The Surprising Sources of Creativity: Good Ideas Can Be Generated From Anywhere

10 min readApr 11


Photo by Yann Jacobsen on Unsplash

Everything in the real world happens first in the mind. The source of ideas can be a wooden log or a drop of water. The greater people in the world have cultivated the habit of setting the stage for creative thinking. In the fast-paced world, everybody is busy with their daily routines and there is always a paucity of subject thinking. It is the time to broaden our understanding of the ideas which are popping up in our minds daily.

Creativity is more important than ever in the prevailing stereotypical working environment, especially for those who are in a job. While returning from the gym after my fitness schedule, I saw a lady rushing towards the news center as she must have been late for her broadcasting speech. We are not even able to set our daily routine hours for our job, how can we schedule or thinking process?

Right from the entrepreneurs launching ground-breaking startups to artists pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, creativity is the engine driving innovation and progress. But when it comes to generating good ideas, many of us fall into the trap of thinking that creativity is the sole domain of a select few ‘creative types.’ We might think of a genius inventor tinkering away in a lab or a brilliant writer penning their masterpiece in isolation.

But the truth is, good ideas can come from anywhere. When one of the trainers in the gym wished me good morning and said, “Writing Is Important!” I could not understand his comment but later on, I realized that he had read my recent article “Writing Is A Therapy.”

When he appreciated the book cover of my 12th title, I had an idea to write a book on “Physical Fitness.” When I expressed my feelings of writing a book on the subject, he was very much happy and showed interest to guide me for some of the creative ideas.

Some of the most innovative ideas come from unexpected sources — from everyday experiences to seemingly unrelated ideas to diverse perspectives. By broadening our understanding of where good ideas come from, we can unlock our creativity and generate breakthrough ideas in all aspects of our lives.

We can always explore some of the surprising sources of creativity and tap into them to generate good ideas from unexpected resources. From everyday experiences to mindfulness practices, we can delve into the science and stories behind creative thinking and offer practical tips for cultivating creativity in our own lives. So, whether you’re an engineer, doctor, or ordinary employee, you can look forward to injecting more creativity into your daily routine and read on to discover the power of surprising sources of creativity.

Mundane Activities Can Inspire Creativity

Everyday experiences or routine activities like walking, cooking, or driving can spark new ideas. Here are a couple of examples I want to quote.

(A) Commuting

For many people, the daily commute is a necessary but tedious task. However, it can also be a source of inspiration. While sitting on a bus or train, or driving a car, our minds are free to wander. We might observe interesting people, unique buildings or landscapes, or overhear snippets of conversation that spark an idea. For example, the idea for the popular app “Uber” came about when one of the founders was stuck without a ride on a snowy night in Paris. When I was running short of time and could not listen to motivational speeches, I planned almost 60 minutes for listening to those inspiring talks during my cycling or morning walk. These ideas came to my mind when I was listening to background music in gymnasium. I thought, instead of this background music, I can listen the need-base speeches though handsfree.

(B) Cooking

Cooking is another activity that might seem mundane but can be a source of creative inspiration. When we’re cooking, we’re engaging all our senses — we’re smelling, tasting, feeling, and seeing the food we’re preparing. This sensory experience can spark new ideas or connections in our minds. Additionally, cooking often involves improvisation and experimentation, as we add or subtract ingredients or try new techniques. This experimentation can lead to innovative dishes or flavor combinations. For example, the famous chef Ferran Adria, known for his innovative cuisine at the restaurant El Bulli, got his start as a dishwasher and self-taught cook who experimented with new techniques and ingredients in his free time. Taking coconut water daily in the last few years might have not generated the idea if I had not listened to a podcast on the subject long ago.

Unexpected Connections

The cross-disciplinary thinking can sometimes lead to breakthrough ideas. Even unrelated ideas can inspire innovation. One of the largest refineries in India, now producing 140 brands of mangos. They never had unexpected thoughts about planting and creating organic farms since they were in the business of crude and petroleum only.

The creative process often involves connecting seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts. These unexpected connections can lead to innovative solutions and new insights that would not have been possible through traditional and linear thinking.

One example of unexpected connections in action is the invention of Post-it Notes. The inventor, Spencer Silver, was trying to create a strong adhesive, but instead created a weak one that didn’t stick well. It wasn’t until years later when another 3M employee, Art Fry, was frustrated with his bookmarks falling out of his hymnal during a choir practice that he realized the weak adhesive might be useful for creating temporary bookmarks. By combining the weak adhesive with small pieces of paper, Fry and Silver came up with the idea for Post-it Notes.

Another example is the invention of Velcro. Swiss engineer George de Mestral was inspired by the way burrs stuck to his dog’s fur during a walk. Intrigued, he examined the burrs under a microscope and discovered the tiny hooks that allowed them to stick. He then applied this principle to create a new type of fastener with interlocking hooks and loops, which he named Velcro.

These examples demonstrate the power of unexpected connections to inspire innovation. By looking at the world through a different lens and making connections between seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts, we can come up with new and creative solutions to problems.

To encourage unexpected connections in your creative process, try experimenting with different stimuli or brainstorming techniques. For example, you could try combining two unrelated words or images and seeing what ideas arise from the combination. Or you could try brainstorming solutions to a problem from the perspective of a completely unrelated field or profession. I created some of my book covers from chatGPT descriptions and Dall E2 image generation. The combinations gave me excellent covers.

By actively seeking out unexpected connections and embracing the potential for new insights and ideas, you can cultivate a more innovative and creative mindset.

Embracing Diversity

Different Perspectives lead to better Ideas. The diversity in creative thinking and problem-solving may outperform homogenous teams in creative tasks. Henry Ford was firm to produce the V8 engine when the team of engineers refused to work as it was impossible due to limitations.

He said,

“There is a way, but we do not know. If you are not able to do it, I will employ other engineers and complete the task.”

The V8 engine was, then, created by the same team.

In today’s increasingly interconnected and diverse world, it’s more important than ever to embrace diversity in all aspects of life, including creative thinking. This means seeking out and valuing perspectives and experiences that are different from our own, and actively working to include these perspectives in the creative process.

Research has shown that diverse teams are more effective at problem-solving and generating innovative ideas. When people with different backgrounds and viewpoints come together to solve a problem, they bring with them unique experiences, knowledge, and ways of thinking that can lead to breakthrough solutions.

However, simply having a diverse team is not enough. It’s important to create an environment that fosters open communication and respect for different opinions and viewpoints. This means encouraging everyone to speak up and share their ideas, even if they’re different from the mainstream or the majority view. It also means actively seeking out and valuing input from people who might normally be excluded or overlooked in the creative process.

By embracing diversity in creative thinking, we not only generate better ideas but also create a more inclusive and equitable world. We can challenge our own biases and assumptions and learn from people who have had different life experiences than us. Ultimately, this can lead to more innovative and effective solutions to the challenges we face, both in our personal lives and in the broader society.

Learning From Failure

Setbacks can spark new ideas. Failure and setbacks can be a source of creativity.

Many great companies and famous creatives have used failure as a source of inspiration.

Learning from failure is a critical aspect of generating good ideas from unexpected sources. When we fail, it can be easy to get discouraged or give up altogether.

Here are some key points to consider when it comes to learning from failure.

Reframe failure as an opportunity.

Instead of viewing failure as a negative outcome, try to reframe it as an opportunity for growth and learning. This shift in perspective can help you approach failure more constructively.

Analyse what went wrong.

When you experience a setback or failure, take the time to analyse what went wrong. What were the factors that contributed to the failure? What could you have done differently? This analysis can help you identify areas for improvement and prevent future failures.

Embrace experimentation.

Successful creatives understand that failure is often an inevitable part of the creative process. They view experimentation as a way to try out new ideas and concepts without fear of failure. By embracing experimentation and accepting the possibility of failure, you can create a more open and innovative mindset.

Take risks.

To generate truly novel ideas, you need to be willing to take risks. This means stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things, even if they seem unconventional or risky. Remember that failure is not the result; it’s simply a steppingstone on the path to success.

Keep trying.

Finally, it’s important to remember that failure is not permanent. Just because you experience a setback doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed in the future. Keep trying, keep experimenting, and don’t give up on your creative pursuits. With persistence and determination, you can generate good ideas from unexpected sources, even in the face of failure.

Mindfulness And Meditation

Slowing down can fuel creativity. Mindfulness and meditation practices can help us access our creativity if we incorporate mindfulness into our daily routines.

Let us discuss and elaborate on the topic of mindfulness and meditation and know how they can fuel creativity.

In recent years, mindfulness and meditation practices have gained popularity as tools for improving focus, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being. However, these practices can also have a profound impact on creativity. By slowing down and quieting the mind, we can access deeper levels of creativity and generate new ideas.

One way that mindfulness and meditation can help us access our creativity is by increasing our awareness of our thoughts and emotions. By paying attention to the present moment without judgment, we can become more attuned to our internal experiences and gain insight into our thought processes. This heightened self-awareness can help us break out of old patterns of thinking and generate new ideas.

Another way that mindfulness and meditation can fuel creativity is by promoting a state of relaxation and mental calm. When we are stressed or anxious, our minds tend to become cluttered and unfocused, making it harder to access our creative potential. By practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly, we can learn to quiet our racing thoughts and cultivate a sense of inner calm, which can help us tap into our creative flow.

Finally, mindfulness and meditation can help us cultivate a sense of openness and curiosity, which is essential for generating new ideas. By letting go of preconceptions and approaching situations with a beginner’s mind, we can become more receptive to new possibilities and explore different ways of thinking. This mindset can be particularly useful in situations where we feel stuck or blocked creatively.

Incorporating mindfulness and meditation practices into our daily lives can help us access deeper levels of creativity and generate new ideas from unexpected sources. Whether it’s through simple breathing exercises, guided meditations, or other mindfulness practices, taking time to slow down and tune into our inner experiences can be a powerful tool for unlocking our creative potential.


After going through the above points, you must have realized to cultivate creativity in your lives. Let me summarize the main ideas which can foster creativity and generate good thinking for favorable actions from unexpected sources.

Encourage experimentation.

One way to spark creativity is to try new things and experiment with different approaches. We can engage in activities outside our comfort zones, whether it’s learning a new skill, exploring a new hobby, or approaching a problem from a different angle.

Emphasize the importance of taking breaks.

Research has shown that taking breaks and giving our brains time to rest and recharge can boost creativity. We can have time for breaks throughout the day, whether it’s taking a short walk, practicing meditation, or simply stepping away from their work for a few minutes.

Advocate for diversity and inclusion.

We can seek out diverse perspectives and engage with people who have different backgrounds and experiences. This can help broaden their perspectives and lead to more creative thinking.

Promote mindfulness and self-care.

Mindfulness and self-care practices can help us reduce stress and cultivate a more positive mindset, both of which can fuel creativity. Let us find mindfulness practices that work for us, such as meditation, yoga, or journaling.

Failure is part of the creative process.

Creativity often involves taking risks and trying new things, which means that failure is inevitable. Embrace failure as part of the process and use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Find additional resources.

There are additional resources, such as books, podcasts, or online communities, where we can continue to learn about creativity and find inspiration.

A call to action

Finally, I want to encourage you to take the principles discussed here and apply them to your own lives. Share your own experiences and insights with others and continue exploring the many sources of creativity that exist around us.

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Former aircraft engineer IAF, Retired Branch Manager SBI, Psychologist, Best Selling Author & Defence Recruitment Trainer