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May 20, 2011

Creativity, Languages, and the Subconscious

by aliciaarnold
dream pillows

Image by sweetjessie via Flickr

Being able to speak a different language helps spark creativity by providing access to more people and more cultures. This leads to greater understanding, a more open mind, and greater empathy – all great building blocks for drawing creative inspiration.

Although I live my life in an English-speaking world, sometimes when I dream about my grandparents, I dream in Chinese. Growing up, I spent a great deal of time living with my grandparents and speaking Chinese. Now that I’m older and do not speak Chinese as much, I feel most comfortable with the language in my dreams. While dreaming, I carry on lengthy conversations with my grandparents. Upon waking and walking through a play-by-play of the conversations, I am always surprised by how much of the language I still remember.

Some researchers believe creativity lies in the subconscious. For me, tapping into the ability to speak Chinese (even, if in my sleep) provides access to a rich fountain of ideas. While a second language opens up doors, the ability to retrieve thoughts from dreams creates new pathways for the imagination to roam. The ability to get into your subconscious and visualize outcomes is handy when problem solving, too. Next time you have a tough problem, think about it just before going to bed. You may be able to work through the problem in your sleep!


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