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If You Have Many Different Sides, You Might Have A Creative Brain, Here’s Why

If You Have Many Different Sides, You Might Have A Creative Brain, Here’s Why

“If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an ‘individual,’ each of them is a ‘multitude.’” Said psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi after more than 30 years of observing creative people.

The right brain myth

Many forward thinking neuroscientists have investigating what actually happens in the brain during the creative process. What they have found out through their studies and observations is that the right brain/left brain distinction is somewhat outdated; moreover, it does not provide a complete picture of how creativity comes to be.

Creativity does not require the involvement of one brain region or one side of the brain. Rather it requires the interaction of many cognitive (conscious and unconscious) and emotional processes. The creative process starts with preparation, moves on to incubation, then illumination and through to verification.

Barron’s study

In the 1960s, psychologist and creativity researcher  Frank X. Barron conducted a serious of experiments to try and find out what causes creative genius. Barron gathered a group of high-profile creative people, including; writers, architects, scientists, entrepreneurs and mathematicians and invited them to spend several days living at the Berkely campus of the University of California.

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Barron discovered that intelligence played a small role in creative thinking and that IQ alone did not explain the creative spark. Through his study Barron found that creativity was informed by intellectual, emotional, motivations and moral characteristics.

Barron isolated certain traits that were common to various individuals from different disciplines. These traits included:

“an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos; independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks.”

Based on these findings Barron wrote that creative genius was “both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner, than the average person.”

The three networks

The creative process can be said to involve three networks: the imagination network; the executive attention network; and the salience network. As Carolyn Cregorie Scott and Barry Kaufman explain in their article:

“The creative brain is particularly good at flexibly activating and deactivating these brain networks, which in most people are at odds with each other. In doing so, they are able to juggle seemingly contradictory modes of thought – cognitive and emotional, deliberate and spontaneous. This allows them to draw on a wide range of strengths, characteristics and thinking styles in their work.”

Let us take a closer look at how each of these networks work.

The imagination network

Neuroscientist Randy Buckner and his colleagues  state that the imagination network (also known as the default network) is involved in: “constructing dynamic mental simulations based on personal past experiences such as used during remembering, thinking about the future, and generally when imagining alternative perspectives and scenarios to the present.”

This network is also involved in  social cognition. If, for example, we are trying to imagine what someone else it thinking, or put another way, see things from their perspective, we activate this network. It is also used to reflect on our own emotional state as well as the emotional state of others.

The imagination network was first identified by neurologist Marcus Raichle in 2001; it engages many regions on the medial (inside) surface of the brain in the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes.

The executive network

The brain’s executive network is in charge of controlling our attention and working memory. It enables us to focus our imagination and direct our attention to our inner experience without getting distracted by external stimuli.

This network is called into action when a task requires intense and accurate attention. This network is activated when, for example we are trying to understand a complicated lecture, or attempting to solve an involved problem. The areas of the brain that make up this network are the lateral (outer) regions of the prefrontal cortex and areas toward the back (posterior) of the parietal lobe.

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The salience network

The salience network monitors external events and the internal stream of consciousness. The regions of the brain involved in this network are the dorsal anterior cingulate cortices [dACC] and anterior insular [AI]. The salience network is important for dynamic changing between networks.

Summation

Various stages of the creative process require different patterns of neural activations and deactivations. Sometimes it is useful for the networks to work in unison, aiding one another, however at other times it is best if the networks do it alone. What is important, however is to do away with the outdated right/left brain model of creativity and to seek to gather a more complex understanding of the intricate dance that the various networks do alone and together. 

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

How to Quit Your Boring Life and Start Living an Interesting One

We are given life with many opportunities to make it everything we want it to be and more. If you find that you’ve slipped into living a boring life, it’s time to take a hard look at what you’ve been doing and what you can start doing now to make it more interesting.

Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing and living the same life for too long, or maybe your daily routine is limiting your growth and happiness. Whatever your reason is, the following list can definitely make any day or life more interesting. Some of them are silly, while some are more meaningful, so hopefully just reading the list makes your life less boring and sparks your creativity.

Let’s dive in the list to quit your boring life and start living an interesting (and meaningful) one!

1. Channel Your 7-Year-Old Self

Imagine being a young child. Life was never boring, was it? That’s because children harness every ounce of creativity they have in order to try new things.

What would your 7-year-old self want to do in this moment? Maybe they’d pick up a paintbrush and try to paint the landscape around them. May they would go outside and build something with random materials around the yard. Maybe they would raid the fridge and put together a dish they’ve never seen before.

Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean any of this stuff will be less enjoyable than you remember it. Give yourself permission to play and use your creativity to its fullest.

2. Go Play With Kids

Speaking of little kids, if you have your own (or a niece or nephew), go play with them!

Kids are absolutely hilarious, so it’s simply impossible to be bored when you’re around them. They also keep things so simple, and we can really stand to be reminded of this and stop allowing ourselves to get bogged down in boring details.

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3. Play Cell Phone Roulette

You’ll need at least one buddy for this, but this is a great way to avoid a boring life. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, stop on a random one, and (if it feels right) call the person.

You could spark an incredible catch-up session or, at the very least, remind someone that you’re thinking of them. Neither are boring.

4. Fill out a Pack of Thank-You Cards

This is a great part of a gratitude practice. We often forget to thank the people who do things for us, especially if we have come to expect those things. For example, have you ever thought about thanking your mom for that weekly phone call? Or thanking your sister for always sending you a homemade gift on your birthday?

Take time to think of at least 5 people you would like to say thank you to and write out a card. You could even write them out for random people in your neighborhood, like the local librarian, a teacher at your child’s school, or the accountant at your bank.

Anyone and everyone appreciates being thanked for their efforts.

5. Sign up for a Class

Nowadays, there are classes for everything. To make it as interesting as possible, try finding one that you wouldn’t normally consider doing, like salsa lessons, improv, or boxing.

Otherwise, try to find a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, like pottery, photography, or a foreign language course.

What’s good about joining an interest class is that you will also meet new people, which will add even more interest to your life!

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6. Talk to Your Grandparents About Their Lives

We often underestimate how interesting the elderly are. You can rest assured that any elderly person you talk to will not have had a boring life! Take some time to talk to them and hear their interesting stories. You may even find that this motivates you to go out and find your own interesting experiences.

7. Get up on Stage at an Open Mic Night

Whether you’re funny or not, get up on stage. If you’re not into comedy, find an open mic that focuses on reading poetry or short stories and bring your own. These groups tend to be incredibly supportive for anyone who is willing to be brave enough to get up and try.

8. Do Something for Someone Else

Showing kindness automatically makes you feel good, but doing these small acts will also help to ensure that you don’t have a boring life. Try doing one or two things each week that are outside your normal routine.

For example, you could make a batch of cookies for the mailperson or help your elderly neighbor organize one of their rooms. There are a million ways to show kindness to those around you. Tap into your creativity and find your own or use some of the ideas from the image below[1].

Do random acts of kindness to avoid living a boring life.

    9. Start a DIY Project in Your Home

    If you have your own place, there is always a project that needs to get done. Many people simply pay for someone else to do it in order to avoid the hassle, but taking on a DIY project can make a boring life much more interesting.

    It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Maybe you repaint an old vase or build a spice shelf out of used pallets.

    If you need ideas, you can also check out these 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of.

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    10. Plan a Weekend Trip or an All-Out Vacation

    This will give you something to look forward to. One study actually found that most travelers are happiest before a vacation[2]. Therefore, simply planning a trip will boost your mood, even if you can’t actually take the vacation right now.

    Even if you don’t have the time or money to go on a vacation, plan for a staycation, which is also fun and relaxing!

    11. Go People Watching

    Find a bench in a crowded area (centers of transportation like airports, bus stops, and train stations are great for this!) and just observe[3].

    People are infinitely interesting. Try to imagine what their lives are like, what they’re thinking, or where they’re going. You’ll never know if you’re right, but it will give you something to focus on and also help you practice empathy.

    12. Eat Something You’ve Never Eaten Before

    You can try that new Moroccan restaurant down the street and pick the most interesting dish on the menu. Or, you can raid your own fridge and throw together a dish you’ve never made before.

    If you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try picking up a new fruit or veggie from the produce section. You may find a new food that you love!

    13. Dance

    You can get your friends together for a night on the town or just pull up a video on YouTube and bust a move from your own living room.

    If you’re feeling extra brave, you can even dance in public or join a flash mob.

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    14. Pick up a Book and Start Reading

    Reading a good book can keep you occupied for hours. It will also transport you to a life that isn’t your own, and one that likely will be the opposite of a boring life. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn from those pages.

    Pick on of these inspirational books to start reading: 10 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

    15. Spend Some Time With People You Care About

    Facebook stalking doesn’t count as real social interaction. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while, or bring a coffee over to your parent’s place and catch up. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and you’ll avoid boredom.

    16. Check out a Museum You’ve Never Been to

    Some people are bored by museums, so if that’s you, skip to the next one. However, if you love art, history, or culture, this one is for you!

    17. Write a List of Things You Desire and Truly Want

    This is a great way to help you figure out the real reason why you’re feeling bored about your life. Maybe you haven’t really done things that you truly enjoy? Maybe what you’ve wanted to do all the time has been left behind?

    Think about the list of things you really want to do, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing these things (yet). Then, start taking your first step to make it happen.

    Now, go make your life interesting and live your dream life!

    More on How to Quit a Boring Life

    Featured photo credit: Alex Alvarez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] FECAVA: Random Acts of Kindness
    [2] Applied Research in Quality of Life: Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday
    [3] Psychology Today: The Expert’s Guide to People Watching

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