How To Resolve Dilemmas Creatively & Recalibrate The Mind

Location: Oregon. My Camera: Olympus E-P2, 17mm lens

Nature As A Problem Solver

What do you do when you have a problem that you can’t stop thinking about or a dilemma that you want to solve? I have always employed what I refer to as “left-brained” tactics. I would think about it over and over again. I’d muscle my way through it, trying to find an answer by using lists or other organizational methods. Or I might call a friend and talk about it until I was horse. Either way, I would try hard to “figure it all out” as soon as possible.

I don’t do that so much anymore because those muscle tactics hardly ever brought me resolution and they never made me happy either.

The Creativity Post today encourages us to get outside and play for environmental sustainability, but it’s not just for the environment. It’s also for our sanity. Nature can be a wonderful healer and precursor to problem solving.  Though my persistence can sometimes create breakthroughs, it’s often the case that taking a break and stepping away – especially toward nature – helps in letting go of the need to tightly control the dilemma. It also can usher in that recalibration of the mind for more creative problem-solving.

Today, letting go and going toward nature helped change both my mood and my connection with my inner muse.  I was spinning in my head, thinking about my next move in my growth in photography, feeling like I needed to hurry up and figure it out. I forget about these good principles like letting go.

So I thought I could squeeze through my creative tight spot using muscle tactics. A close friend reminded me of the sane thing to do – that letting go, walking away and allowing myself to be distracted might actually reset and recalibrate my mind and spirit. Doing just that made room, so to speak, for my creativity come back to a cleaner, more expansive place.

How to Recalibrate the Mind

Here are the overall steps I’m starting to take to recalibrate my mind and open up to creativity:

1) Admit that controlling the problem is taking too long. If an idea or a solution doesn’t appear readily, it’s often the case that I’m either blocking it or it’s just not time yet. The more I try to force it, the more out of control I actually get. Admitting that “this too” I cannot control right now and allowing even 10 minutes to completely disconnect can set the stage for an altered view of the problem.

2) Get up, move, and find somewhere to breathe. The act of moving my body away from where I’ve been sitting tells my mind, “I agree with you. It’s time.” It sets the intention for something different. I then scan my body for where the tension is hiding and just breathe into it. I also make sure I’ve left my mobile phone behind!

3) Look for a distraction. I find something completely different to focus on for a while. This forces the controlling thoughts to the back of my mind, giving them less power over me.

Today, I found that after a 15 minute walk outside followed by an hour long meeting discussing something entirely different, my mind felt expanded and much clearer. My dilemma was not “solved” but my outlook was much more positive and I am now willing to let the dilemma exist for a while just as it is, with no timetable, instead of trying to control it tightly. The payoff is that I made room for happiness and I feel more of a creative surge.

Studies show that a relaxing the mind can create a more positive outlook and having a more positive outlook — simply being happier — can increase creativity.  In 2012, a study found that a team of backpackers were 50 percent more creative after they had spent four days on the trail. The cognitive benefits to consciously letting go of controlling a problem with your mind can serve as a turning point, if you let it.


There is no controlling life.

Try corralling a lightning bolt,

containing a tornado. Dam a

stream and it will create a new

channel. Resist, and the tide

will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry

you to higher ground. The only

safety lies in letting it all in –

the wild and the weak; fear,

fantasies, failures and success.

When loss rips off the doors of

the heart, or sadness veils your

vision with despair, practice

becomes simply bearing the truth.

In the choice to let go of your

known way of being, the whole

world is revealed to your new eyes.

By Danna Faulds

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