Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {Problem Solving & Creativity}

Trust that little voice in your head that says "Wouldn't it be interesting if..."  And then do it.  ~Duane Michals, "More Joy of Photography"

To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.  ~George Kneller

Welcome to another Wellness Wednesday post! I can't believe how many weeks this weekly post has occurred. If you've missed some of the previous posts, click here to check them out!

Today I'll continue to work my way through Life Task 2, discussing Problem Solving & Creativity.

Myers & Sweeney describe this factor of wellness the following way:

Being mentally active, open minded, ability and desire to be creative, curiosity, need to know, need to learn, capacity to collect data, analyze, synthesize, choose and evaluate consequences of outcomes (i.e. divergent and convergent thinking), capacity to change one’s thinking to manage stress (cognitive restructuring), capacity to apply the above characteristics in resolving social conflict.

Problem Solving & Creativity, which involves intellectual stimulation, can help increase neural connections, leading to greater brain plasticity later in life. Myers and Sweeney (2005)* state that this component is “necessary for healthy brain functioning and hence quality of life across the life span” (p. 23). This component is not only necessary to increase everyday functioning, both at work and in our personal life, but is also necessary for physical health in the later years of our life. 

I have to be honest. I have always wished that I was a more creative and artistic person. When I first started researching the components of wellness, I realized that I am creative! Meeting with clients takes a lot of problem solving and creativity skills, from helping guide them to change, realizations & self awareness in life, and creating treatment plans for them. It's not what we typically think of in terms of creativity, but it is using the brain in a creative fashion. This is also a crucial component in learning to deal with stress. Unless we can identify the causes of the stress, what things trigger us, and what situations these things occur in, and then learn to implement appropriate coping skills, we will be stuck in a pattern of unhealthy behaviors. Problem solving is important to learning to deal with and conquer the stress in our lives.

When we learn to apply a set of criteria to a situation to solve a problem, we build neural connections, as well as confidence in self in the future. 
When I go about trying to solve a problem, here are some of the steps I take:

  1. What problem are you trying to solve? Define your terms and create a question to answer.
  2. Categorize problems from urgent to less urgent.
  3. Collect as much information as I can about the situation: Talk to multiple parties, get expert advice, learn from the mistakes of others, and do as much research as possible. It's easy to make a decision without being informed, which can lead to problems.
  4. Evaluate the information and put it into a few general categories or ways to solve the problem.
  5. Rate each category on a scale of 1-10. If you want to make a pro-con list for each, and then rate each item for each category, this will give you even more information.
  6. Decide on a plan to best implement your solution to the problem.
  7. Action! Put the plan into action and follow up with evaluation to determine if the problem has actually been solved.
Of course I don't take each of these steps with every problem- some situations require more steps, while some require much less. 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself for this category:
  1. When you stumble across a problem, do you think through various options or jump to a conclusion without thinking?
  2. Do you do activities to increase problem solving skills (i.e. sudoku or logic problems)?
  3. How do you currently experience creativity in your every day life?
  4. What can you do to increase creative experiences in your life?
  5. What is your approach when you hit a problem and need to come to a solution?
  6. When feeling stressed, are you able to identify the stressor and implement appropriate steps to decrease the stress?
Here's what I'd like to know:
How do you experience creativity in your everyday life? What can you do to increase your problem solving skills?

*Myers, J.E., & Sweeney, T.J. (2005). Counseling for wellness. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association. 

1 comment:

  1. My problem solving skills are pretty excellent if I do say so myself, but I don't really think of myself as very I type this though, I realize I'm pretty creative with food :)