The key to a more creative life? Get comfy with chaos

The key to a more creative life? Get comfy with chaos

An introduction to The Creative Nudge by co-author, Kevin Chesters

‘The Creative Nudge’ is a new book that sets out to unleash the creativity within us all.

Creativity is a way of looking at the world in whatever field you are in. Even a big muddy field. There’s creativity in every industry. Every walk of life. The key to success in life or in business is applying original and different thinking. But we don’t always do it. Why? Because a combination of biology (simple human traits) and sociology (societal conventions) stops us from embracing the new and the different, in all areas of life.

This book is designed to overcome our natural programming and the straight jacket of society, so we can release our inner creative potential. It’s not hard. It just takes a few small nudges.

One of the next steps in getting creative is to get comfortable with chaos.

You must let chaos in if you want to get anywhere different. 

No amount of logic is ever going to get you anywhere magical. In fact, Nietzsche put it best when he said: ‘One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Big leaps don’t come from following the well-trodden path. 

There is no formula for original thinking. You cannot – whatever some management consultant might tell you – industrialise or process creativity. It just doesn’t work that way. As my old boss Dan Wieden once said: “You’ve just gotta get lost in the fog.”

Chaos won’t just enter your life. You must invite it in.

Now, humans are rubbish at chaos. Our brains—almost literally—spin out when faced with it. We can’t concentrate, we can’t operate. We must have some form of structure because otherwise we get distracted and discombobulated. 

The behavioural science behind it is complex but starts with something called the 'Uncertainty Effect'. 

Daniel Kahneman explores this in “Thinking Fast & Slow”. When certainty isn’t present for us, we enter a stage of cognitive dissonance, where the brain can’t focus or concentrate properly. It craves order.

This need for order is the reason we tell ourselves stories to make sense of the world. It is called Apophenia and explains things like the emergence of a Sun, Sea or Moon Gods when we didn’t have the science to explain such phenomena. It equally explains most conspiracy theories because no one can quite believe that ‘shit just happens’. It also explains a principle called Pareidolia. This is the reason we see Jesus’ face in toast, or faces in EVERYTHING, or animals in rock formations. It is our evolutionary brains trying to put patterns into life’s random things.

But actually, the most recent research tells us that we’re more creative as a species when surrounded by chaos. 

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that people at messy desks actually came up with more and better ideas than those who operated in a tidy environment. 

Mess works, chaos works. 

Received wisdom would have you believe that chaos is destructive. 

Science would tell you otherwise.

A few nudges.

So, to overcome everything that your brain and society will stick in the way of embracing chaos you’re going to need some help. A few nudges. We need to get comfy with chaos. And here are a few tricks to help you do this:

Stick A Fork In It: Go to your cutlery drawer. Mix up all your knives, forks and spoons. For a bit your brain will struggle with it, but it’s a simple everyday way to get your brain comfy with a bit of chaos. And if you want to get braver, eat with the first two utensils you pull out.

Sock Hop: This week, for one week, do not pair your socks. Take them all fresh from the laundry and stick them in the drawer in one big pile. Wear the first two socks that you pick out for a week. You’ll know, your brain will know, no one else will.

Make a Chaos Corner: You don’t have to get messy in all areas of your life or home or office. Just those ones where you’ll be expecting yourself to come up with new ideas. Make a chaos corner. Visit whenever you want to get creative. Make a mess.

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