Creative Thinking Exercises - How to Think Out of the Box ?

The Water Building designed by Spanish architect Orlando de Urrutia
The Water Building designed by Spanish architect Orlando de Urrutia

Have you ever wondered why creative thinking or thinking out of the box is such a challenging task to some people or to you? Would you believe that it is your brains that create the obstacle to creative thinking? Think of a house and immediately you brain recalls something with a roof, square and flat walls, windows and doors. These are standard properties forming the picture of a house in your memory. Now, if you are ask to think of a creative house, you brain will stop you from making a house with oval-shaped walls with no doors or windows since this is not the usual picture you have in mind. You brain makes it hard for you to deviate from the picture or pattern you have fixed in your mind.

To be a creative thinker, you need to break away from usual patterns stored in your memory. You need to think out of the box! Creative people often ask some good questions that naturally help them to break away from the norm. For easier reminder, think of the acronym CREATE for six types of creative thinking when you want to do a little creative problem solving.

Combine : Can I combine something in a new way ?

Reverse : Can I reverse some parts or processes here ?

Eliminate : Can I eliminate or remove some part or process ?

Alternative : Can I use alternative methods or materials ?

Twist : Can I twist things around a bit ?

Extend : Can I extend, elaborate or add something ?

The Attitude

Creative thinkers possess the attitude: flexible, positive, the ability to accept change and newness, the willingness to play with ideas and possibilities, the habit of appreciating the good, while looking for ways to improve it. We are brought up into accepting only limited number of permitted or normal things, like stir-fried noodles. The creative person realizes that there are other possibilities, like adding grounded peanuts or thinly sliced fruits above the conventional stir-fried noodles. Therefore, creative thinkers possess the FIRST characteristics below:

Fantasize : They are visual people hence they often fantasize over unreal ideas.

Incubate : They often incubate or think about an idea for a long time.

Risks : They are positive thinker, they take risks to try, despite what other people think.

Sensitive : They are sensitive and appreciate the creativity of nature and humans while looking for ways to improve them.

Trigger : They trigger and generate new or different idea about things by being playful and having fun with the ideas.

Exercise to Improve Creative Thinking

“Normal” behaviour is expected at work, since it is the easiest and most efficient way to get things done. As a result, our creative self is often put aside, getting rusty from under utilization. Then one day, a manager appears and demands that we do some brainstorming to come up with an innovative solution. Ouch!

Like un-used muscles, creativity improves with exercise, so here are some brainstorming exercises to help you to warm-up those under-utilized creative brain cells:

1. Creative Consequences

Let’s fantasize. Try this “If… then” exercise with “CREATE” wherever possible, it will give you a chance to dream a little. Not everyone will have the same answers and there is no right answer; that is the nature of creativity test.

  • If I “combine” Italian food with Chinese food, then I will come out with …………

And they would taste …………

  • If aeroplane is “eliminated” in the world, then ……………..

And they would mean ……………

  • If I were given the chance to “twist” the story of “Eclipse”, then ………

And that will turn out to be ………………

2. Reverse Creative Thinking

Creative thinkers often try an opposite idea to what most people would do. They do reverse thinking which loosens the fixed patterns stored in the brain. Try these:

  • List three reasons why a person might be drawing UPSIDE DOWN
  • List three ways of drinking water WITHOUT holding the glass with your hands
  • List three things that you WOULD NOT find in a Tesco or WalMart Supermarket
  • List three ways in which a bicycle and a dog are the SAME

3. Creative Problem Solving

Creative Problem Solving demands an answer that is abnormal or unpredictable. Use CREATE to help you.

  • Think of three or more good ideas to decorate three scoops of ice-cream in order to make it more interesting to people.
  • Think of three ways to make a chair cost a million dollar.
  • Think of three ways to remove a mouse stuck in a 3 foot pipe without injuring or killing the mouse or destroying the pipe.

4. Analyzing the Creativity of Designs

Creative people are sensitive to the creativity around them. They wonder why things are made the way they are. Everything around us was designed for a purpose or function. The more you carefully observe things and ask questions on their particular colour, shape, size, material, and their movement, the more sensitive to creativity you will be.

  • Why can’t dog stand and walk with two feet?
  • Why do human walk with two feet instead of four like other animals?
  • Why don’t we make papaya or banana juice?
  • Why is the sea salty?
  • Why did God create only Adam and Eve, and not more?
  • Why does human create robots to replace human?

Books on Teaching Your Child To Think :

When is the best time to do some creative thinking?

Creative thinking is right brain dominant activity; hence the brain must be relaxed for creative thinking to take place without much effort. Right brain is active when you just wake up from sleep, or dozing off, when you are taking the morning shower, or while you are listening to soothing music. Focus on your problem at these moments, and you will be more likely to come out with creative solutions.

Have fun being creative!


The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are owned by Ingenira who hereby asserts her copyright on the material. Permission must be granted by the author in writing prior to copy or republish this article in print or online. However, please feel free to copy the first paragraph with a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Ingenira

Comments 125 comments

llk 10 months ago

it's all greek to me, i can't get it what it's going to say...

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marknarusson 2 years ago from Birmingham, UK

Some unique ideas and tips which I will certainly test. I tend to find that when I have a creative problem to address, taking a long break or going for a walk really helps. Sometimes you need to be bored or daydream in order to get some of your best ideas to come through.

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paiarais 2 years ago from Bogia

A wonderfully constructed hub that contains very informative ideas that shed light on clouded minds.

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Ingenira 3 years ago Author

Thanks, OMGirdle. Hope this article can give her some ideas.

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OMGirdle 3 years ago from United States

I read your hub as if I wasn't a creative person and saw the advantages of your questions. My daughter struggles with creativity, especially her writing (something she did not inherit from me). I'm going to send her a link to your hub. Good writing!

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Ingenira 3 years ago Author

Thanks, DFW.

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DFW TEEN VOICE 3 years ago from Richardson, Texas

Good Information!Enjoyed reading your Hub!Success!

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Ingenira 5 years ago Author

thank you, nifwlseirff, your kind comment is very much appreciated.

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nifwlseirff 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Great hub, beautifully written, and a gorgeous photo of the Water building! Good ideas to get past creativity blocks. Thanks!

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Ingenira 5 years ago Author

thanks, gmwilliams. Glad to see you here.

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gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

To Ingenira: Great hub. I was always a proponent for thinking unconventionally and outside the box.

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Ingenira 5 years ago Author

thanks so much, anidae for your humble comment. :) Glad that you find this article useful.

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anidae 5 years ago from Tennessee

Voted up, awesome, and bookmarked. This is just what I was needing in my quest to learn as much as I can about creative thinking and writing. I am a life long learner and I am studying creative writing now. Thank you for an well written and informative hub.

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Ingenira 5 years ago Author

Thank you for stopping by and create the link. I will have a look at your hub and link it here too.

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jtyler 5 years ago

Nice hub. This works perfectly with my creativity blocks hub. I'll link here. Thanks.

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Ingenira 5 years ago Author

Thank you Allison, for your wonderful comment. Yes, if people are not so corrective, and if people are not so concerned about being corrected, we will have much more creative people in this world.

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AllisonSchnur 5 years ago from Orlando

Great article! Being creative is definitely a job in itself. I think a lot of people are afraid of creativity BECAUSE you are supposed to think outside the norm. It's a risk to go against conventional thinking, but with risk come rewards!

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Ingenira 5 years ago Author

kims3003, sorry, I missed out your comment. I thought I'd come back to reply your comment later, but I forgot. ;P Bad part of me.

Appreciate your sincere comment, Kims. :)

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thank you for your wonderful comment, CBSElearners. :)

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CBSElearners 6 years ago

This was a very interesting hub! It had some great ideas on loosening up the conformity in our minds to certain rules and excellent creative exercises as well. Good work and a good read any day!:)

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

TheListLady, thank you again for another lovely and funny comment. It'd be interesting to talk to you in person. :)

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thank you, kims3003 for your lovely comment.

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TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

Oooh these are great tips and I am bookmarking because...well because this serves as a great pep talk that I need to have handy.

It's so easy to get bogged down. Sometimes I wonder - what ever happened to...well, me.

Thanks a million and rated up. Yay!

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Ben for the nice comment. :)

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kims3003 6 years ago

This is very true. Nicely thought out and well written hub. Nice writing style too!

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Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Very good Ingenira, this article will be of great aid to many people. I meet so many folks who think creativity is magic when in fact it is in all of us, but most people, as you allude to, don't wish to take the risk that puts them in a vulnerable spot.



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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, DrumsAcousticMuse, the Drum Expert ! What you said is so true. Often, companies emphasize on efficiency and high productivity, and creativity often comes second in place.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, loveta931. Glad to see you here. Thanks for your comment.

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DrumsAcousticMuse 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Wow, you clearly know a lot about the subject.

I think creative thinking often takes a second place to efficient thinking in modern societies.

And its sad because shortsighted solutions often come out of such thinking, and therefore the "efficiency" of those thoughts is actually wasted when the problem has to be solved again.

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loveta931 6 years ago

Excellent list! I've learned more from this forum in about 2 days than I have at any other forum community.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

chinemeremz, thank you for the very nice comment. I am flattered, and I feel like flying, and it is truly very nice while it lasted. I have read your hubs, and you are an excellent writer yourself. Thanks for leading me to find you. :)

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chinemeremz 6 years ago

Hi ingenira, it looks like the prefix of your user name is ingenuity, cos that is what your hubs and personality spells of. From what I inferred from your hubs and other creative writings on this particular topic: goes to show what creative minds have been able to achieve over the ages. Now you asked an upside down question, "how can one drink water from a glass without holding it?" now looking at this question explains the rationale behind the drinking straw. Thanks for this wonderful hub, cos I feel inspired and I feel like flying. It was really nice while it lasted.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

yes, wwriter, your comment is insightful.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thebellrecordsch, the picture was not for real, it's just a design only.

wwriter 6 years ago

To think out of the box, we first need to get rid of the box. Perhaps the science of thinking is the most neglected of sciences.

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thebellrecordsche 6 years ago

Is that picture real? wow I love it! Anyways, I think I am creative deep inside and I don't exercise at all... maybe that's why I haven't unleash my creativity yet haha! Thanks for the great hub!

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, KenWu for your compliment. I think your hubs speak well on the power of the mind.

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KenWu 6 years ago from Malaysia

This is an awesome write up. I believe the world is lack of creativity and which make every body competes with each other.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Wayne.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, xenium. Welcome to hubpages, and I hope you like it here.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks again, Dr. Betty for your visit and leaving some flattering comment. :)

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, myster!ous. Your name caught my attention. Welcome to hubpages, and I hope you like it here.

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Wayne Orvisburg 6 years ago

This is good stuff! Thanks!

Betty Johansen 6 years ago

I'm so impressed with this article. I expect to refer back to it repeatedly when I need some help getting outside of the dratted box I live it!

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, PHP Coding Man Dan.

PHP Coding Man Dan 6 years ago

This is a great, short manual for creative thinking. It is an overwhelming task for many people.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, for the visit, Led Tube.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, lender. Hope it helps, and we get to read more of your beauty and health hubs.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, kazemaru, I know Silva method and mind-mapping too. What a coincident !

Led Tube 6 years ago

Thanks.It's great.

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lender3212000 6 years ago from Beverly Hills, CA

Great suggestions! I'm going to use this as a starting point the next time I run into a case of writer's block.

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kazemaru2 6 years ago from usa

Interesting hub from a fellow lover of korean culture. This reminds me of the work of Dr silva and the innate intelligence of all humans. What works for me is mindmapping various topics to synthesize something new.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, freehans.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

kephrira, I can't agree with you more. Thanks for reading.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

medrastic, thanks. You have very cool hubs too, short and straight to the point.

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freehans 6 years ago from Philippines

Nice to know about the exercise to improve creative thinking.

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kephrira 6 years ago from Birmingham

Great ideas. I think one good way to 'think outside the box' is to make an effort not to get bogged down in details and to take a broader view first, and worry about details later.

Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Aaron. The trick is ... don't try too hard.

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AaronAdamic 6 years ago from New York

Awesome hub! It's surely very difficult to be creative sometimes. Thanks.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Dink96, I am looking forward to your creative hubs. Have fun writing them ! :)

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Hi Sudeep, glad this hub helps. I have read your hub on How To Write Love Messages... wow, those are mesmerizing !

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, sweetgirl. You have been a member for 3 years. Hope your studies and family are well.

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Dink96 6 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

Love this! I'm going to use these techniques with not only my writing but my work as well and see if I can CREATE a different result! Very interesting hub. Thanks.

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Kevin Lam 6 years ago

Wow this is a great hub! It is very informative and makes me think about about how human brain works.

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sudeep13582 6 years ago from Howrah

this post will really help me, as I am a graphic and web designer.. I really used to need fresh and unique designs... everyday..

thanks for it... I voted it up...

here is one of my hub ... have a look at it

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sweetgirl 6 years ago from irbid

Nice photo

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Yes, truly, cRiMsOnNcLoVeR313. Welcome to Hubpages !

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, anjalichugh. I have read your hubs on healing, they were amazing too.

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cRiMsOnNcLoVeR313 6 years ago

creative thinking can take one a long way in life...being creative can bring success, it can solve problems/crimes, and most importantly it is a way to express yourself. Thank God for the right of expression!!

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anjalichugh 6 years ago from New York

I'm so glad I stumbled on this hub. You've done an amazing job here, especially, with those acronyms. Great! I guess we need a lot of peace and quiet in and around us for permitting the brain to travel freely without any inhibitions, reservations and time constraints. Voted thumbs up.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, candy2die4. Welcome to hubpages. :)

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candy2die4 6 years ago

This was very interesting. I liked all your idea's. I haven't started my hub yet but thinking about it.

Thanks for sharing.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Trinsick, I have not heard of "flow". What you described does sound familiar to me, but it goes with another name, which I cannot recall now. It's basically entering the alpha state of mind (right brain dominant), where we gain new ideas to to our problems.

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Trinsick 6 years ago from Cali

Have you heard of this concept of "flow" it's that state of mind you get into when your focused on an idea that time passes by quickly and you unaware of your surroundings. That's what I try to get into as i come up with ideas.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Sockyee, thanks for your interesting comment. What you said makes sense for some people, like my son. He is more creative on his own, than under supervision.

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sockyee 6 years ago from Singapore, Malaysia

Just about today I attended a course about team building and one of the approach taught by the instructor is that...In order to think out of the box, you have to be out of the box for it to be effective. Make sense right?

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flinsura 6 years ago

Nice hub, it really creates awareness , very interesting! Keep it up!

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, Patti Ann. You wrote fantastic hubs yourself.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, sriparna. I'd love meet more teachers like you. The children will definitely have so much fun in your class.

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Patti Ann 6 years ago from Florida

Wow - fantastic hub! Very helpful information - rated this one up!!

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sriparna 6 years ago from New Delhi

Excellent hub, Ingenira! It was lovely to read the hub on the theme of my interest - you have put important info together so well. As a teacher I know how important it is to make children think differently, even adults should keep themselves engaged in creative thinking to keep their brain cells active and rejuvenated. Thanks for sharing.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, tdarby.

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tdarby 6 years ago

Great stuff here! Thanks.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, davidkaluge for reading and leaving a thought-provoking question. It never came to me that religious believe is the concepts work of creative. And I believe that religion is all people, regardless of who they are.

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davidkaluge 6 years ago

I think this is a good subject. The positive and negative changes in the world today is a result of creative reasoning. Man usually do not welcome usual things especially when religious believe is attacked to it. Is the religious concepts work of creative? We may not be sure but like I wrote my book, 'it is time we truly know why Jesus wept...' and in most of my hub, I think it is a shame for man to be divided by their religion just as they were once divided by the color of their skin. Some people say my reason is usual. What do you say?

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thank you, richtwf, for your insightful comment.

I am a believer of what you said.

richtwf profile image

richtwf 6 years ago

Great subject matter - thinking - particularly creative thinking! One of the subjects that I'm very passionate about learning.

Einstein once said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Yes we do need to know facts but more importantly is the imagination in which lies our creativity. People need to believe that they have great creative abilities and to use their right brain more but it seems like after we leave school many of us allow that creative part of our brain to be sadly underused/unused.

Like our bodies if we don't flex those creative muscles within our right brain then we essentially are using half the potential of our cranial ability, so thanks for sharing this hub and highlighting the importance of creative thought and how we can improve it. Great hub!

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, Scribenet.

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Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Great Hub! I voted up and useful and will bookmark this one!

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

So true, rui paiva. I couldn't agree more with you.

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rui paiva 6 years ago from Somewhere in the world

Excellent article. Thinking creatively is to think and act on the unexpected, let the brain think in unexpected solutions. Do not reject ideas even if they seem ridiculous.Thanks.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, hubmu for reading and left a comment. Have fun with the exercises.

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hubmu 6 years ago from BN

great idea, i will try this exercise from now on.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Haha.. epigramman, you are so naturally creative !

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epigramman 6 years ago

..well I think if anyone thinks outside this box it must be the epigramman - and by the way where is the box???

xenium profile image

xenium 6 years ago

out standing hub..

creative thinking one of the main part of your brain..

that point where mostly peoples brain are stop for thinking..

your exercise are good.. i try it..

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

parkersarah8415, yes, I can't agree with you more. Doing something creative is actually doing something fun !!

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

MRWED, I am glad I caught your attention. :)

30% creative is better than none. Gotta be positive to be creative !

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

izettl, thank you. I'd love to read what you will write about creativity, you are one of the most creative person I have ever known, from your hub writing. There is really no fixed approach or exercise for creativity since it is about being "creative" and "thinking out of the box", so there is only endless methods to it.

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parkersarah8415 6 years ago from USA

Thinking out of the box is more important than you think because otherwise you will find yourself deeply depressed from work or lifestyle as a whole one sunny day.

MRWED 6 years ago

This hub caught my attention and caused me to read it in full details. You have a nice idea! I was enjoying answering the questions you have here. It made me realized I am just 30 % creative.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest

Ingenira~ I was thinking of doing a hub about this topic but you've done an outstanding job. After I gave it more thought, I realized I do better on my own too. I used to use creative exercises, but it didn't feel right if it wasn't my own creativity. What helps me most with creative writing is doing another type of creative project- working with clay or drawing, then I do better writing.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Sage Williams, thanks so much for your comment. I am glad you like it.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Money Glitch, thanks for your comment. Some people need examples of exercise like above to trigger their creativity, others (like you) do better on your own. :)

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, Carmela for reading. You sounded like a really creative dance instructor !

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

ReuVera, I can't agree with you more.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Neil Sperling, after reading your hubs, I don't think that you have creativity problem at all. :)

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks, eli grey for your insightful comment.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

thanks so much, Tony. :)

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tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Very, very useful, interesting and well-presented Hub. Thanks.

Love and peace


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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, kathryn1000.

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Sage Williams 6 years ago

Ingeneria - I absolutely love this hub. You bring new meaning to the word creativity. I love your acronyms. You have described my daughter to a T. I will be forwarding this for her to read. Awesome job, voted up and am bookmarking this one for sure I will want to come back and read again.

Great job,


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kathryn1000 6 years ago from London


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Oh those wonderful creative thinking exercises that use to make my head hurt while I was attending grad school. I do better just sitting still and allowing my thoughts to occur naturally. Thanks for sharing it is important for one to perform exercises for increasing creativity.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, prasetio30 and Nell Rose. Yes, creativity can be killed or discouraged by negativity. Positive people in positive environment will have better chances to continue to be creative.

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Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, as I always say, if you can't go through it go around it! I do try and do this when I have time, but as you say it is so easy to just stay in the same mindset, great ideas here, rated up cheers nell

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prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I believe this is useful for us. Creativity always made the brain work and it also good to maintain our brain. Good information. Thanks for share with us.

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m920621m 6 years ago from UK

Thanks for the great hub. I got some ideas for my hubs just by reading yours :)

I think that people are afraid of creative thinking because of the way they were nurtured. In the past, creative thinking wasn't really necessary. However, nowadays things have changed. But the majority of people haven't. And what is even worse is that they often discourage other people, especially young ones, from thinking differently. So don't try to shut up your kids even if they're talking nonsense :D

By the way, beautiful picture up there.

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BenjaminB 6 years ago

One of my favorite exercises in writing class in high school long ago was taking a short story and rewriting the ending with an alternate one.Everyone has had those moments where they envisioned something totally different happening at the end of a book or story only to be let down that it fell flat in reality.Great Hub Ingenira,good ideas.

Carmela 6 years ago

Great hub.Creativity storms our brain, you are right.

As a dance teacher, I was asked to creat a new dance using a very popular song for performance on an open stage . The result brought applause and surprise to the audience.

Again you are correct,I did the creative dance when I woke up early in the morning.

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ReuVera 6 years ago from USA

Great hub. I enjoyed reading it! Voted up.

The more we give "raw food" to our brain, the more our brain "cooks it". It is amazing how sometimes our brain just comes up with an idea, but actually, this idea was "cooking" there for a while.

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Neil Sperling 6 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

Excellent Hub and well organized. I have never had trouble thinking outside the box and being creative. Acting outside the box is also been no problem but getting others to follow is a challenge. LOL

Love your use of acronyms.

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eli grey 6 years ago from Philadelphia, Pa

Yeah, people do seem to be afraid to express creative ideas. I hardly recall a time in the past two years when I worked the same dead end job where I had a decent creative thought. Being in an enviroment that demands creativity is good for the brain at least once a week. It has to be something away from home and work. Join a club where everyone must contibute ideas on a matter. Even when doing the routine things, find something to spruce it up or make it more inviting.

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Ingenira 6 years ago Author

Thanks, Lilly. Yes, creativity is such a hard things to do for some people that instead of being a fun things to do, it stresses them.

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LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Very good Hub. I thing creativity scares some people. I loved the photo at the top of the page as well. Thanks.

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