How Constraints Force Your Brain To Be More Creative

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It is very human to run from constraints and run towards comfort, it is very human to have a sentiment against anything “constraining” and be sentimental towards anything that is ‘freeing” in effect. While many have argued over the years about the extreme demerits of constraints, several on the other hand have pitched their tents with the relative few who believe that there is more merit in constraints for the brain than demerits.

But science seems to disagree with the assumption of demerits and agree with merits giving certain reasons which we will consider in another part of this article. While science has facts to prove that the brain is always on an “energy” saving mission, always seeking for means to do less, think less and it usual requires a catalyst to move the brain from kinetic energy to potential energy.

Studies have shown that constraints have an effect that is more productive than destructive, the emergence of new products, new techniques, and product innovations are as a result of constraints, the following points will show how

Constraints opens the brain up to better options

It has been discovered that the mere existence of constraints switches the brain to a binary system of thought, with restraints there is just one choice left the brain other than the constraints, so every option is limited. Examples include a rodent placed in a box with the door shut, if such animal could think, he knows he will be left with just two options which are freedom or captivity, inside or outside, run or stay, what this does using humans as an example is that constraints gets the brain to ‘exploration mode’, just like the rat you either shut out of escaping thereby giving in to constraints or explore a better option.

Constraints allows for new ideas to be realised

There are actually many options of doing things and only constraints can make certain individuals become aware of such realities, as a matter of fact the concept called innovation is always a product of constraints, for many years a foldable device was only a stuff reserved for fantasy based movies until year 2016 when LG electronics introduced a very flexible screen which can be folded up like a daily journal when it is done with, without the constraint of rigid non- folding screen a new product won’t be created, a new option won’t be explored.

Constraints shatter conventions

The emergence of the modern technological trend called UX (user experience) is a testament that indeed constraints shatter conventions. The use of autonomous vehicles has relegated the many years of horse driven carriages, steam propelled car engines into oblivion suitable only for history books, but transportation wasn’t always fun and seamless, for the likes of Henry ford, movement of people, goods and services was becoming quite challenging which is a major quality of a constraints but looking beyond and around ways of doing things better trained him and led him and the automobile industry to different improvements. Today the industry has moved from petrol dependent cars to electric cars to autonomous vehicles.

User experience is not particular to the automobile industry alone; it has found same expression in health, mobile telecommunications inventions etc.  

Constraints always lead to something new

For Steve jobs, computers were so large, difficult to handle and extremely klutzy, with no existing model of the “new type” of computers which he had in mind: this was a major constraint to the father of modern and beautiful designed computers. The same challenge that held back IBM and other tech giants became a propelling factor for Apple computers.   

The success of apple computers is a testament that new solutions, new frontiers and new discoveries are often the product of constraints or they arise when the individual trains the brain to see beyond constraints. constraints will always lead to something new, all the quest and process of working on  the idea trains the brain to do better every time.

In conclusion, it is no news that rings worn on the finger can be used as bottle openers or book covers used as dust pans and the list is endless. From life hacks to sports, from business to inventions, from science to the medicals, all of humans advancement in a growing world can be owed to the presence of constraints that was bypassed or overcame and as an old science law states ‘whatever is used grows and become specialized, whatever isn’t used in nature dies and becomes extinct, it is therefore actually possible to train the brain to see through constraints, to see impossibility as possibility, to see can’t do as can do and to understand the different way of doing things. 

About the author

manoj pathania

Manoj Pathania is a designer/front-end developer with 8+ years of experience. Other than front-end coding, he loves to write on design trends. He can be reached at

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