Saturday, April 30, 2016

Is Your Child Naturally Creative? Nine Sure Signs that They Are

I believe that creative talents are due to nature (gift) and nurture (learn) at the same time. It is a blend of the two. But some children seem to be outstandingly creative from a very young age. Victoria Wilson in her book Boost Your Child’s Creativity (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc; 2009) listed nine signs that your child may be creatively gifted or naturally creative:

1)    They’re Often Lost in Daydreams. A vivid imagination, and a love of fantasizing and being playful with thoughts is a strong sign of a creative child.

2)    They Connect Seemingly Random Objects and Ideas in Their Fantasy Play. Of course most children love imaginary play, but a key thing to look out for is if your child connects seemingly random objects or ideas into their play or stories. For example, they are an alien descending to sample the tomato soup on planet Earth, or their pretend horse loves chatting to the flowers on his mobile phone. This ability to make unusual connections is a key trait of very creative children.

3)    They Ask Lots of Unusual Questions. Most children go through a phase of asking ‘Why?’ to everything. But if your child is always asking questions and especially if he or she comes up with very strange, seemingly silly questions such as, ‘What would happen if the sun came back up at night-time?’ or ‘Why don’t apples grow from our fingers?’ it is a strong sign they are very creative. What they are also demonstrating is the ability to rearrange elements of thought to create new ideas and the inclination to question things others take for granted.

4)    They’re Often the Odd One Out; They Don’t Dress or Act the Same Way Others Do. It’s natural for children to want to be accepted by their classmates and friends, but some children will deliberately choose to be the odd one out no matter how much pressure there is to fit in. Often this is simply because they think differently to others, and thinking differently is thinking originally.

5)    They’re Resourceful and Good at Solving Problems. Creative children are, by definition, good problem solvers because they are flexible in the way they think and adapt quickly to different situations. Also, by definition, children who are creative will have lots of ideas and potential solutions to problems.

6)    They Love Playing Alone and Can Entertain Themselves for Long Periods of Time. Of course, children need some organized activities, and there’s even some evidence that a little carefully selected TV can stimulate learning and ideas. But a child who’s naturally able to come up with ideas is usually able to find plenty to occupy him or herself. In fact, it is very hard for children who are shuttled from one arranged activity to another, or put in front of the TV for long periods every day, to be creative.

7)    They’re Often So Absorbed in What They’re Doing, They Don’t Even Hear You. Being utterly absorbed in creative play or activities is to be in what famous psychologist Abraham Maslow labelled a ‘peek experience.’ This is the ability to ‘become lost in the present.’ It’s an important ability, particularly for young children who need constant supervision, because it allows them to free themselves from interaction and interruptions by others, while remaining in their presence, so they can really focus on their own thoughts, feelings and experiences. This is essential for creativity, because it allows children to form individual and original thoughts.

8)    They’re Rebellious. Of course, sometimes this is simply bad behaviour, but the instinct to think for themselves and to be individuals will drive creative children to question parents, teachers and books. It is down to you and your innate knowledge of your own child to determine whether a demand to wear a ballerina costume to bed is an act of creative expression, or a ploy to put off bedtime…

9)    They’re Often Both Extroverts and Introverts. Psychologists have found that very creative people can often be very outgoing and very shy at different times, whereas most of the population are either one or the other.

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Leonardo da Vinci's Unquenchable Curiosity and Acute Observations

Helen Gardner, in her book Art through the Ages (1970) writes of Leonardo da Vinci’s “unquenchable curiosity,” and we see this reflected in the 13,000 pages of his famous journals, in which he made a daily record – in notes, drawings, and scientific diagrams – of his observations and studies. These notebooks cover a wide range of interests and phenomena, from human anatomy and facial expressions to animals, birds, plants, rocks, water, chemistry, optics, painting, astronomy, architecture and engineering.

Biographer Daniel Arassa recounts just how far da Vinci would go to try to understand everything around him. On one occasion, the great man coated the wings of the fly with honey to find out if this would change the sound of its buzzing noise in flight. Observing that the note produced by the fly was lower than usual, he attributed this to the fact that the ballasted wings were beating the air less rapidly than before. Thus, da Vinci concluded that the pitch of a musical note is connected with the speed of the percussive movement of the air.

Da Vinci’s acute observations led him to think about and try to solve problems that hadn’t been seriously considered before. Nobody, for example, was asking for a parachute, a car, a submarine, a hang glider, a diving suit, a helicopter, a calculator, or floating shoes and stocks for walking on water, but Leonardo da Vinci invented, or at least conceptualized, these things.

He also came up with military innovations like the machine gun, the armoured tank, the finned mortar shell, a giant crossbow, a triple-barrel cannon, and a mobile bridge. He sketched mechanical breakthroughs such as a steam engine, a hydraulic pump, a reversible crank mechanism, a flywheel system, ball bearings, a hoisting machine, a more accurate clock, an automated bobbin winder, a lens-grinding machine, and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire. He designed the world’s first canal lock system, a method for excavating tunnels through mountains, a 720-foot (220 m) single-span bridge, a new kind of musical instrument, a double hull for ships, an industrial use for solar power, and a fully functional robot (which he built and displayed for his patron, Ludovico Sforza, at a celebration in Milan in 1495).

Da Vinci,” writes Rowan Gibson, “was able to spot unmet needs and innovation opportunities because he was vastly more observant and more engaged with his environment than others. He was focusing his attention on issues and frustrations that most people simply ignored.”
[Quoted from The 4 Lenses of Innovation (2015) by Rowan Gibson. Title mine]
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Renaissance Innovators who Challenge Orthodoxies (Nonconformists Wins)

Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when we think about Renaissance innovators is their contrarian spirit. It was a time when people began to ask sceptical questions that had never been asked before, and to challenge deeply entrenched beliefs that had long been taken for granted. For examples:

Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler asked:
“What if the Earth is not the centre of the Universe? What if it revolves around the Sun along with the other planets?”

Martin Luther asked:
“What if the papacy and the dogma of the Roman Catholic church are actually wrong? And what if we could read the Bible and listen to sermons in our own language, instead of in Latin?”

Petrarch asked:
“What if a person can achieve great things in this world without being ungodly? What if God wants us to use the intellectual and creative powers he gave us to their fullest potential?”

Andreas Vesalius asked:
“What if the dominant theories of human anatomy that have been unassailable for a thousand years are fully misguided? What if the human body functions completely differently than we have been taught? And what if we started dissecting some dead bodies to find out the truth?”

Paracelsus asked:
“What if everything we know about medicine is nonsense? What if certain chemicals and minerals, used in the right dosage, would be a far better way to cure illnesses than traditional practices? What if nature could teach us more about medicine than ancient books from Greece and Rome?”

Machiavelli asked:
“What if politics has nothing to do with theology or morality? What if it’s simply about using all means – fair and foul – to retain power?”

Descartes asked:
“What if all of our traditional systems of thinking, most of which are founded upon Aristotle’s ideas, are false? What if we set out to build a new philosophical system from the group up, by first doubting everything we think we know?”

Isaac Newton asked:
“What if conventional concepts of physics, gravity, and motion are inconsistent with reality? What if we need new laws and mathematical models for understanding mechanics?”

Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti asked:
“Why can’t a painting be less like wall decoration and more like a window into the nature world? What if we used mathematical and optional principles to imitate objects so accurately that they look entirely real?”

Christopher Columbus asked:
“What if we could get to the East Indies much faster by sailing west instead of east and circumnavigating the globe?”

Amerigo Vespucci asked:
“What if the Earth has a much larger circumference that we learned from Ptolemy’s cartography? What if these lands Columbus has newly discovered are not the Indies at all, but in fact another whole continent – a New World?”

Almost by definition, the Renaissance revolutionaries were nonconformists who were willing to contest previously held truths – beliefs and assumptions that had been accepted as absolute truth for perhaps a thousand years or more – and to reinvent their worldview completely from scratch. Many of them were branded as heretics or lunatics. Yet their propensity to break the chains of precedent and to challenge conventional thinking became the basis for a whole string of breakthrough discoveries and new philosophies that literally changed our world.
[Questions are taken from The 4 Lenses of Innovation (2015) by Rowan Gibson. Title mine]

Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Change Your Life: Love and Respect Those Close to You

Watch Fast & Furious movies sometime, they value family together (minus guns and explosions)
Respect is love in plain clothes
(Frankie Byrne)

Often we save our best behaviour for strangers. We tend to take greater liberties (I mean taking for granted) with those who are closest to us – those who care about us most and about whom we care – than we do with total strangers. We may say painful and hurtful things to family members; we may act hostile to our partner or best friend. Although we may feel intimate and shared long history with them (no worthwhile relationship is going to be free from hurt and pain), there is no excuse for us to show hostility, insults or contempt.  

When I was a child, I often think that my parents are perfect. The same thing happens when I fall in love. But at some point, reality set in, and I discovered that my parents – including those that I loved – is human, just like everyone on earth! And then, whether it’s because of the disappointment or because we know their shortcomings so intimately – we attack them more than we do other people. This is not right! I learned that instead of focusing on my parents’ imperfections and weaknesses, I need to focus on those traits that I admire and appreciate in them, and treat them with love and respect.

I propose a slightly modified version of Golden Rule, namely: Do not do unto those close to you what you would not have done unto others (who are not close to you). We can get angry and upset, we can be disappointed and hurt, but if we want our relationships to flourish over time, we must treat those we love with at least as much respect as we do those we have just met.

Don’t simply insults and disrespect those close to you,
Learn to love and respect those whom you care the most.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Change Your Life: Do Something - Help and Contribute

You can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness
(Anne Frank)

With ever-increasing demands on our time, energy, and resources, many of us feel that we are doing all we can just to meet our obligations. As a result, we often let pass the opportunities that we have to help other people. Crucially, it’s not only those in need who pay the price of our indifference. We, too, lose out by not helping others.

Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky conducted an experiment in which she asked people to carry out, in the course of one day, five kind acts that they would not normally do. These actions do not have to be grand and dramatic. An act of kindness can be baking cookies for your neighbour, or donating money or time to a cause you believe in, or helping a friend think through a dilemma, or giving blood, or even simply opening a door for a stranger. What Lyubomirsky found was that whether large or small, these acts of kindness contributed significantly to the well-being of those who gave, not just while they were performing these acts, not just for one day, but for the entire week.
[Taken from Choose the Live You Want (2012) by Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD]

Don’t remain indifferent,
Do something – help and contribute.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Change Your Life: No Success without Risk and Failure

If you want to increase your success rate,
double your failure rate
(Thomas Watson)

When we hear about extremely successful people, we mostly hear about their great accomplishments – not about the many mistakes they made and the failures they experienced along the way. In fact, most successful people throughout history are also those who have had the most failures. That is no coincidence. People who achieve great feats, no matter in what field, understand that failure is not a stumbling block but a stepping-stone on the road to success. These is no success without risk and failure. We often fail to see this truth because the outcome is more visible than the process – we see the final success and not the many failures that led to it.

When I acknowledge that fulfilling my God-given potential must involve some failure, I no longer run away from risks and challenges. The choice is a simple one: Learn to fail, or fail to learn.

Thomas Edison had 1,093 patents registered to his name – more than any other person in history! And while he most certainly deserves a place of honour in the science hall of fame, he also deserves honorary membership in the “failure hall of fame” for the tens of thousands of experiments he conducted that failed. Edison himself, however, did not see these experiments as failures. When he was working on one of his inventions, a storage battery, someone pointed out to him that he had failed ten thousand times. “I have not failed,” responded Edison, “I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” Recognizing the real path to his accomplishments, Edison remarked, “I failed my way to success.”

Don’t avoid making mistakes by not trying,
Learn from failure.
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)

Top 10 Most Read Idea(s) Last 7 Days


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