I have the greatest admiration for those who are resourceful and creative. They have a cleverness I seem to lack. Somehow they see things in a different way than the rest of us.
You know the type. The woman who instantly knows how to turn an old pair of blue jeans into a backpack. Or the guy who takes scrap materials from all over to make an aquaponics unit.
So much of what we face as preppers calls for problem solving skills. You can spot problems easily enough. But how do you solve them when you don’t seem to have that creative instinct? Is there a way to gain much needed insights?
Maybe you’re stumped by the everyday problem of how to make a casserole to stretch what’s in the pantry for just a couple more meals. Or maybe it’s cutting expenses so there’s not always too much month at the end of the money.
Perhaps it’s about making better use of limited space for your survival garden. Or it could be figuring how and where to bug out to when things start popping.
The bad news is that there are no magic formulas. And let’s admit it, not all of us can be geniuses. But I’ve come across a book that lays out some helpful guidance for those of us who want and need to be more than ordinary. What you and I need is a kind of prepper creativity.
The book is Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer.
It would take too long to recap how Procter and Gamble, Bob Dylan, Pixar and others have managed to make the most of creativity. But I can share a few notes and principles I gleaned from my reading of Lehrer’s book. And I hope we can each apply them to our benefit as preppers.
- Trying to force an insight can actually prevent an insight. Creative insights come when we’re in a relaxed and positive mood, without being analytical.
- Get the daily down time Gay Levy and George Ure talk about in 11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life.
- While you and I might do well while concentrating hard and focusing on a particular problem, we may not have many creative insights. Sometimes it’s best to be distracted and stop looking for the answer.
- Focusing can actually make us fixate on the wrong solution. The needed insight comes when we’ve stopped looking for it. Let the right hemisphere of your brain take over.
- Don’t be afraid to make wild connections between things that seem unrelated. Many inventions and discoveries have come about this way. Putting this into practice is called conceptual blending.
- Daydream. Your brain will be amazingly busy making connections.
- Inhibiting impulses stifles creativity.
- Ask plenty of questions. Don’t be afraid to be embarrassed. Don’t be afraid to leave the safety of your own expertise. It’s OK to display ignorance.
- Get away from everything. Travel.
- Become an outsider. Our thoughts are often shackled by the familiar. Forget yourself and what you think you know. See the project you’re working on through someone else’s eyes.
- Network and collaborate with others.
- Brainstorm with others. Engage in debate and constructive criticism. Pick apart ideas. Stimulate thinking to fix mistakes and find solutions to problems.
- Hang around smart people. Don’t let your digital connections with people online override the contacts you have with real people in the flesh.
- Don’t be discouraged by failure.
- Get inspiration from the work of others.
- Insights may come in a flash, but they may not come quickly. It takes time for the refining of thoughts and ideas.
- Persevere. Don’t give up when you’ve got a problem to solve.
- Let go. Be spontaneous. Don’t worry about perfection.
If you haven’t already figured it out, for most of us, prepping calls for a new mindset–a new way of thinking. This is true whether we’re dealing with everyday situations or are forced by circumstances into making a radical move.
There’s no way I can do justice to Jonah Lehrer’s book. I highly recommend you get Imagine: How Creativity Works by clicking on its title wherever you see it linked in this post.
Time to cultivate your creativity.