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The Ultimate Guide: How to Become More Creative Day by Day

The Ultimate Guide: How to Become More Creative Day by Day

We all start our lives as creative individuals, but somewhere along the way we start to lose our ability to see things in a new light. In other words, our creativity withers and dies. If you’ve ever wished you were better at coming up with ideas, you might have wondered how this happens. Believe it or not, our school system plays a huge role in squashing creativity. It gives us a good grounding in facts and theories, but it doesn’t encourage divergent or lateral thinking skills. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are too quick to say, “Oh, I’m not a creative person!” Don’t worry, though, because you can get your creativity back. Follow the tips in this article and you’ll soon find your idea engine starting to rev.

What is creativity?

Most of us share the same basic idea about creativity. We tend to think of it as coming up with new concepts, or finding new angles in any given situation. However, it can be helpful to think of creativity as connecting various experiences together, and simply making links between them. The broader and richer your life experiences, the more dots you can join, and the more ideas you can generate. For example, a visual artist might come up with an idea for a painting based on their experience with depression (one “dot”) and their exposure to abstract painting (another “dot). The result? A highly emotive, effective piece of art.

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Signs you’re a creative person

You are probably more creative than you realize. Did you know that there are subtle and not-so-subtle signs that suggest you might be an especially creative person? For example, if you like to wear outlandish socks, you are in good company. Research shows that those favoring this kind of footwear are more brilliant, creative and successful than those who stick with regulation black and navy. Your moods and mental health are also clues. Depression may be a terrible, crippling experience, but scientists have found a link between depression and creativity. Specifically, creative people tend to see the world in way that differs from the norm, and can see a myriad of possibilities and shades of gray. This can trigger a sense of being overwhelmed by the outside world. Finally, those who stay up and get up late are more likely than early risers to be more creative. If you tend to hit the snooze button repeatedly, it may just be because you are more creative than average!

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Can we train ourselves to be more creative?

In short, yes! If you don’t understand that creativity is the ability to join up two or more experiences, and that this is a skill that can be learned, you may conclude that some people are simply born more creative than others. Worse, this belief can even become an excuse for not trying. After all, if you are either born creative or you aren’t, there’s no point in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The truth is simple – when you commit to becoming a better problem-solver and force yourself to look at the world in a new light, you will inevitably become more creative as long as you are willing to make the effort.

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How to largely boost your creativity

If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know quite how to begin restoring your creativity, try a simple two-word exercise that will remind you how brilliant you are at making new links and associations between two concepts! Another way to ease yourself back into a creative mindset is to appreciate the work of others. Read a short story, listen to an inspiring piece of music, or look at some mind-bending paintings. There are literally dozens of ways to fuel your creativity. If the first few techniques you try don’t work for you, experiment with something else. You might need to do some inner work first, because fear can be a big barrier to trying new things. A fear of failure is common, because we have been raised in such an achievement-oriented society. If this sounds familiar, why not write down what you fear will happen, and how you would deal with it? For example, if you are afraid of other people labeling you “silly” or “foolish” for trying to be creative, remind yourself that you can always choose to hang out with more positive people instead!

Travel as much as possible. Remember, the more life experience you accumulate, the more creative you will become. Travel truly is an investment in yourself. Even if you can’t afford the time or money needed for a long vacation, why not take a day trip to a local attraction? Switch things up at home too. Take a new route to work, try a new sandwich for lunch, and take up a new hobby in the evenings instead of watching TV. Go outside and immerse yourself in the real world!

Finally, you can even use your negative life experiences as a basis for creative expression. You don’t have to be angst-ridden to be creative, but some of the most compelling artwork has emerged from great suffering. Identify your negative emotions,and divert them away from yourself. Solving a creative problem enables you to get into a state of “flow,” which is where the real magic happens. Lose yourself in writing, dance, painting, or any other creative pursuit that feels right to you. Remember that there are no perfect people, and that judging yourself harshly won’t help. Work on becoming a more creative person, and your overall quality of life is bound to improve. You will feel more interested in the world around you, and more accepting of your true, creative self.

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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