What do you do when you need to solve a problem creatively? Me, I go for a walk, preferably in the woods. It’s about as far away from the desk and computer as possible, and somehow getting outside of the box that is my office helps me to think outside of the metaphorical box as well. Maybe it’s the fresh air, maybe it’s the exercise. Or maybe, it’s putting my physical head in a different (head)space that helps me to think differently.
Psychologists are finding that being outside, being an outsider, or even just being exposed to the straight-up strange can help you think weirder, that is, more creatively. That artists, authors, and other hyper-creative folks are often a little bit odd is almost a cliche. Think of the artists who did their best work while under the influence of drugs, mental illness, or drastic dislocations.
The good news is that you might not have to go so far. Psychologists are able to measure increases in creative problem solving simply by exposing people to weirdness. And you don’t have to go on a magic-mushroom trip to get there either. In one study, this was playing in an upside-down VR world before answering a questionnaire, for instance. Ray Wilson meant it tongue-in-cheek when he suggested that building a silly synthesizer would help you think, but who’s laughing now that science is backing him up?
So if you find yourself, as I do, stuck inside the same four walls, make sure that you break out of the box from time to time. Expose your brain to weird, for your own creativity’s sake. Make some time for a completely wacky project. And of course, read more Hackaday! (We’ve got weird.)