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10 Ways To Let The Bud Of Creativity Blossom In Your Mind

10 Ways To Let The Bud Of Creativity Blossom In Your Mind

Creativity in contemporary culture has been cast up on a pedestal as an illusive pursuit meant only for “creative types”. Creativity requires our brains to make new connections between previously unconnected ideas and nearly everyone is born with this capability. How many truly uncreative children have you encountered? Probably not many (if any!) So the assertion that you’re simply not “the creative type” doesn’t make sense at all. You are! It’s just that your creative capacity has been struggling to breathe and grow in the vacuum that it’s been placed into.

Your creativity might seem shriveled and dry now, but here are ten specific ways to breathe new life into your creative self.

1. Embarrass yourself.

The fear of embarrassment or shame is what keeps people from being creative. You have to be willing to make a mistake, fail and look silly. In college I took an actin class that was very physical (pretending to be monkeys and things like that). At first I was so embarrassed that I would be sweaty and gross if I committed to the physicality of the exercises, but only when I decided the embarrassment was worth the creative gain did I really reach a new level of skill and freedom.

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2. Write by hand. A lot.

In a culture that is continually moving more toward the digital, it is not hard to go a whole day without writing anything down by hand. Heck! I make my grocery lists on my phone these days. But scientists have clearly proven that there is a strong connection between writing by hand and retaining information and generating ideas. The simple practice of slowly committing your hand to writing down your thoughts will over time foster new ideas that allow you to be more creative.

3. Pick a new hobby.

Learn to knit. Take piano lessons. Try your hand at water colors. Picking something that you’re unfamiliar with and struggling to learn a new skill helps to create healthy new pathways in your brain. The act of learning a low commitment creative act will breed confidence if your inner creative-self.

4. Play with a child.

The next time you get the opportunity to engage with a young child, really do it. Don’t halfheartedly race cars with your nephew, but learn from him! If he wants to play doctor commit to your role as a wounded sailor. Taking play seriously. Children have no inner sensor that keeps them from breaching social norms, and they create with more abandon than most adults. Learn from the creative abandon of the children in your life.

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5. Schedule it.

It may seem counter intuitive, to put ‘creative time’ on your weekly calendar, but it is unrealistic to assume that you will suddenly be able to channel creativity all day every day. By designating a specific time every week (or several times a week!) to be creative you are helping yourself follow through and be intentional about your creative endeavors. Plus, marking it on the calendar will make you more likely to actually do the deed!

6. Keep a notebook with you.

Keep a notebook handy with you at all times to encourage yourself to capture those unpredictable creative thoughts. Write down ideas, funny quotes, doodles and sketches. Make this notebook a judgement free place where you can hold all of those little creative glimpses that shimmer through our days.

7. Take yourself on a date.

Julia Cameron, author of the book The Artist’s Way stresses the importance of taking your inner-artist on a date. Take your creative self somewhere that will feed your creativity. Go to a museum! Go to a play! Take a coloring book and go to a local coffee shop! There are countless ways to take yourself on an artists date.

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8. Move your body.

Get up from the computer screen, turn off the t.v., leave your sketch book at home and work up some sweat. Go for a brisk 20 minute walk. Turn your music up loud and dance it out. Moving your body will help to break up the monotony of your day and the monotony of your thought processes. Regular exercise will lead to a more creative life.

9. Make lists.

List making might seem like an entirely uncreative act, but making lists will actually trigger unconscious connections and help you to generate new ideas. I’m not talking about a grocery list, but lists of ideas, memories, likes or dislikes. Creating a massive like of things you love will not only help you be more creative but it will help you learn about yourself as you see patterns arise in the things you write down.

10. Let yourself be bored.

I run from boredom like the plague. Any lull in my day I whip out my phone and scroll various social media outlets to keep my brain from sensing even a whiff of boredom. But if we let ourselves be bored we are giving our minds space to daydream. As they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ so if your mind is not being constantly filled with outside stimulus it will be forced to create it’s own stimulus.

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Don’t run from your creative self because of fear. Everyone is insecure. Just lug your insecurity along with you and allow yourself to be vulnerable anyway. Engaging in these ten things will help you explore your creative self and grow in your creativity.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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