Creative thinking is the ability to break out of conventional patterns of ideation and to invent new ways of solving problems or creating something using new techniques.

In this article we will examine what exactly this type of thinking consists of, as well as reviewing what its main differences are from conventional thinking. Finally, we will give a list of tips on how to enhance it in everyday life.

What is creative thinking?

As mentioned above, creative thinking refers to the way information is processed to find original solutions to new challenges that arise in life.

People with this kind of thinking are not limited to conventional alternatives, they are explorers. In addition, creative thinking is put to the test every time we have the need to solve a situation not previously experienced by us.

Generally, we have to use the conventional lines of reasoning, which anyone would resort to in a similar situation, which is known as the protocol to follow. On the other hand, there is an unimaginable range of new alternatives that we rarely explore, perhaps because they are too tied to conventional solutions, possibly because they work for us and involve less mental effort.

But the reality is that the solutions we know well and use over and over again are not always advantageous , and that is when people get caught up in apparently unsolvable problems, just because they are not used to using creative thinking on a daily basis.

For example: what do we do if our vehicle crashes in the middle of the road and we don’t have what we need to repair the breakdown? Do we then let hours go by without doing anything, just because we don’t have the necessary tools? Or are we able to look for a creative solution to the problem?

Another way to capture creative thinking is through artistic expression; people who have a facility for creating art possess a type of skill that favors the ability to think creatively.

How does it differ from conventional thinking?

In the following lines we will see exactly how creative thinking differs from conventional or pragmatic thinking.

1. It does not depend on the relationship between one thing and another

The main difference between creative thinking and logical-pragmatic thinking is that the former does not depend on the linear relationships that exist between two or more objects in order to establish a comparison or idea.

When thinking is creative it is based more on abstract principles, which at first sight would not make much sense but which despite not following the conventional patterns of logic give rise to new meanings.

2. Involves more visualization

One of the main characteristics of creative thinking is that requires a greater capacity for visualization than structured thinking .

When we look for new alternatives to some (creative) situation we imagine the possible scenarios we will get, while with logical and structured thinking this is usually not so necessary, taking into account that the subject already knows what is going to happen if he does things in the classical way.

3. Psychological exhaustion

Constantly employing creative resources results in significant wear and tear , unlike conventional or usual resources, which are based on custom.

4. Constant learning process

Creative thinking implies being in a constant learning process . Creativity comes from the knowledge that the person has acquired and internalized; it is from them that the original ideas are born, focused on the needs of the moment.

Tips for enhancing this type of cognitive process

Creative thinking begins to appear in the early stages of development; therefore the youngest must be stimulated to encourage them to be creative from childhood . The ideal is to provide them with alternatives so that they can freely express their individual capacities without feeling inhibited or embarrassed.

It is important that the education of young people is always balanced between the academic and the extracurricular, giving equal importance to all the activities that the students carry out, inside and outside the classrooms. In this way, young people grow up with greater confidence in their personal abilities.

The following list contains some useful tips to further develop creative thinking in youth and adults.

1. Encourage the habit of reading

Reading is a source of knowledge and new ideas that are incorporated into the reader’s mind. The reader will always have a place to draw on for creative solutions or to create his or her own content based on what he or she has read before.

2. Live new experiences

Getting out of the comfort zone is indispensable ; those who stay locked into the routine do not reach their creative potential. The mind works like a parachute, for it to work it must be opened. The best way is to discover new experiences.

3. Write down your ideas

Creativity sometimes happens when we least expect it ; in the queue at the bank or the supermarket some great ideas usually come to mind. It is advisable to write them down on your mobile phone or on a sheet of paper so that you can study them better later.

4. Find things you are passionate about

When we find activities that generate enjoyment, we can be sure that our creative resources will come out during the execution of these practices. Passion and creativity go hand in hand, and they come together so that we can achieve unique things when we enjoy doing something we like.

Bibliographic references:

  • Amabile, T. M. and Pratt, M. G. (2016). The dynamic componential model of creativity and innovation in organizations: Making progress, making meaning. Research in Organizational Behavior. 36: 157 – 183.
  • Marina, J. A. (1993). Theory of Creative Intelligence. Barcelona: Anagrama.