Like an exercise program designed to condition the body’s muscles, the mind works best if it is challenged with a daily regimen of creative thinking. But how do you go about developing a daily exercise program to strengthen the creative faculties of your mind? Here is a simple method described by the late self-help expert Earl Nightingale, which only requires three things: a pad of paper, a pencil and an open mind.
1. First, give your subconscious a pressing problem to gnaw on just before you go to sleep. Spend 30 minutes or so thinking about a current problem, challenge or opportunity you face, just before you go to sleep. When you lay down, forget about it. While you’re sleeping, your subconscious mind, the seat of most breakthough ideas, will be mulling it over and working on it.
2. The next morning,wake up one hour before anyone else. Sit down in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee, a pad of paper and a pencil.
3. Relax and let the ideas begin to flow. Write everything down that occurs to you, not matter how far out or unusual these thoughts may seem. You can evaluate these ideas and thoughts later. Right now, your job is to let your brain do a “mental dump” onto paper — into a form in which you can do something with these ideas.
While this brainstorming method appears to be almost too simple, Nightingale said it worked like a charm for him. He used this technique on a regular basis, with outstanding results. The key, he said, was the subconscious mind, which is like a giant storehouse of thoughts and ideas, floating around just below our conscious awareness. Hunches or insights are simply ideas that have bubbled up from the vast resources of our subconscious minds.
What you’re doing by feeding your mind a problem or opportunity just before you go to sleep is “stuffing” your subconscious mind — feeding your powerful brain fresh material with which to work.
From my personal experience, the first hours of the morning seem to be a golden time for ideas and insights. Many times, inspirations have come to me while I’m in the shower. And it has been so for many of history’s greatest thinkers. In the early morning hours, our minds are largely uncluttered, free of many problems and concerns — making our conscious minds especially receptive to hunches, insights and ideas that percolate up from the subconscious. Capture those ideas on paper, and you may find that some of them could be quite valuable to you.
Why not try this simple but effective brainstorming technique, and see what results you can obtain with it.