If you’re in the business of ideas, whether that means you’re a creative who designs concepts, an entrepreneur who creates solutions to problems, or something else altogether, the quality of your thinking quite literally dictates your level of success.
If that’s you, there are the obvious things you should find time for:
However, there’s so much more you can do to sharpen your mind and level-up your thinking. And, if you’re serious about what you’re doing, you owe it to yourself to realize the incredible potential of your greatest tool: the mind.
Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.
– Barbara Januszkiewicz
So then, how do you take your mind to the next level? There are a lot of things you can do, and, fortunately, most of them are a lot of fun — aside from just being a valuable use of your time:
1. Immerse yourself in opposing viewpoints
First, take some time to immerse yourself in opposing viewpoints. It really doesn’t matter what it is, any perspective that is opposite to your own, will challenge you and help open your mind up a bit more.
This can be either an excruciating exercise or an incredibly enlightening one, depending on what attitude you take going into it. There are various levels of it:
- Good: Read blog posts, watch movies, listen to podcasts, or consume some other form of media made by people with differing viewpoints from yours
- Better: Visit a group, conference, or find ways to have real conversations with people who have differing views from yours
In the same way that the more we learn about a person, the more compassionate we become towards them, the more you learn about different opinions, the more open-minded and better educated you’ll become. This can help you in countless far-reaching ways.
At least once a week, my kids and I get into a conversation about something new that interests them. My oldest is obsessed with animals, and with the prehistoric era, so we often talk about an animal.
So, I open up YouTube with our Fire T.V. and show them a video from National Geographic or some other reputable source to help them learn about said animal first-hand, from experts, and in a comprehensive way.
I do this because I want to encourage their interest in learning about new things. I could just give the information I have and then just say, “I don’t know,” or, “We should get a book on it sometime,” but then the moment would pass and that would condition them not to pursue that curiosity.
But by doing this, they become conditioned to pursue their curiosity and see that it can be rewarded with interesting and fun new knowledge of a thing. And you can do the same in your own life.
The next time you find yourself thinking about something new and wanting to know more about it, take some time to look up a resource on it immediately, and reward that curiosity with new knowledge. It’s easier than ever to do that.
It’s easy to underestimate what new knowledge can do to the brain, helping us make new connections and sparking new ideas, even ones that at first seem completely unrelated to anything important in your life.
3. Read on diverse, mind-opening subjects
When was the last time you read a book on a totally new subject? I’d be willing to bet it’s been quite a while. Whether that’s a book on a part of the world and its current events, a new non-fiction book, or a journal about the latest scientific discoveries, the more diverse the material you read, the more open your mind will be.
Regularly doing this creates a hotbed for new, creative ideas you might otherwise never have thought about, and it levels up your thinking big time. You’re learning about something completely new, which helps open the mind to new and different ideas, even helping you see something you already knew about in a new light.
4. Take time to be with your thoughts
My final point is less about acquiring new knowledge or challenging the mind and more about just learning to sit with what is going on within it.
Most people, I find, are scared of silence. They get fidgety and uncomfortable when there’s no background noise in their life, and will go to great lengths to drown out their own thoughts. The thing is, if you want to level-up your thinking, you can’t hide from silence.
Even if it’s just an hour a week, take time to regularly just sit outside or go for a run, and let your mind wander wherever it will go. Let silence take over so that you can be with your mind and explore what’s going on from within. By doing so, you’ll be able to better organize your thoughts, find clarity, and formulate your best ideas.