Your brain possesses infinite creativity, yet most of us do not ask enough of our brains. Unless our brains are forced to find an answer to a new question right away, they are lazy.
The brain uses only previously acquired information to meet the tasks of daily life. But when you ask your brain for something new, you put it into high gear. Your brain seeks out new information and links ideas and possibilities together in a complex web of informational elements that are the foundation of creativity and innovation.
Asking your brain to engage in new tasks is the key to boosting its performance.
Think about some of the greatest inventions developed by humans: the airplane, the computer, the technology that made it possible to go to the moon. All of these began with simple questions: “Is it possible to do this? How can I do it?”
Once you ask your brain questions, this marvelous organ begins searching for sources of answers. Your awareness expands as your brain seeks data and ideas through endless pathways. Everything in your world becomes a possible source of answers to your questions. Your brain not only takes in information related to your question, but also remembers chance encounters with information and life experiences — so one inquiry might later spawn a dozen investigations, into all sorts of subjects, from cosmology to cabernet wine.
When you ask your brain hard questions, and trust it to bring you the answers, you expand your mental world. Your brain responds to the demands the way your body does to a workout session. Every bit of information picked up by our brains is just like exercise, together helping us reach a little bit further beyond the visible horizon.
Have you ever wondered why humans seem so obsessed with discovery? Why throughout the centuries have we sailed dangerous seas, trekked through pathless jungles, and risked our lives descending into lightless caverns where no one has gone before?
It’s because we are wired to search and discover the new. Our brains demand it. To keep them truly alive, we must demand much of them. Trying new and different activities unifies the disparate centers of your brain, restoring the flow of energy and renewing communication.
The process allows you to let go of the self that depended on old routines, and empowers you to create a new identity based on today — your new pursuits, relationships, and passions. Imagine being able to shed your outdated sense of self and to let go of the unwanted influences that other people and unfortunate events have left on your life. You become free to decide what parts of your new life will define you, fully experiencing your emotions without fear.
True creativity comes from an integrated brain that establishes new, robust connections between the parts of your brain dealing with cognition, emotion, and vital functions, and crosstalk between the two hemispheres of your brain. Instead of a brain fragmented by traumas and preconceived ideas, you will find your lifetime of experiences and knowledge meshing like the parts of a wonderful machine, carrying you to new levels of insight.
This article was first published in the print edition of Brain World Magazine.