As we leisurely ate our meal, Dharma asked me a question, "Irwin, I can tell something's wrong. Perhaps if you tell me, I can help." "Well, Dharma, I've got several things bothering me. I have no control over a couple of the issues, so all I can do is try to accept them and move on. But a couple of the other things, are within my power to fix, yet I can't come up with any workable solutions. It's causing me to lose sleep." "I can understand, my boy. I have found myself in that unenviable position on a few times. I have learned, though, that a frog must adapt the remedy to his disease. Do you know what this means?" Well, um..." I hesitated, "Sometimes we need to only take half an aspirin if our headache isn't very bad?" Dharma smiles, and replied, "Actually, Tadpole, this is a metaphor; by remedy I mean solution, and by disease I mean our problems...what's troubling us. But only taking half an aspirin for a slight headache is kind of the same thing. It's a creative and new solution to the problem we're having with our heads. Today's lesson is on the power of creative thinking."
Creative problem solving (CPS) is a method whereby we use imaginative and innovative ideas for overcoming our difficulties and challenges. CPS can allow each of us to redefine the problems and opportunities we all face and find creative and innovative solutions for them. It's a modern-day version of thinking outside the box. Dharma explained creative problem solving this way,
C = Creative species elements of newness, innovation, and novelty.
P = Problem refers to any situation that presents a challenge, offers an opportunity or represents a troubling concern.
S = Solving means devising ways, to answer, to meet, or to satisfy a situation by changing self or the situation.
So, how does one begin the creative problem-solving process? According to my wise teacher, we must start with divergent thinking. This means simply coming up with lots of options. At this point, we don't need to worry about how they'll work or if they'll work. The point of divergent thinking is to come up will as many ways as you can think of to solve the problem at hand. Most of you will know this as brainstorming. Brainstorm with yourself, your coworkers, friends, and family. Ask experts if you can. Generate as many plausible solutions as time allows.
Next is convergent thinking. We accomplish this by looking at all of our options and evaluating each of them. Then, we can narrow down our list to include only the ones that have real possibilities. Here, we begin making decisions. Dharma says that he likes to go through his list of top solutions, then list the pros and cons for each. He can then systematically choose the best possible solution to the problem or challenge at hand (or flipper, in our case).
Oftentimes, necessity is the mother of invention. Creative thinking has led to some of the best innovations and technological advances of our time...of any time throughout history. Somebody sees a problem and dreams of creating a new/better way to approach one, they utilize the CPS process and, voila! That's how we end up getting great new products that make our lives easier and better. Every great idea started as creative thinking.
While not all of us will create things like Apple or the worldwide web, we each have issues in our lives that need fixing. And the solutions we've used in the past may no longer work.it's not just artists, writers, and musicians that are endowed with creative abilities. Each of us, frog and human alike, has the capability to be creative in solving our problems. After Dharma left this morning, I sat down and began some divergent thing in regards to my challenges. I will talk to family and my friends. We'll brainstorm and then I can actively choose which solution will work best for me. And this is a whole lot better than losing sleep and pacing the floor. Creative problem solving can work for you, too. So next time life is bugging you, give it a try! What have you got to lose besides a little sleep?
Until tomorrow, I wish you all