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How To Get Your Inborn Creativity Back

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How To Get Your Inborn Creativity Back

Many people want to be more creative. But most of them also doubt if creativity is a gifted talent that cannot be learned. To find the truth, scientists did some experiments which results were astonishing and at the same time encouraging.

Creativity is indeed an inborn talent, and everyone has it

In 1968, George Land tested 1,600 children’s performance in a creativity test that was originally designed for NASA to recruit innovative scientists. The children were tested at different ages.

Test results

5 year olds who passed the test: 98%
10 year olds who passed the test: 30%
15 year olds who passed the test: 12%

Interestingly, there’s an obvious down trend: the older we are, the less creative we become.

Creativity is not a random gift that only belongs to the lucky minority; we all are gifted with creativity when we were born.

What happens, though, is that during our course of life, we start to “unlearn” our creativity.

Education is the murderer of creativity

Once we enter schools, our brains are stuffed with numbers and vocabulary. All these do not encourage creativity but conformity. Under the current education system, children learn to fulfil teachers’ expectations, pass the exams, and suppress their creative ideas.

Remember, the education system is so because it was designed 200 years ago in the Industrial Revolution to train people to be obedient. It may work well for factory workers, but not for us living in this dynamic world.

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So then, the question is: how get our inborn creativity back?

Creativity, as defined by Richard N. Foster, a lecturer in Yale, is “the ability to find associations between different fields of knowledge, especially ones that appear radically different at first” [1].

Years ago, phone, camera and computer are just three completely unrelated gadgets. But Steve Jobs thought they could be related and decided to combine them into a single device.

Creativity is really about making unexpected linkages.

And to train ourselves to make such linkages, there are exercises we can do on a daily basis.

The Two-word exercise 

In an experiment, neuroscientist Paul Howard Jones asked the subjects to create a story by combing relevant ideas, such as “brush”, “teeth”, and “shine”, and then create another story by combining irrelevant ideas, such as “cow”, “zip”, and “star”. Surprisingly, the stories created with irrelevant words are far more creative than the relevant ones [2].

To apply the study result of Jones’s experiment, we suggest you to start with two words first, instead of three.

Demonstration

Two words given:

  • Man      
  • Cat

First you can think about their relationship, and then think about the environment. Where are they? Are they in the same place or not?

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When you are creating the scenario, try to add more details. This would further boost your creativity.

Our example is:

“After his wife passed away, the cat became his only companion. Every night, when he feeds the cat, he would recall the time he spent with his lovely wife.”

You may find it hard at first. But don’t worry! You can begin with the following guiding questions:

  • What do they look like?
  • What is their interaction?
  • Any emotions triggered?
  • When they first meet each other, what do they say to each other?
  • In what places do they meet?
  • What is the smell, the sound, the temperature of the place?

Once you can create a scenario, you can challenge yourself to create more, let’s say four. We suggest five more examples as follows.

Remember don’t be afraid that your story is too crazy. Just catch whatever jumps up at your head.

When you finish, you can scroll down.

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Possible ideas:

  1. A high-school student has been bullied by his classmates. Every day when he sees the lonely cat around the corner when walking back home, he feels that he can understand her feelings very well.
  2. On one hot day, at lunch time a construction worker sat on the roof of the house he was working on. The person who hired him was a tycoon. The pet cat in this family looked snobby. She ate lavishly and even had her own big room. The construction worker looked at the cat, and wondered why even a cat led a better life than him.
  3. The cat had been spoiled so much by his master since she was brought from the pet store. However, one night an attractive woman came. And the cat felt that she could no longer get his master’s attention anymore.
  4. It rained heavily, and the stream was flooding heavily. A cat carelessly fell into the stream. A man while rushing back to collect the laundry saw the cat. He stopped, and hesitated whether he should jump into the stream to save the cat or not.

Now, since you have already successfully created four scenarios, you should aim higher!

We suggest you create ten scenarios out of two irrelevant ideas every day.

You may take 15 minutes every day, sit in a quiet room, and contemplate over the two ideas.

The time limit here is important, as you can only boost your creativity effectively, if you force yourself under time pressure.

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If you need help in generating irrelevant words, you may go to the following word generator: Random Word Generator.

Reference

[1] Yale Insight: What Is Creativity?
[2] The Huffington Post: 25 Ways To Be More Creative: Inc.

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Chris Cheung

Editorial Intern, Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 27, 2022

5 Unexpected Places to Boost Your Productivity

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5 Unexpected Places to Boost Your Productivity

The environment of a typical office or a quiet library may sometimes lessen your productivity as the unchanging views fail to stimulate your senses and keep your brain running. If you are the kind that dislikes absolute silence or minimal noise when working, these unexpected places to work may boost your productivity level!

1. Coffee shops

Research has shown that an adequate amount of ambient noise stimulates your senses and keeps you alert. Where else better to find some chatter and clatter to boost your creative juices? Working in the coffee shop also guarantees something else: unlimited supplies of caffeine!

Caffeine wakes you up by fooling adenosine receptors and speeds transmitting activities up in your nerve cells.If you do decide to try this place out, make sure that your work computer is facing the coffee shop customers so you will be less likely to procrastinate or go to inappropriate sites because people are secretly watching you.

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If your workplace requires you to be in the office, try this website and/or phone app that provides you with sounds from coffee shops around the world. Want to work at a cafe in Paris? No problem, it’s just a button away.

2. Cafeterias

Similar to coffee shops, company cafeteria or food courts provide consistent noise and the smell of food. The aroma of food makes you look forward to your next break and should motivate you to complete your work.

The act of eating likewise keeps your brain alert and produces dopamine. But make sure only to snack and stay around 60% full so that each bite is rewarding and invigorating. Snacking every 90 minutes should keep your brain balanced enough to focus on the work at hand.

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3. Empty University Classrooms  

Whether or not you’re an university student, we have all been a student at some point in our lives. And when you’re in a classroom, your brain is primed to stay focused because you have been conditioned to concentrate in class. In comparison to your bedroom, where your brain is primed to relax, sleep and have fun, the environment of the classroom triggers your memory to stay alert (unless you never listened in class) and work.

If you do decide to try working in an empty university classroom, be sure to bring a studious friend. Once you see that your friend or coworker is working hard, you would feel guilty for procrastinate and be more competitive.

Ever heard of environmental context-dependent memory? Research has shown that environmental context influences the way we encode information. If you study in the same place you first learned the material, your chances of recalling the information are significantly increased. Use environmental cues to your advantage so you spend less time doing more work!

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4. Outdoors

Fresh air, sunlight, cool breeze. Talk about getting your vitamin Ds the natural way. A healthy body is crucial to being productive. If you have a porch, use it to maximize your productivity!

On a cool day, the crisp air is good for waking your brain up. If your work station is indoors and poorly ventilated, the build up of carbon dioxide will cause your brain to be less active, hence, less productive. Try to bring some work to a park nearby or an unsheltered town square where you are exposed to the sun. Fresh air will vitalize your brain and the warm sunlight will bring a smile to your face.

5. The Shower 

Many people experience their “Aha!” moments when they’re in the shower. Why is that? The hot water helps with circulation and improves blood flow to your brain, giving it more oxygen and nourishment to break down your work block.

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If you aren’t motivated to work or feeling bored, a good shower will not only open up your pores, but also give your brain a boost of energy. Keep a waterproof white board and markers in the washroom so you will never lose those wonderful ideas again!

Featured photo credit: Thomas Franke via unsplash.com

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