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4 Principles of Creativity You Should Use Every Day

4 Principles of Creativity You Should Use Every Day

Think about that moment when an idea strikes you. It’s inspiring. Whether you write, paint, sing, compose, or take photos, there are moments when it just flows. In that perfect moment it all comes together beautifully and you remember why you love being a creative. But more often than not, the creative process does not feel like floating on clouds. It involves a lot of discipline, routine, structure, habit, persistence, and self-control. These aspects of the process are not fun to implement, nor do they feel very inspirational, but they are what give creativity its backbone.

The following tips are four principles of creativity that every serious creative needs to put in place. They will help you position yourself and be ready when inspiration strikes.

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1. Build a resource pool of inspiration

Forcing creativity is like scraping nails on a chalkboard—the thought of it makes you cringe. So it’s pretty much impossible to will any form of creativity into being. But what you can do is give it optimal opportunity to flourish.

Think of creativity like you would any good old-fashioned wor out. No one day of pushups is ever fun, or easy, nor does it immediately get you ready for competition. It’s the collective process of day-to-day discipline that produces noticeable results. If you assemble a repertoire of creative insight that has been built up over time, your brain power, creative juices, and inspired strength gain consistent stability slowly every day. When you sit down to create, your muscle memory has already been gaining strength, so that when the time calls for activation, your creativity is ready to compete at full capacity. Your only job is a mild warm-up.

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2. Implement boundaries

Most creatives would say they could sit in a room and think every day, all day. The free flow of thought is usually how they stumble upon genius. Most creatives would also say that doing the same thing over and over, day in and day out, is boring and a major creative buzzkill. The best ideas are discovered when the brain is released into imaginative territory, and who would want to miss this potential for greatness? The problem is that creatives are typically really good at daydreaming and terrible at follow-through. They’re really good at thinking up the new and improved, but terrible at implementing them. At some point you have to stop thinking and start doing. Which is why one of the most important principles of creativity is to set limits, establish boundaries and implement schedules.

If you are a true creative, your genius ideas will never go away. What makes you genius is the way you think, not just the ideas you produce. By giving structure to this thought process, you allow the truly great ideas to come to completion. The time crunch forces your brain to let go of ideas you know won’t have legs to stand on, and you’ll have more time to give legs to the ideas that do. Eventually, over time, your brain will weed out the good ideas from the great.

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3. Set aside time for constructive feedback

It’s fun when people agree with you. It’s even more fun when they rave about how wonderful your work is. Who wouldn’t want this kind of feedback? The problem is that it leaves very little room for growth. If the only people you surround yourself with are the ones who constantly praise you, you never see your work beyond its comfort zone. Sure, it may feel like left-brain thinkers “don’t get it,” but what they do offer is constructive insight into the way the other half of the world thinks. The more well-rounded approach you take to your work, the better chance you have of standing back from it to see its genius ability, and not just your personal attachment. No creative creates a masterpiece so their art can impress the busted-up walls of a worn-out basement. But the trick is to find someone whom you trust completely, someone who will actually be constructive in their approach, rather than confrontational.

4. Stay teachable

You may be the world’s greatest singer, but I’m guessing changing a tire stumps you. You may be the Picasso of this generation, but I’m guessing boiling an egg stresses you out. You may speak four different languages, but marriage is the hardest language you’ve ever had to decipher. The point is, you will never know 100% of everything. To grow, understand, and evolve, in all areas of our lives, is what feeds our inspiration. The very act of learning stimulates our mind and fuels our hope to believe in what could be—and the unlikely is often the very thing to spark the deepest creativity. But you’ve got to approach life with humility and eagerness, and choose to see everything and everyone as a potential teacher. Besides, I’ve never heard of any creative dying after they’ve said, “I don’t know. How about you teach me?”

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“A student of life considers the world a classroom.”

-Harvey Mackay

Featured photo credit: Cuba Gallery via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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