How to Discover Clever Ideas Thanks to Diversity

Travel Makes You Think Differently

“Picasso, Handel, Hemingway and Stravinsky all created their most well-regarded work while living in foreign countries.” Tendayi Viki writes for Forbes. Multicultural experiences helps others become more flexible with their ideas. Multicultural experiences helps you become more flexible with their ideas. Experiments linked understanding meanings of diverse cultural behaviors with the ability to connect ideas. Experiments connect the understanding different cultural behaviors with your ability to connect ideas.

Try this: Travel without traveling. Try something new that’s outside of your normal environment like a class or museum. Look at photos and imagine how different people might think. Talk to new people. Talk to those you know about new subjects. I’ve found many new places within my own neighborhood just by walking in different directions.

How other culture’s perspectives help you create

Exposure to other cultures has instant benefit Studying abroad and living abroad boost creative thinking. Priming individuals with information about cultural icons allowed participants to generate more creative ideas.

Children who grow up in multicultural families had more unusual ideas. The exact reason for all of this is still not completely explained by studies. Theories point toward thinking more flexibly due to exposure toward different cultural perspectives.

Try this: Place yourself in situations that require thinking about different cultural perspectives. Consider taking foreign language lessons. Listen to podcasts that expose you to different ways of life. Volunteer with classes that force you to interact with different cultures. Try looking at local workshops and try something absolutely new.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

You are an ambassador of creativity

If you know or care about something, you’re in a position of authority and power.

When feeling smart or passionate, folks often do think that gives them a pass to be a strong-willed. I’m sure I’ve done it too.

When someone talks to me about design, art, or music, I have to choose to be happy that they’re engaging with me on a topic that I love. I’m best when I’m super encouraging about their quest for knowledge on the subject. Talk about an effort over outcomes.

If not, they’ll hate that subject. They’ll hate how I deal with it. Long before they’re interested in the details that I’m super right about, they’re going to choose avoidance. Many people will be quick internalize this idea that they’re not creative.

Use your powers for good. When you’re in authority, you’re more obligated to be responsible. Authority is one of the most common social stressors.

It’s no fun when we come at it as show off or expect others to be impressed. (Unless you do it in a way that’s mocking that character.) Lots of folks are completely turned off from being creative become of these types of interactions.

This is why I often dodge talking about their people’s jobs. That thing you do all day isn’t obvious. And pent up passion can quickly become aggressive if not approached positively.

Same with sports. What’s not my kind of fun: Guessing about the future pretend you absolutely know what will happen based on bias for a team. Constant one-upmanship about sporty knowledge. I don’t generally find history fun as a subject and there’s all this history. I see the appeal of storytelling and drama in sports. The whole culture around it is not fun. I find a lot of politics to be sporty and team based more than reasoning.

Various online tests say that authority isn’t a stress trigger that I identify with. I’m pretty comfortable switching to a novice stance. I see myself as an eternal novice.

Most every subject is more vast than any one human can grasp.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Your Environment Changes Your Imagination

How’s your office space? I’m in an exposed area surrounded by people. While I like these people, I don’t feel I have any sense of physical security. As an introvert, it’s also difficult to work  in the presence of so many others. And as the article says, it’s hard to tune out since they work on dissimilar tasks. I loved working in the newsroom. It was easy to see how their work tied into mine.

We’re more creative in the dark.

Dimmer light and darkness helps creative performance. Darkness inspires feelings of freedom and encourages riskier behavior. Researchers published six studies on the effect of light. Four of the experiments linked darkness and dim illumination to more creative outcomes. The final two tests found connections between darkness and increased exploration. Other ways of encouraging feelings of freedom helped keep participants creative.

That matches my exploration style. I’m definitely a night owl. It’s not just the darkness. Night time feels more free from me. Generally I have less planned and less obligations later in the evenings. So that sparks the feelings of being able to do anything possible with my time.  Researchers also found that imagining that you’re in the dark has similar results.

“Freedom from constraints: Darkness and dim illumination promote creativity” explains the details in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in 2013.

High ceilings spark the imagination.

“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly. They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics.”
Joan Meyers-Levy, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management (Science Daily)

Simply moving to a room with higher ceilings helps you think outside of the box. Meyers-Levy and Rui (Juliet) Zhu discuss in “The Influence of Ceiling Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing That People Use”

Privacy helps us think in new ways.

I’ve written before about how private spaces help many of us in our creative processes. We’re more likely to take risks when we mistakes aren’t public. Increased noise levels and physical health concerns come into play in shared spaces as well. We can take action to create space by taking walks and meditation,

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Bowie State University offering a Hip-Hop Minor Program

One of the things I loved the culture and curriculum at Bowie State. For Fine and Performing Arts majors, we had to take courses on the history of people of color, women, subcultures. For a creative, surrounding yourself with as many different perspectives as possible. I attended Bowie State in the early 2000s. Imagine a time when Wikipedia was brand new. Information on minority history was difficult to find anywhere on the internet.

The new Hip-Hop Minor offered at Bowie State will be a great opportunity to expand on the school’s current academic focus:

“Three new courses developed by Bowie State faculty will explore hip-hop’s roots in African and African-American culture and its societal impact, while developing projects that span multiple academic disciplines. Melchishua designed a hip-hop studio course focused on visual arts design. Renowned hip-hop scholar, musician and author Dr. William Smith created a course exploring black contemporary music and its impact on society. Helen Hayes Award-nominated playwright, director and actor Greg Morrison will teach a hip-hop theater course he developed to introduce students a unique form of musical theater.”

When I attended, professors knew their students, our goals, and dreams. Especially in Fine and Performing Arts where they’re full time professors as well as being artists in their own right. They were proud to be there. I had professors of various races and backgrounds. It’s hard to explain such a welcoming culture other than to say it’s common among HBCUs:

“In 2015, a Gallup poll was released showing students at HBCUs had a higher sense of well-being in five areas (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical) compared to students who did not attend HBCUs.”

“HBCU grads were substantially more likely to say that they had professors who cared about them and mentors who helped them pursue their goals”

The program emphasizes learning a lot of history in context. We’d learn abuut Bach, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Monet. We’d study Cab Calloway, Zora Neal Hurston, and Henry Ossawa Tanner in the same breath.

There’s whole history of minority artists that is mostly ignored in our culture. I think that’s one of the biggest things I learned. That it’s possible that I’m not going to be surrounded by images of successful people like me in popular culture and history. You still gotta go out there and do your thing.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Silence fosters creativity

Silence is more important than you think.

The study of silence first happened by accident. Researched compared silence at first as a baseline to other sounds. (As reported by Rebecca Bear for Lifehack.org.)

Physician Luciano Bernardi explored silence in his research on music. When inserting randomly stretches of silence, the pauses induced a relaxing effect. Even compared to even the most relaxing music. Observing sensory processing at the University of Oregon in 2010, Michael Wehr found that both sound and silence signal change to neurons. When sound or silence is sustained it’s viewed by the brain as inactive.

Taking space from connecting with others may help encourage creative thought. Meditation including silence benefits critical thinking as argued to the paper “Reflectivity, Creativity, and the Space for Silence”, by Jane Dawson of St Francis Xavier University:

“The role of creative expression, as with the role of critical reflection, is to uncover them, and help us understand them more deeply. And creativity, like thought, takes quiet time and a sense of space to encounter it with our full attention.”

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.