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How I Become Creative by Spending 10 Minutes a Day to Exercise My Brain Muscle

How I Become Creative by Spending 10 Minutes a Day to Exercise My Brain Muscle

I still remember a time when I was around 6 years old, I drew a picture about me and my parents during art class. That was my first class and I could draw anything but I really wanted to draw my family and so I did. My other classmates drew something different, some drew animals, some drew ugly aliens, some drew pretty princesses. My teacher came to me and said, “Brian, you can be more creative next time.” And at that moment I thought, maybe I really wasn’t a creative person, and I thought maybe creativity was inborn.

As I grew up, this belief stuck with me until I read a book called It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Patrick O’Neill.  It convinced me that as long as I wanted to be more creative, I could train myself to be a creative person.

So I started to research more tips and tricks on creativity. There is a popular exercise in Improv Comedy called “Yes and”.[1] When one person comes up with a fairly simple idea, the other person responds by adding a smaller detail. So I took reference of this exercise and created an exercise that could stretch my creativity like workouts do for my muscles.

This exercise is perfect for anyone who lives a busy life with a full schedule. This is also great for anyone who works in an environment where tasks are fully instructed and novelty is not required. Even if you aren’t working in a creative field, training your creativity with this exercise will help you approach challenges and problems in bold and inventive ways.

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The exercise I’m going to introduce to you will only take you ten minutes a day to train up your creativity muscle.

I call this mental exercise, The Journey of A Man And A Dog.

Here’s how it goes…

First, imagine there’s a man and a dog.

Consider the relationship between them.

Where did the dog come from? How long has the man had the dog?

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What breed is the dog, and what might this breed suggest (for example a Greyhound might suggest things different than a poodle would).

Is the dog the man’s pet?  Is the man walking his dog in a park?

    After you’ve spent some time considering this, try to think about more possibilities.

    For example, maybe the man found the dog abandoned somewhere.

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    Why was the dog abandoned? How was the dog?

      Don’t be afraid to play with this idea, go in as many strange places you like. Maybe the man and dog are post-apocalyptic survivors exploring a wasteland? Maybe the dog is the more powerful and intelligent one in the relationship? All you need to do is keep adding to this.

      Try to be even more creative with fantasy elements.

      For example, maybe the man is a scientist and he’s planning to take the dog to the Mars to see if it can survive there.

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        Adding things to their relationship encourages you to think in ways different to how you would normally think. Thus developing your mental capacity to think in these new, creative ways.

        The exercise doesn’t always have to be about a man and a dog.

        If, for some reasons you find this limiting, you could consider:

        • a teacher and a student
        • a police officer and a criminal
        • a rich man and a homeless man
        • a spider and an old man
        • a man with a broomstick
        • a girl with a tattoo
        • … any possible relationship between two or more people is perfect.

        After a while you could even adapt this exercise to the real world.

        Look outside your window to the people walking past outside and try to think of the lives they lead. Try to come up with interesting or funny stories behind each person. It’s creatively stimulating and strangely fun!

        Before you know it your mind will become accustomed to thinking creatively, and you will naturally be used to flexing your creative muscle.

        Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

        100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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        Published on April 25, 2019

        How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

        How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

        Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

        Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

        Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

        Creativity.

        What is Creativity?

        When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

        Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

        Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

        From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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        For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

        Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

        That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

        Limitations are Actually Opportunities

        The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

        Let me illustrate with an example.

        On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

        However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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        At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

        It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

        This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

        I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

        To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

        My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

        But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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        “But daddy, is it important?”

        “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

        Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

        And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

        Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

        I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

        I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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        Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

        This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

        Creativity is One Key to Success

        When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

        Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

        Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

        So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

        Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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