Monthly Archives: December 2014

Why do we keep getting the same ideas?

The huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but teh wrod as a wlohe

This sentence of jumbled words hopefully caught your attention, but you probably worked out what it was meant to say pretty quickly.

That our minds can do this shows us not only how powerful they are but also why we often keep getting the same ideas. When you change your patterns of thinking, your brain makes new connections that give new things to focus on and so different ways to makes sense of a challenge or problem.

When information enters the mind, it “self-organises” into patterns. This is good, except that those patterns can easily become ruts. When new information then flows in, it does so within existing grooves of thinking. This is the way the brain works – it interprets new information and completes the information for you, a bit like predictive texting. Even though the letters of the words above were mixed up, the first letter of each word being correct was enough for you to clear up the mess and make sense of it.

Unfortunately, this can act as a drag on creativity. When we try and sit down and will ourselves to think of new ideas or solutions, our mind usually keeps on going down the same old ruts and grooves. This kind of thinking helps us perform repetitive tasks, like driving a car; those same old patterns and routines gradually accumulate until they significantly reduce our awareness of other possibilities than the way we already think.
Creativity comes when we shake up our patterns of thinking in a different direction to create new avenues of thought. These new patterns and connections give us different ways to focus our attention. Creative thinking in essence combines dissimilar subjects which “jump-starts” our thinking patterns and provide us with a mix of alternatives.

Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.