Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Are we Capable of being Creative in an Auto Mode?

“Automatic' and 'creative' by their definitions, do not sit comfortably well with each other; but the subconscious capacity can sometimes produce creative ideas for disparate tasks, though.

The human progress is all based on our thinking, learning and changing capabilities. We tend to learn things in a series of small steps. Each step is quite simple and the link between steps is not a smooth one. Gradually this evens itself out as we learn whatever it is we are learning. Those initial steps were as they were because we use conscious thinking. When a human interactive task becomes automated, the crux of using our subconscious mind is to appreciate how different it is from our conscious mind. Even though the conscious mind (deliberate thoughts) and subconscious mind (auto mode) exist in the same body, they have vastly different characteristics. One of the interesting debates would be: Are we capable of being creative in an auto mode?

“Automatic' and 'creative' by their definitions, do not sit comfortably well with each other. The conscious mind and subconscious mind cannot be separated. And, if they do not work together, the results can be harmful. Our conscious and subconscious thinking work together. That is nature. Our 'real' thinking happens subconsciously so we are not aware of it happening. However, we become aware of its consequences for they appear as conscious thinking. We specialize in working out the way of doing things that involve the minimum cognitive effort. That involves setting up automatic sequences (schemas) that we can invoke to get repetitive tasks accomplished. It really doesn't matter how complex those tasks are, it matters only that they are performed regularly and repetitively. Subconscious thinking is far more efficient than conscious thinking. The latter is a precursor to communicating just some ideas. However, that repetitive, schematic kind of process is the very antithesis of creativity because, by definition, we are not looking for alternative ways of doing things.

During the repetitive tasks, the subconscious capacity can sometimes produce creative ideas for disparate tasks, though. Subconscious thinking is often quick, and efficient. Using that form of thinking, people perform tasks without being aware of what has been done. To be complex as they may be, we have learned them in sufficient detail and with sufficient repetition that we do not need much cognitive effort to perform them. So it is the thinking pattern you have been thought about so many times, and it is ingrained into the auto mode. We have disconnected from our creative interaction with it. We have defaulted to mind and muscle memory. So the good thing about it is that it brings thinking efficiency, but the bad thing is that it could enforce bias or other negative thought patterns. In addition, to be interactively creative within a task is to suppress any automation or disembodiment, to become immersive with it. That is not to say that during this repetitive task that our subconscious capacity cannot or will not produce creative ideas for other related, or even disparate tasks. Not at all, in fact, the more mindless the task is, the higher probability of subconscious disruption would be. In fact, the process of 'preloading' the subconscious capacity with a task (requiring a creative solution) and then deliberately distracting the conscious mind is quite common in creative industries.

The "AHA" moment often comes from the “unexpected moment.” The purposeful manipulation of the stages of 'preparation,' 'incubation,' and 'illumination' is a widespread protocol for creative output among professionals. One of the things that quite dramatically improve the information transfer rate is doing a mindless task, which may go some way to explaining why 'AHA moments' come when you are, for instance, going for a walk. It is not clear whether the task has to be physical (like taking the walk), or whether it could be mental, such as the repetition of the mantra during meditation. Either way, it is clear that creativity, in general, can be enhanced by performing a task, with the subject of the creative effort having nothing to do with the task. It is just leaving things to subconscious thinking.

Conscious thinking is primary to ready thoughts for communication, often in language. Although the schematic thinking with the repetitive process is the antithesis of creativity. Our subconscious mind can do “multitasking.” It has the thinking capacity to produce creative ideas for the disparate tasks or even brings those precious “Aha moments.”  There exists a wealth of empirical and anecdotal evidence to support the understanding that one may be consciously engaged in one task, only to have the subconscious offer up into conscious thought, proposals and solutions to unrelated tasks. So embrace both your conscious and subconscious thinking in the right way.


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