because you personally can't see how it will work is far more ignorant. Avoid doing this.
Being put off by not knowing is equally as show-stopping. The design thinking side of operations wants to imitate everything proven to work. In one way this ensures success and it works to a degree. When creativity and innovation are involved though, things become less regimented. And we need these things if we are to improve on the systems and technologies we have at this time. The world isn't perfect so we are in need of creative, innovative, and sometimes unclear ideas. Not forgetting the sacrifice to test each one, however when we think of the whole planet and what's at stake, it's always worth it.
So it's risky, and we naturally want to blunt the blades in case we slip. We want to eliminate all risk. It's okay to think like this, but if the blade isn't sharp enough, it won't cut the thing we want it to. There has to be an element of risk, and then skilled operations to carry out the function. It's always risky when we put time, money, and emotional sweat into a project. If it doesn't work out for us then it's a horrible and desperate feeling. We wonder what we did wrong, and in this we learn how to improve. We can't be scared of this.
Treating creativity as an external and distant function prevents the genuinely good ideas from ever seeing their potential. By making it seem that there's a clear difference between the regular people and those who are creative gives a culture of us and them which results in negative comparisons.
That's because many of us are naturally critical and love to find the fault in things, this is actually really bad for creativity. Yes, find the faults and be critical, but don't enjoy it so that you forget to see the good in something first. An appraisal begins with positive news, it acknowledges everything right and then it highlights possible flaws with tact. Putting off an inventor by hurting their feelings could have cost us the next antidote.
Some people love to feel above others and won't acknowledge something from a lower level that challenges their authority. If a person feels challenged or intimidated by another's good idea then they'll not push it. They'll sweep it under the carpet and maybe claim it was their own. This is not how we progress and it's another matter of being humble enough to recognise when another person is equally as valuable and worth listening to.
Finally, we have to recognise that even if we are on the top of the ladder and enjoy the rewards that it brings, there are people working really hard on the bottom of that same ladder. The only way we will encourage progress and innovation that works and is implemented is to make sure that those on the bottom can feel able to take the steps up. We can sometimes remove some of the rungs between the bottom and the top so it's impossible to climb. It's good to keep inspirational people in our circle and they can come from any rung of that ladder. Put those pieces back in if you haven't already. Anyone caught cheating can be given a healthy kick back down to the bottom.
The imagination is a powerful tool. Tibetan visualisation meditations have been a key feature in Buddhist culture for thousands of years. Magic too was often made of using mental powers to improve favour from spiritual forces, was this a psychological and natural phenomenon? Perhaps so. There are people who are good at imagining, and some who are not. Those who are not particularly imaginative are free from all kinds of unhelpful things, mental health issues may not present themselves in the same way and they're less likely to be distracted or even deceived by their own eyes. For those who have vivid imaginations, apart from all the side effects of having little control of it, if we learn to control it then it becomes a focusable part of our consciousness.
An experiment was recently conducted which looked at brain waves with an MRI Scanner. Groups of people were asked to tell the researchers the names of people they like and people they dislike. They were also asked to name a place they considered emotionally neutral, as in they had no particular feelings either way for the situation. Participants were then asked to imagine themselves in the building with the person they liked. This was while their brains were being monitored. The brains showed a type of learning that associated the positive effects of the liked person with the neutral place. Even though they weren't actually there, in the brain where the biology of our thinking happens, it didn't matter.
The particular area of the brain involved is called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This area is associated with memory of person and place. This joining of function perhaps makes it easier for the mind to learn emotional relevance across these two things. Somehow, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is able to weigh up positive and negative elements about people and places and allow us to feel good or bad about them. This can be manipulated by us in our imaginations, so the experiment proves. The benefits of this are wide-reaching. I'm sure you can imagine a few.
Think about people who have trauma, they can revisit the experience in their mind with someone they really like. Someone who helps them feel safe perhaps. Maybe I could take Arnie with me to pay a visit to those nasty kids at school or maybe Carol Vorderman for when my good ideas were laughed at. Let's see where that takes us! Some of us have more serious things to call trauma, for instance there are plenty of people alive today who have experience war first hand. This no doubt will leave mental scars, the loss, the fear, the anger, the grief, all of it can be revisited with a favourite person.
I'm really excited about this finding, and I hope you are too.
Via Science Daily
Regular readers of Alternative Fruit will remember the article a little while ago in which we shared six great podcasts. Podcast Picks for People Who Think got a warm reception, thanks to everyone who read it, shared it, or simply liked it anyway. You all make this worthwhile.
Inspiring people takes all kinds of techniques and avenues. We find it in our everyday lives, inspiration can come from anything when we look at it in a certain way. Often our mind focuses on something when we are in need of inspiration, information, or just something to pass the time. We could just look out the window, but a lot of people work really hard to deliver good content to us.
When someone makes content for a good reason, it's not because they're trying to convince others of their opinions or because they're trying to trick people into buying their products. Good media is made because the creators and the people who fund it want to enrich the world with their works. The creators want to make the world a better place for their job, just like we all want to make the place where we work a better place.
Here are some more brilliant podcasts that are made with you in mind, for pleasure and for learning.
The History Of Philosophy Without Any Gaps
This highly informative and fun to listen to podcast is given life by philosophy departments in Germany and elsewhere. Because of them, we get to listen to ad free content every week. Peter Adamson is the host, he's an expert on philosophy and its history. He breaks down key features in the history of the subject and explains them in layman's terms. This then helps us to understand psychology, ethics, religion, and a whole number of other ideas. Although the podcast is well underway with scores of episodes already recorded, each one is available for free. Start from the beginning and maybe you'll catch up and be forced to wait like the rest of us.
This time we visit a podcast funded by its listeners. Via Patreon, happy subscribers offer what they can to help this team of experts pay the bills. This podcast is a weekly discussion on the theme of astronomy. It doesn't require expert knowledge to enjoy it, a simple enthusiasm for space will be enough. Star Trek and Star Wars fans alike will all enjoy this real life exploration of the cosmos. Various key principles in the field of astronomy are talked about and explained, allowing anyone to pick up the subject for themselves.
Sci-Fi fans unite and subscribe to this regular fiction storytelling podcast. It's a real pick and mix of authors and themes, all on the science fiction shelf. Sometimes the stories are a quarter of an hour, sometimes an hour, every time they choose an exciting and intriguing journey. Take a trip into the realms of fantasy and future on a regular basis. Maybe Gaze of Robot, Gaze of Bird by Eric Schwitzgebel sounds interesting, or perhaps The Thing With The Helmets by Emily Skaftun is more inviting? What-ever you choose, there'll be more.
For a variety of intellectual documentary type broadcasts, tune into Radiolab. This podcast presents themed episodes which have content with all kinds of influences. Each time it creates a thinking environment where our assumptions and hopes are tested against actual knowledge. It can be quite disturbing sometimes, and other times just funny. It's quite deep for a radio show and the presenters are able to keep everything intellectual and calm headed. Always with an element of psychology, with a humanitarian and centralist outlook, the Radiolab team bring us cutting edge ideas and thoughts.
The Naked Scientists
Mentioned last time in conjunction with 5 Live Science, The Naked Scientists have their own show. Rather than sharing the stage with the other 5 Live Science crew, they have the stage all to themselves. The content is geared up a notch from the BBC edition. Their ideas and information go a little bit more into depth. This podcast is great for people who enjoy learning about and listening to science.
It would be unfair to not mention the BBC in this list, they work hard to produce a large variety of podcasts. This Radio Four podcast invites us to mull over some of the deeper questions life has to offer. They cover most things eventually, and it's always surprising to see what they come up with next. Finding interesting things for regulars to write home about is a large task! Luckily, like Alternative Fruit, the BBC are good at that kind of thing. You'll not be disappointed if you like using your brain.
There you have it, hopefully you'll get hours of listening pleasure from each of these offerings.
Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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