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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

The Power of Tapping into Your Hidden Creativity

The Power of Tapping into Your Hidden Creativity

Despite what you might have been taught — everyone can be creative.

It’s too easy to think of creativity as just being reserved for musicians, artists and writers. In reality, creativity can be used in all jobs and in all areas of life.

I’m referring to creative traits such as thinking outside the box, finding new solutions to old problems, and combining two ideas to invent a new one.

For example, think of Henry Ford. He gave people automobiles, when at that time, they probably just wanted faster horses!

And, then there is Elon Musk. He found a workable solution to the problem of congested roads in towns and cities — the Hyperloop! This is an underground tunnel system that is designed to connect major conurbations using clean, ultra-fast capsules that can carry passengers, cars and freight. In the case of cars — Musk envisages elevators taking the cars down to the tunnel system. Ingenious.

As a final example, I want to tell you about Saltwater Brewery in Florida. They’ve created six-pack rings that are edible by marine life. So instead of the six-pack rings ending up in the ocean and killing sea creatures, these rings actually feed them. They’re made from the by-products of beer brewing, and contain either barley or wheat, and are not just safe for fish to eat — but humans can eat them too!

Let’s turn now to see how improving your creativity can improve your life.

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Creativity Will Improve Your Outlook

As a Psychology Today article reveals, people who practice everyday creativity (like finding new ways to work, preparing meals and solving crosswords) share personality traits with those we regard as ‘genuinely’ creative, such as: artists, designers and musicians.[1]

The shared traits include:

  • Curiosity
  • Drive
  • Open-mindedness
  • Persistence
  • Positivity

Some studies also suggest that people who regularly indulge in creative pursuits are less judgmental and more flexible.

It’s no wonder then, that there is a proven link between creativity and enhanced mental health (this could be due to creative thinkers’ superior problem-solving skills).[2]

I hope I’ve said enough to convince you that exploring your creative side can improve your outlook on life.

So what’s the best way to get creative? 

Boost your confidence.

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When you have ample self-confidence, you won’t be afraid to try new things and to break out of your comfort zone. Both of these things will put you in touch with your inner creative genie — who’s just waiting to work their magic on your behalf!

But, how can you boost your confidence? 

…by constantly facing and overcoming challenges.

Creativity Will Increase Opportunities

Creative individuals often notice more opportunities in life.

How come?

Because they’ve learned how to find a way to turn any obstacle into an opportunity by tackling it from another angle. They’re also more likely to SEE the opportunity in the first place, just by having an open mind; whereas someone who is not tapping into their creativity may miss these hidden opportunities. 

For example, one of my friends recently lost his job as a senior administrator for an insurance company. He’d worked there for more than 10 years, and although he wasn’t excited by the job, it paid his bills.

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When he was told that his job was to go, he was initially shocked and knocked off track. However, my friend is a resilient and creative soul, and within a few days, he’d formulated a plan to not only secure a new job, but also to make a positive change in his career. He did this by taking his administrator skills and his deep knowledge of finance and insurance and turning himself into a business consultant.

It’s still early days for him, but he’s already secured several clients, and I predict his new career will be a happy and successful one.

If you feel stuck in a rut, then try some (or all) of these things to break yourself free:

  • Get moving – yes, staying still is staying stuck; moving is getting unstuck!
  • Look for the positives – when you do this, you’ll open the door to opportunities.
  • Start small – you don’t necessarily need to make a big jump; instead, you can make small changes that create an unstoppable forward trend.

Creativity Gives You Freedom to Mess Up

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

I love that quote, as it cleverly demonstrates that creativity is all about experimentation. And, experimentation often means making mistakes!

If you’ve ever watched a graphic designer at work, you’ll notice one thing: they’re constantly changing things until they get the look and feel that they desire.

That’s how most creative people work. They keep trying new and different things until they have that aha moment.

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So how about you? 

Are you currently afraid to try new things? Perhaps because you’re worried about losing face? 

If you are, then you’re holding back your creative potential. To unleash it, I recommend throwing caution to the wind and pushing yourself through your self-created mental barriers.

Once you’ve learned to have thoughts and ideas that are free from your current conditioning, then you’ll have learned the secret to living a creative life.

We all have creativity within us. And, by adopting the suggestions above, you can tap into this hidden force for good. When you do that, your life will take on a new trajectory — one that leads to happiness, fulfillment and success.

Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Everyday Creativity
[2] CNN: A Creative Life is a Healthy Life

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on June 7, 2021

How To Overcome Creative Blocks When Feeling Stuck

How To Overcome Creative Blocks When Feeling Stuck

In the age of AI, creativity is one of the things that can (still) give us humans an advantage over machines. The assumptions are that AI would do most simple jobs within a couple of decades, and those creative human abilities will be even more necessary. Being creative is helpful for everyone. It’s not only artists and other professionals who need to develop new ideas each day, such as creative directors. The good news is that most of us are born with creative capabilities. The bad news—some of us experience creative blocks and lose some creativity along the way.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, “most people are born creative. But over time, a lot of us learn to stifle those impulses. We become warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical.”[1] I’m here to help you get them back and perhaps also improve your abilities.

Creativity is defined as “the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.”[2] According to a survey of more than 1500 CEOS (in 33 industries and 60 countries), creative traits are more important than discipline, intelligence, and other traits traditionally considered more important by managers.[3]

In this article, I’m going to explore the reasons that get people stuck when they need to become creative and how to unstuck yourself. Albert Einstein said that “Creativity is intelligence having fun!” So, let’s start having fun by solving this huge creativity problem!

The First Problem to Notice: Control Your Emotions

The first step is understanding that you’re not alone and that this is a common issue for many creators. Even the most brilliant minds in history struggled with creative blocks before coming up with their ideas. Whether it’s innovative products (such as Thomas Edison’s lightbulb) or creative art, getting to it was not easy.

There are many ways to improve your creativity, and for some people, it might be the emotional issue that is bothering them.

Being creative in some cases means getting out of your comfort zone. It means thinking about things you did not think about in the past, and that’s not always easy. In fact, this is super hard. This can sometimes lead to internal objection, and that can lead to procrastination. As humans, we don’t like doing things that are not familiar to us. Creatures of habits, and for some, getting out of your comfort zone means a big emotional toll.

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Learning to control your emotions is helpful for many other reasons, and from many user interviews that I personally conducted, it is exhilarating. People feel powerful and invincible, and it also helps them become more creative.

Let’s go over some specific emotions that might trouble you:

Self-Efficacy

For some, it is the feeling of lack of self-efficacy. It’s the feeling of not being good enough, which relates to the fear of being criticized. Being creative also means being out there and open to criticism. Just being aware of that is the beginning of the solution.

The Tendency Toward Perfectionism

In some cases, when something is not perfect, we don’t want to show it to anyone because we care how it reflects on us. This is one reason that Y Combinator—the leading startup accelerator in the US—has this famous saying that if you are happy with your first version of the product, then you waited too long. There are many reasons for that, but one of them is the rationale “just act.” Put yourself out there and get feedback.

In other cases, such as writing or artworks, it is a little bit different. There are some upsides to perfectionism, of course, such as getting to the bottom of each problem until it’s solved. In some cases, that can help boost creativity, and like in everything else, it’s a matter of balance.[4]

Feeling Overwhelmed

For some, the issue is feeling overwhelmed. Indeed, having too many commitments or having too many ideas or thoughts can also be a problem. In this case, the solution is cutting out and learning to say no. If too many ideas are the issue, just starting with one is sometimes a good solution.

Feeling Stuck

This feeling consists of returning to the same loops you already have in your mind. You have your way of viewing the world, a problem, or a specific situation you’re handling that you can’t have different thoughts than you already came up with. In this case, you can actively think on your premises. You can perhaps ask yourself, “what would ___ say?”, work from a different place, or listen to music that inspires you.

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I will go over potential additional solutions toward the end of this article as some solutions can help more than one problem. In short, some solutions for this problem category include meditation, mindfulness, and creating a routine.

Another Angle: Cognitive Improvement

There are some studies on the neuroscience of creativity. For those of you wondering, the part of the brain triggered when you’re creative is called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This part is in charge of someone’s self-worth and self-critique. These, in turn, make us conform to social norms, so our brain protects us from being different and therefore creative and unique. This means that when you’re least aware of yourself, you’re more creative.[5]

Emotions are crucial for anything you need to do, and a potentially another way to improve your creativity would be examining your cognitive abilities and processes. One way to improve your creative process goes way back to Graham Wallas’ model, which is still being taught today, although it was created over a century ago. It is simple and can still provide tons of value today. If you feel like going over other processes, you can Google creative process models and find many new ones based on this one.

Wallas’ model has four stages:[6]

  1. Preparation – In this stage, the focus is on research. Learning about the problem being solved or articulated in every possible way.
  2. Incubation – According to Wallas, this is “Voluntary abstention from conscious thought on any problem may, itself, take two forms: the period of abstention may be spent either in conscious mental work on other problems or in a relaxation from all conscious mental work.” According to Wallas, an English psychologist, the first option is better because it is a better time. Many psychologists these days speak on the importance of being bored in thinking about new ideas.
  3. Illumination – In today’s words, this is what we call the a-ha! moment. Wallas says that you shouldn’t expect an idea right away: “If we so define the Illumination stage as to restrict it to this instantaneous ‘flash,’ it is obvious that we cannot influence it by a direct effort of will.” The good news is that the idea uncovers itself at some point. You can be in the shower, during a walk, or doing something else and have this Eureka moment.
  4. Verification – That’s the part in which the idea gets done—where you are developing the idea you came up with.

Please note that these stages don’t necessarily happen linearly every time.

Let’s Get Physical

After understanding your heart and brain, let’s get familiar with the rest of your body that can help you improve your creative abilities and get past creative blocks.

Meditation and Mindfulness

According to Harvard Business Review, leading companies such as Google and Goldman Sachs introduce meditation mindfulness practices to their employees’ routines. According to researchers, “executives at these and other companies say meditation is not only useful as a stress-reduction tool but can also enhance creativity, opening doors where once there seemed to be only a wall.”[7] They tested the effectiveness of meditation and found that 10 to 12 minutes of meditation can boost creativity.

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Take Six Showers a Day

This one might sound a little bit silly, but rest assured, there’s a good explanation. Aaron Sorkin, known for the many wonderful tv shows he wrote, said that he sometimes takes 6 showers a day.

“I’m not a germaphobe; it’s kind of a do-over,” he said. “Writer’s block is like my default position. When I’m able to write something, that’s when something weird is going on.”[8]

For him, the process of changing his environment and mood is helpful to this creative state. You don’t have to shower so many times a day, but sitting behind your desk all day long might not be the best way to let your creative side unleash itself.

Treat Yourself Right

Sleeping and resting are also very important. There’s not much more to say here, just a reminder to all of us working too hard that if we want to overcome creative blocks, we need enough rest.

Walk to Be 60% More Creative!

According to Stanford research, “creative thinking improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter.” This interesting research claims that “walking indoors or outdoors similarly boosted creative inspiration. The act of walking itself, and not the environment, was the main factor. Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting”. The numbers were astonishing. Creativity is boosted by 60% while and after walking![9]

Other Suggestions

Create a Routine and Improve Processes

According to another HRB article, “If a team is creatively blocked, the first step for managers is to examine whether the processes that surround people are holding them hostage in their thinking.”[10]

The goal is to create an environment of psychological safety that can arouse creativity by understanding that it is okay to suggest any idea. Some of the most interesting ideas sound dumb at first. Another important note is that teams with a growth mindset atmosphere can be more creative.

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Keep a Notebook

Ideas, as we learned already, can come from different places. Document your ideas whenever they come, wherever they come from.

Consult With an Expert

Being creative is a topic discussed by many, and there are many methodologies to help boost creativity. Reading an article online is great; consulting with an expert is a good idea if you can afford it.

Read a Book

Read a book, see a movie, broaden your horizons by doing anything that lets you get out of your mind. Getting out of your mind can also help break the loops of thinking that you may have.

Eliminate Distractions

Having social media open 24/7 is definitely not helpful for being creative. You can use apps like Freedom, Cold Turkey, or Rescue Time to deal with external distractions. Apps like brain.fm can also be useful to avoid other kinds of external distractions.

So, What Have We Learned?

So, now that we know that dealing with creativity issues and overcoming creative blocks is not as hard as we might have thought, what’s going to be your first step? All of us were born with some kind of creativity, and using the tools above can help us get back to our best creative minds.

More Tips on Creativity

Featured photo credit: Steve Johnson via unsplash.com

Reference

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