How To Enhance Your Creative Thinking.
List your favorite foods. Sushi, Tacos, Dumplings, Lasagna, Noodles, Ice-Cream… Have you ever thought that one of the reasons why you eat this delicious treats is globalization? We are able to find them or even just know that they exist because somebody – who has a different culture – introduced them to our country.
Food’s just one of the many benefits of getting in touch with different cultures. It also allows us to be open to criticism as well as to be patient and more understanding with others. Most importantly, having relationships of any kind with foreign people can enhance your creative thinking. A recent study conducted by William Maddux and Hajo Adam from INSEAD business school, together with Adam Galinsky from Northwestern University, discovered that deeply learning new cultures is key to reaping cognitive rewards. A series of experiments have been conducted on people who had lived abroad for a long time. Expats were asked whether they had learned something about the culture they lived in or even about their own culture. Those claiming to learn something new performed better at creative problem-solving tasks.
Is It Really That Simple?
Actually, no. Just noticing a difference can not boost your creativity. You need to ask yourself why it’s different, the reasons behind it. One simple example is the “siesta” that is common throughout the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. It is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Most people only see it as a lazy habit, but it is indeed a consequence of the warm weather in such countries. Especially in the past when air conditioning still wasn’t a thing, workers took the “siesta” because the weather around midday was so hot to make it dangerous to work with such temperature. So they just took a break and started again when it got fresher.
Creativity consists of considering alternatives to the way things are currently done and see the world from different perspectives. Creative people are comfortable with the fact that the activities you engage in as well as the way you achieve a goal, is just one of the many different approaches to life. It is just a matter of choice.
It’s All About Making Connections.
Creativity is about connecting dots. When someone enters a relationship with a person from a different culture, they collect more dots to connect to the ones they already have. Getting close to a new culture is a way of practicing the same skills used during a creative process. As a consequence, the closer you get, the more your creativity will grow. Not to mention, your cognitive flexibility will also benefit. That is, apart from having more dots you’ll be more capable of connecting them.
In other words, living in a multicultural environment pushes you outside the box, being that you are lead to switch your cognitive frameworks.
By exchanging experiences, I hope one day we’ll be able to delete Xenophobia forever. This word from Ancient Greek is nothing but a self-defense mechanism. The literal meaning is “fear of the unknown”. If you fill the gaps, you won’t have to fear it anymore.
So let’s pack your stuff and dive into a new country, with new people and habits. If you can’t, find a multicultural group in your town and hang out with them sometimes.