Benefits of Creative Thinking for the Logically Inclined
It’s doubtful you could find a person who hasn’t lamented their supposed lack of creativity at least a couple of times in their life. There is definite merit to the claim that people who are inclined toward logic would stand to benefit greatly if a creative spark were to be introduced into their line of thought every once in a while, but before we get to said benefits, we really need to get to the bottom of this whole “creative thinking” versus “logical thinking” issue. It is a debate that’s been raging for countless years and the scientific breakthroughs which have allowed us to glean information about the inner workings of the brain have only increased its intensity.
The Science Aspect
It is a well-known fact of neuroscience that different parts of the brain handle different mental functions and that the left hemisphere of our brain is more engaged when we perform tasks that have to do with logic, such as analyzing patterns, while the right hemisphere sees increased activity when we engage in creative pursuits, such as trying to imagine a thing that doesn’t actually exist (fun fact: the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice versa). This knowledge has, in turn, brought about the theory that certain tasks could be accomplished using only one hemisphere of the brain, and even though this notion was scientifically disproven way back in the mid-1980s(1), the division between “left-sided” and “right-sided” people has persisted to this day.
Because the two hemispheres of our brain are connected by the corpus callosum, which enables constant communication between the two, it would be physically impossible for a process not to be influenced by both of them, as far as a healthy individual is concerned (we mention the last part because surgically severing the corpus callosum is a known, albeit extreme and last-resort, treatment for certain types of epilepsy). What this means for us is that we can (finally) get to the heart of the matter, because we have explained why creative thinking and logical thinking are not as opposed as many may assume.
A Bit of Both
Everything we set out to do is invariably influenced by both our creative traits and our logical tendencies - simply put, neither is creativity completely illogical nor is logic totally devoid of creativity. This does not mean that people aren’t more heavily inclined toward one end of the spectrum (most are), it rather means that creative and logical thinking are probably best described as two sides of the same coin. Consequently, bringing out the creative propensities in logic-minded people is simply a matter of harnessing the abilities they already possess but don’t know how to utilize to their full extent.
One reason so many people struggle to tap into their ability to use creative thinking, or outright dismiss themselves as being incurably uncreative, is because we are subconsciously indoctrinated to do so by our education system which heavily favors and rewards logic. Lesson plans, testing, grading – they are all geared toward analytical thinking and severely limit a student’s opportunity to be truly creative. Because this bias toward the logical is based, at least in part, on nurture rather than nature, the first step in bringing out a person’s untapped creativity would be to have that person try and break free from the mindset imposed by the education system – once you realize that not everything can be quantified as being correct or incorrect and that you don’t always have to follow one path because it’s the only right way, you’ll find yourself in the position to start enjoying the benefits of creative thinking even in circumstances which would seem to call for logic.
Let’s get down to the brass tacks – in everyday surroundings, both logic and creativity are used to solve the problems you’re currently facing. It doesn’t matter if it’s for work, school, or a hobby, you just need to get stuff done. By incorporating creative thinking into their mindset, even the most logically inclined person can enjoy some of the following boons:
- Maximizing Brain Power
Because of the way our brain is hardwired, we are supposed to employ both creative and logical thinking in order to get the best possible results. By failing to take advantage of the full set of skills that nature has placed at our disposal when dealing with a problem, which we are undoubtedly doing whenever we disregard our creative side, we are effectively handicapping ourselves and making things more difficult than they need to be.
Let us give you a very concrete example of this. Visual thinking is a skill firmly belonging to the creative camp, however research(2) has shown a direct correlation between advanced visualization skills and success at scientific subjects in school. Not only did the students with a natural affinity for visual imaging excel in scientific areas, even students with subpar visualization skills have shown a noted improvement in science classes, including the results of standardized testing, after they’d been given drawing lessons in order to counteract this.
- Creating Fresh Ideas
One of the cornerstones of logic is analyzing already existing patterns, while creative thinking relies on coming up with new concepts – by boosting one’s creativity, the number of new ideas that can be generated will rise accordingly.
- Repurposing Old Ideas
Aside from creating new concepts, creative thinking is also characterized by the ability to find new uses for old ideas. There’s no need to spend time, effort, or money coming up with an entirely new concept when an old one can get the job done just as well with a little bit of tweaking.
- Improving Relations
Creative thinking forces you to look at things from different perspectives. In doing so, you’ll be able to get a better grasp of other people’s viewpoints, helping you relate to them and promoting understanding.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the benefits of creative thinking, you might be wondering how to start taking advantage of them. Boosting one’s creativity is a lifelong process, but if you need a good place to start, you could try out the “Six Thinking Hats”(3) technique – if nothing else, it will force you to change up your usual way of tackling a problem.
The issue of creativity and logic should not be an either/or scenario – for optimal results, they need to work in unison. No matter how logical we may consider ourselves to be, if we want to maximize our potential, if we want to make the most out of our abilities, or simply if we want to do more, we need to embrace and foster our creative side. As Einstein himself put it, "The greatest scientists are artists as well.”(4)