The Coolest Way To Become Incredible At Creative Problem Solving!

Jul 30, 2014 | Creativity

creative space

There is yet another reason to constantly shift your space slightly and continue to add in lots of fun and fantasy.

It is another reason to get involved in your neighborhood, learn more passionately and become more curious about the unknown.

And, it is the perfect reason to travel more.

The very interesting science to support this dreamy, playtime, suspension of reality is compelling.

Creativity increases when you can get fresh perspective and imagine that the problems you are solving are at a distance from you.

Meaning: if you can suspend reality and imagine that a problem is far away, even in another realm, you can solve it with far greater ease.  You can imagine a multitude of conclusions to a story if  you can move the problem away from you, looking at it from a new perspective.

Imagine your big job search is not staring you in the face, imagine its happening in a new city, maybe even some place like Bali or Hawaii.  What would you do then? How would you go about finding what you needed?

It’s a big concept… but when you embrace this concept, the effects are glorious…and artful!


The idea of getting distance from a problem is not new.  We have all been told to sleep on an issue… to take a break and walk away from a challenge for an afternoon… or to take a vacation and come back fresh to get some important work done.

It seems that science supports the fact that the third option above- — the vacation you might take—  if you actually leave home— can be the most therapeutic in terms of kick-starting your creative engines.

Psychological distance, though, does not require that you travel. It is the reason I have some people put globes in their homes, wallpaper a room in maps, add pictures of the cosmos to an office entryway or the like.  You can literally imagine yourself- or your problems and creative endeavors- to be in a far off space.  To the degree that you can suspend reality, you will have greater latitude to think juicy, brilliant, unexpected thoughts.

THIS incredible article in Scientific American details the way that this distance- real or imagined- allows a multitude of ideas and concepts, images and solutions to spring forth while there were none when viewing things at close proximity:

” Why does psychological distance increase creativity? According to CLT, psychological distance affects the way we mentally represent things, so that distant things are represented in a relatively abstract way while psychologically near things seem more concrete. Consider, for instance, a corn plant. A concrete representation would refer to the shape, color, taste, and smell of the plant, and connect the item to its most common use – a food product. An abstract representation, on the other hand, might refer to the corn plant as a source of energy or as a fast growing plant. These more abstract thoughts might lead us to contemplate other, less common uses for corn, such as a source for ethanol, or to use the plant to create mazes for children. What this example demonstrates is how abstract thinking makes it easier for people to form surprising connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, such as fast growing plants (corn) and fuel for cars (ethanol).

In this most recent set of studies, (Lile) Jia and colleagues examined the effect of spatial distance on creativity. Participants in the first study performed a creative generation task, in which they were asked to list as many different modes of transportation as possible. This task was introduced as having been developed either by Indiana University students studying in Greece (distant condition) or by Indiana University students studying in Indiana (near condition). As predicted, participants in the distant condition generated more numerous and original modes of transportation than participants in the near condition.” 

This research and many more similar studies open the door to a wellspring of great ideas.

I think this explains why I would take a bus as a 13-year-old from New Jersey to Port Authority in Manhattan on the weekends and walk up to the Metropolitan Museum Of Art… losing myself in the Mummy tombs and Pop Art collections…

In your home, you can create an art space that helps you to solve problems similarly.  As a child, did you ever play with toys and imagine that you were on a beach, or on Mars or in a jungle or some other galaxy entirely? Of course you did!

And you can create a similar play space filled with Play Dough, toys, crayons, paints, crafts, dolls, maps of the world, encyclopedias or anything else that helps you to escape far from the here and now.

In this more adventurous reality, you have mental distance.

In this clear mind-space of distance, amazing things can happen!

xoxo Dana

A big P.S. for the season ahead:

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HERE’s where to go to get started! (xoxo!)


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  1. Spanish Home Style | Feng Shui Interior Design | The Tao of Dana - […] bold and yet balanced.  Since creativity is enhanced by looking at things that are distant (*yes, this is proven……

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