Five ways to boost your creativity

4 Feb

Last week everyone at my work place underwent a training course on creativity.  Inspired by the day I decided to post some tips on how to boosts yours.

1. Remember, everyone can be creative. Yes, the idea that some people are born with an innate talent is incredibly attractive , especially if you believe yourself to be one of those lucky few.  But it’s a big lie.

Creativity is mainly about the ability to think flexibly, and that is a skill that can be learned.  It’s up to you to decide to practice it.  All you need to do is learn about flexible thinking, then practice, practice, practice.

2.  Exercise, body and mind. Your mind is the only tool you have in your creativity.  Make sure it is healthy and well exercised.  Never underestimate the link between physical and mental health.

It is amazing the amount of creative people I know who come up with their best ideas while the conscious is engaged in a physical activity i.e. brushing their teeth, taking a shower, walking.  Physical activity gives the subconscious time to work on all those problems you’ve been storing up.

3. DON’T think outside the box. There is a reason the boxes are there.  We live in a random, violent and utterly confusing world, the boxes help us make sense of it , and stop us going mad.  Don’t go mad.  Just think bigger box.

There is a now a well known story in which NASA spends thousands of dollars developing a pen that can work in space, as normal pens can’t work in zero gravity.  The Russians, instead of thinking “pen” thought in a bigger box “writing implement” and just used a pencil.

4.  Keep a scrapbook or note book.  Whatever works for you, because you know that bright idea you’ve had just now will be out your head and away with the wind in a few seconds.

I also like to note down song lyrics, phrases I hear people use, headlines from papers and any words I come across that spark my imagination.  In this way you create springboards which you can return to should you be feeling a little creatively low.

5.  Sleep. There may be a lot of writer/artists/musicians/creatives who stayed up late and suffered from insomnia, but generally you find they were creative despite it, not because of it.

Any research you care to read about sleep will tell you about it’s importance.  The loss of one hours sleep for an 11 year-old has them slipping to the academic equivalent of an nine-year old. Image what that does to you at your age.

Sleep gives your body a chance to rest and repair.  But crucially it also gives your brain a chance to do the same.  All those crazy dreams you have.  That’s your brain sorting through your concious and trying to make sense of it.  When your asleep you brain no longer has to deal with the minutia of the day-to-day so again, spends some time on those probelms you store up.

Dali used to go to sleep on a couch holding a spoon in his right hand, below the hand, there would be a plate.  As he fell into his deepest sleep and started to dream, he would let go of the spoon, the noise it made falling against the plate would wake him.  Whatever dreams were left imprinted on his brain, he painted.

Sleep is when you are the most creative.  Sleep.

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