I see you. I see you seeking creativity. I see you sitting glumly with your elbow on the table and your chin resting in the palm of your hand. I see you staring wildly around the room hoping to spot an idea in the corner crevice. Are you trying to come up with a unique theme for a birthday party you’re throwing? Are you struggling to conceive a business start-up idea? I don’t know. That much I can’t see. After all, I’m not a seer, just a rabbi.
However, even as a rabbi, I know that several times each week you seek a great idea because great ideas greatly improve our lives. This means that you need every possible strategy and technique for attracting powerful ideas into your mind.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of books and blogs detailing tips and tools for generating ideas: Calendar a specific time and set an alarm to terminate the session. Make it quiet time with no electronic distractions. Pencil and paper will do more for you than tablet or smartphone. Discipline your mind not to wander or daydream but to focus only on possible solutions to the problem. Calendar a second creative thinking session the following day allowing ideas to percolate in your subconscious overnight. You probably already know most of these ideas.
However, one indispensable element of truly creative thinking is largely unknown. Its absence is usually most responsible for failure. It makes all the difference between a productive creative session and wasted time.
The one absolutely necessary ingredient for successful creativity is having a heart filled with happiness. When joyfulness overwhelms your soul, the gates of limitless mental creativity swing wide open.
In order to understand how this works, read these three verses that seem to repeat the same idea.
Three times in the year all your males must appear before the Lord God.
Three times in the year all your males must appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel.
…thou shall rejoice in your feast…and in all the work of your hands…three times in the year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place which He shall choose; in the festival of unleavened bread (Passover), in the festival of weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost), and in the festival of booths (Sukot)…
Readers who think the Bible is the work of assorted human authors must ask themselves why some early editor didn’t remove two redundant verses. After all, how many times does anyone need to be told something?
Those of us comfortable knowing that God authored His book, ask what secret message is encoded into the triplicated message. We got it the first time—males must pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year.
Three times a year? Message repeated three times? Hmmm…ancient Jewish wisdom to the rescue.
A general rule in understanding the Torah is that repeating messages ascend in importance. The first verse matches Passover. God took us out of Egypt; He’s the Boss. If He says to go up to Jerusalem, we go.
The second verse relates to Shavuot (Pentecost), the time of the giving of the Torah. God is our God – there is a close relationship.
Mention of rejoicing and productivity precede the third verse. We go up not only to follow orders, not only because we crave a close relationship with God, but also as an expression of joy and fulfillment.
That’s it! If you are happy, you will be productive enough to appear before the Lord bearing gifts. The three festivals all emphasize gratitude to God, and few things contribute more to a feeling of happy optimism than expressing gratitude. But that’s not all; each festival also highlights its own mechanism for inculcating a happy feeling in our hearts. Passover is all about visualizing a spirit of redemption.
The Passover Seder teaches that we must each see ourselves as emerging from Egypt to freedom. Therefore, seeing success in our mind’s eye is the first step in bringing about a happy heart.
Shavuot is about seven weeks of progress, journeying from the depths of Egypt to the sublime heights of Sinai. Hence, the second step trains us to plan detailed steps that can take us from where we are to where we want to be.
Finally, Sukot is all about happiness and water. One of the Torah messages of water is that it flows to the lowest point; a metaphor of humility. When we lower ourselves from an elevated posture of arrogance, water, which in Torah nomenclature evokes both wisdom and happiness, flows in our direction.
Those are the four steps to a soulset conducive to creativity. Once you are all set up for a session of creative thinking:
1) Evoke gratitude
2) Imagine how you’ll feel when you have come up with a successful solution
3) Visualize the stepping stones to get to the solution you need.
4) Arouse your humble persona.
These four steps will fill your heart with an indescribable joy and thereby equip you for the most successful creative thinking session of your life.
In my mind, I am confident that I do us both a favor by identifying for you the ancient Jewish wisdom resources that will benefit your life. For more on happiness and productivity see my book, Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language. Delve into the Hebrew words and capture the added wisdom embedded in God’s language. Read more about it here.