We often think through two channels — creative and analytical — albeit some of us are endowed with the incredulous talent of “suspended” thinking. The creative element of our thoughts relate to thinking for new ideas: of seeing a new pattern of association between things and objects that were not obvious before. This also extends to finding new ways of expressing thoughts and contexts and combining already-existent, resident ideas to producing new and better communicative expressions, or turn of phrases.
The analytical aspect, as you’d deduce, is connected to acquiescing, or being receptive towards a situation, problem, subject, or decision, through a clear, step-by-step analysis. This mirrors, or conveys, testing statements, evidence, or proposals, against objective formats — in other words, the ability to seeing beneath the surface and above one’s skin of thought, at the “root source” of situations, with a rational underpinning.
Yet, it is apparent that the two types of thinking are not conflicting, or opposite, of each other. While it is agreed that all of us would need to think creatively and analytically to solving problems, or adapting certain, or specific, creative possibilities for each situation, the important point is one requires to be skilled in either form of thought — to be a creatively analytical and vice versa. This is primarily because quality thinking is the novel foundation of not only success, but also fulfilment.
It should be construed too that the two forms of thinking consist of asking the right questions — and, remembering to ask them each time. This explains the dynamic component of thinking — and, that the two forms need not always be automatic. It has to based and expressed on the pivot called eternal vigilance. Yet, the paradox is telling. Picture this — creative prizes, for example, do not always go to people who can “mug up,” or acquire, facts. It goes to folks who can imagine, absorb, mould, synthesise and combine them, in new, refreshing modes. As Albert Einstein placed it in perspective, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
When we use our imagination fully and liberally, we not only channelise and augment our intuitive abilities, for a greater purpose, but also equip ourselves with the creative capacity to think. This helps us to cure oneself of “psychosclerosis,” or the “hardening” of the mind and spirit that stems from overdependence on rationality and analysis.
Imagination is everyone’s intellectual faculty and fundamental right — it is the fulcrum of our creative ability to form images, ideas, and sensations in the mind, without any predisposed participation of the senses — for example, seeing or hearing. It helps to formulate knowledge that is applicable for solving problems. This is essential for integrating our experiences, feelings, and emotions, aside from delving into the essence and expanse of our learning process. You’d think of this facet as the right “ammo” you need — to awaken your mindful intelligence, if not genius, within.
In modern thought, the whole idea is analogous to the “flow” concept, propounded by the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The flow experience is similar to “being in the zone” in creative pursuits, or sports. You know it, don’t you? When you are in the zone, you achieve peak performance, primarily because your level of concentration is totally keyed-up. The outcome is impressive, stunning, and something more than what one could have expected. The philosopher Plato called it “divine frenzy” — or, inspirational “high” for all imaginatively inclined individuals. It powers us to go into ecstasy, or poetic rapture, or dazzling upsurge, with no real conscious effort and transform a simple foray into a piece of art.
(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)