Did you ever think about buying something, like a type of car, then find that you’re seeing it everywhere? Whereas before you thought about buying it, you barely noticed it? That’s our brain’s spam filter at work, adjusting what information we let in. We see what we focus on and filter out the rest. It’s called Inattentional Blindness.
Some of you may be familiar with the experiment where you have to count the number of times people in white shirts pass the basketball https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_ZfY, I won’t spoil it for you in case you haven’t seen it, but it highlights how we miss things right in front of our eyes. (The clip is worth watching – it might surprise you!).
Our brain’s spam filters are necessary of course – we can’t possibly absorb and store every bit of information we encounter in life. But these filters can get in the way of creativity. A new idea occurs when we make new connections between different bits of information. If we filter out those different bits of information, the connections can’t be made.
Luckily, we can train our brain to open up those filters. For example, we can train it to be more aware of sensory information. If you want to try this out, here’s a quick exercise …
From where you are right now, take a really good look at what’s around you. What do you see that you haven’t noticed before? What do you hear? What can you smell? How does the air/your clothes/your chair feel against your skin? Take a deep breath in, and a deep exhale. …….. Did you notice anything new?
By making an effort to be more open, you will notice more things … and foster your creativity.