To be creative, we must marvel.
We must not allow ourselves to get used to the marvels of life, both small and great. When we wonder and marvel, we take in every aspect of the subject of our wonderment. Those things we take in, that's the very stuff ideas are made of. When we marvel we take in inspiration; we take in the puzzle pieces that will form the ideas we are still to come up with.
It's a pity that us humans can get used to just about anything. It makes life less interesting. There's a bit of Louis CK's stand-up comedy that illustrates well what I mean – it's definitely worth a couple of minutes:
In a brilliantly funny way he points out how we as a society just got used to amazing things. They don't even really amaze us anymore. It's part of human nature to take things for granted after we've had them for a while, but how can the things you don't notice inspire you, even if they're staring you in the face?
Creativity is helped by the inquisitive state of mind that is born from wonderment, that's why we can't let ourselves become indifferent by default.
Wonderment makes us look at the world with creative eyes.
I lived in Dubai for 6 years as an expat. That's the home of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It was built during my stay there, and I could see it rise, floor by floor, from my office window. After it was completed, it was one impressive piece of engineering. It's humongous size and the way it shone under the Middle Eastern sun was truly mesmerizing – and still is.
As the years went by, though, people got used to it. They didn't look up at it anymore as they drove by. Jaws stopped dropping and people started complaining about the building reflecting the sun in their eyes. The same would have happened to me – but I decided I wouldn't let that happen. I wanted to marvel at it. Every time I saw it, day or night, I let my jaw drop. I imagined why architects might have decided on its triangular shape, or how the crane operators must have felt 800m (2600ft) above the ground. I let my thoughts wonder, crawling through different spaces in my mind. That very process facilitates connections and, consequently, the creation of ideas.
As I said before, being creative is intentional. To be it, you have to try to be it. That's a constant, conscious struggle. It's a good idea to make yourself wonder about the amazing things we have around us. It'll help you be more creative.
Here's a little exercise to open our minds:
1. Next time you get a call on your always-on, internet-connected cell phone, remember how it used to be 20 years ago. Ask yourself how was it possible for telephones to evolve so much in only 2 decades.
2. Think about the fact that the question "Where are you?" was hardly ever asked before the 90's.
3. Ask yourself what's on the top floor of the Burj Khalifa.
The top floor of the Burj Khalifa must be so skinny, I've always wondered what's there. What do you think could be in there? Answer in the comments!