I've decided to join up two ideas I had for blog posts into one here. But for ease it will be loosely split into two sections.
Both ideas are to do with perception and seeing things differently, which is why I thought they could work together.
I'll start with a general overview what perception actually is.
According to google it's 'the way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted.'
This leaves a huge margin for error.
For example, we only see a fraction of visible light so what our eyes tell us is only part of the picture.
And our other senses are equally flawed, so you could say that we're running a simulation of the world on a relatively low-resolution setting.
When you consider that environmental and experiential factors can also warp our perception, it's easy to come to the conculsion that our perception of the world can be nothing more than a 'best guess'.
That being said, this is to the advantage of the creative mind.
Creativity is the ability to use your imagination to look at things in NEW WAYS, from different angles and with novel perspectives.
So, I want to talk about two ways to alter or improve the way you perceive things that will hopefully help you to think more creatively.
1. Seeing Like an Artist
I was sketching some ideas for a logo this morning and started to experiment with a 'childlike' quality of line.
Proportions didn't need to be perfect, lines could be shaky or drawn several times... It was the playful effect I was going for.
But it got me thinking about how kids draw, and more importantly how they SEE.
When you become better at drawing, you are actually getting better at looking.
The ability to represent what is seen by the eyes onto a page is mostly a mental activity. The skill of the hand pales in comparison to what is going on in the brain.
You can practice better seeing at any moment of the day... it's actually a very mindful activity.
Pick an object from in front of you.
It could be anything. A pen, a cup, even your iPhone - Whatever, it really doesn't matter.
Hold it in your hands and really look at it.
Think of how it was made. How many sides it has. What materials it is made of.
How does each material look and feel?
Why were they chosen for the task at hand?
Is it light or heavy? Smooth or rough? Big or small?
Try to notice something about it that you've never seen before.
While writing this I have been doing the exercise with an empty can of Coke Zero that was sat on my desk.
I became fascinated with the ring pull. How precisely engineered it is and how perfectly it fulfils its task.
A secondary function of the ring pull is that when the can is open, you can rotate it around 180 degrees and use the hole to keep a straw in place.
Maybe this was designed into it, maybe it was a creative adaptation.
I think the second is more likely.
What this achieves is a focus on detail.
It shows the mind a way of thinking and seeing that will help you to understand what is in front of you more clearly.
A clearer understanding of the world around you will lead to your brain making stronger and more interesting connections.
And this is what creativity is.
This is an awesom habit to form, and you can practice it whenever you're are bored.
So instead of jumping on social media. Why not try some mindful observation. Pick up an object and try to truly see it for what it is. It's a great exercise for the mind.
2. Sweet Mary Jane
By this I clearly mean Marijuana.
Other than a slight problem with the legality of its acquisition, this plant has been used by humans for spiritual, artistic, medicinal and recreational purposes for over two thousand years.
Only since the early 20th Century has there been strict legal restrictions on its use.
But I won't go into that.
Writers, artists and musicians have produced thought-provoking and innovative work whilst citing smoking marijuana as a key influence.
People like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Carl Sagan and Bruce Lee have been open about how it has helped them in their lives and careers.
When you smoke marijuana the THC from the herb binds to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. This has the effect of over-stimulatating neurons in certain parts of our brain.
For some people this can result in a magnification of thoughts, imagination and perception.
Colours may seem more vivid, music can sound richer and warmer.
It can be particularly great for 'free association' exercises where you can ponder a subject or idea and write down all the words that come to mind.
It can feel like the filter has been removed and patterns or connections that you haven't noticed before pop into view.
Listening to poetic lyrics or watching interesting lectures on YouTube can be an awe-inspiring experience.
For all its negative press, I feel like I want to stand up for the positives it brings to many peoples' lives.
It's not for everyone, but used sensibly, with moderation, it can be a tool that can be used very much like caffeine.
The key is education. Learn about what you are using and the reasons why. If you use it for the rigt reasons it can have an amazing impact on your life.
Now, I am not promoting or advocating the use of marijuana.
It's a truly personal decision and will affect everybody differently.
There are upsides and downsides to consider. Make sure you are aware of this IF you decide to give it a try.
Do your research and know what you're putting into your body.
Marijuana can be used as a tool, but also as a crutch.
It's vital that using any drug (caffeine and alcohol included) is serving you and not having a negative impact on your life.