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Think like a visionary

Creating a mismatch between mind and body can be an effective short cut to more creative thinking

Okay, the title is probably a bit of a grandstanding statement, but in essence it's still justifiable.

[quote]‘Visionary thinking' isn't necessarily confined to great minds like Socrates, Galileo and Fishlock.[/quote]

There's a very simple technique that anyone can try if you want to expand your mind – just get it out of synch with the body.

How does this work? We tend to perform at our best when our mind and body are in synch or "both on the same page". But deliberately creating a mismatch between mind and body can be an effective shortcut to more creative thinking.

This can be something as simple as telling a funny story with a sad expression on your face. Or the opposite – smiling cheerfully while recounting a tale of woe. Or even making a humble apology while standing tall with your chest puffed out. In each case, you're creating what's technically known as mind-body dissonance, which is a fancy name for a conflict between what's going on inside your mind and what your body is actually doing. And it's this conflict that expands the mind's horizons and gets it thinking more creatively. Hark, a visionary approacheth!

This may sound suspiciously like homespun, new-age quackery but it's been scientifically studied and proven. Huang and Galinsky (2011) tested the theory by getting study participants to do the happy story/sad face and sad story/happy face thing to get them into a state of mind-body dissonance. Meanwhile, a control group remained mind-body synched. All participants were then asked questions about everyday items such as vehicles, furniture and vegetables. The people who were in a dissonant frame of mind showed considerably more scope and creativity in their answers than the control group whose minds and bodies were still in synch.

"The ability to display bodily expressions that contradict mental states may be an important foundation for the capacity of humans to embrace atypical ideas," the researchers concluded in the academic journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Which is just a fancy way of saying - get your mind out of synch with your body and you too can think like a visionary.