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10 Surprising Ways To Fire Up Creativity

10 Surprising Ways To Fire Up Creativity

Creativity always eludes me when I need it the most. Maybe because it is because I rush to do work, and due to this hurried pace I end up doing nothing. I wrap up the day not finishing anything. My productivity goes down to zero percent.

This is why I’ve decided to cover this topic, and in this post we will explore 10 surprising ways to fire up your creativity.

1. Spend quiet time with God every day.

The time you invest doing this will definitely recharge your batteries. The creator of the universe is the most creative being. When you spend time with him, his creativity rubs off on you. Besides, when you have bonding with God, your stress, anxieties, anger, fears, doubts, and unforgiveness, all, will melt away. If you do this regularly, and you do it properly (I suggest you consult a pastor or a religious mentor so you’ll be guided accordingly), you will experience an overwhelming peace. The kind of peace Christians describe as “peace that surpasses understanding”. This tranquility brings about unbounded creativity.

2. Remind yourself that creativity is a slow process.

If you’re a creative like me, you know you need to be ingenious all the time to make a living. The truth is you need creativity to survive. Here’s the thing, when work has piled up, and you need to rush things, the problem starts, and it can escalate to an artist’s block if you’re not careful.

When this problem arises, it’s best to remind yourself about these ideas I picked up from Christine Kane’s article 21 Ways to be More Creative:

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When you want to do something creative you shouldn’t rush things. Creativity can’t be forced, but it can be cultivated and it can be allowed. It usually happens when your mind is open and receptive. So, upon starting to work on something, you have to let go of all little and big things that are currently bothering you. Shove them away from your consciousness and focus on just the task in front of you. If you need to call someone, by all means make that call. If you work at home, and you have to feed your pet, do it fast. If you need to water the plants, do it then go back to your desk. Take a breath, relax, then start working.

3. When you’re tired, your brain becomes more creative.

I know it’s counter intuitive, but your brain is more creative when you’re tired, not when you’re well rested.

“The reason behind this is that a tired brain struggles to filter out distractions and focus on one thing. It’s also more likely to wander off on tangents. While that seems like a bad thing when you’re working, creative thinking actually benefits from distractions and random thoughts. Research has shown that we’re better at “thinking outside the box” at our non-optimal times.” ~ BELLE BETH COOPERBUFFER

Cooper further illustrates the point by sharing an article from the Scientific American. I was dumbfounded to know that distractions are actually good for creative thinking:

Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. At off-peak times we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.

4. Take a 20-minute walk everyday.

It’s true, exercise can help us get creative. We all know this. However, sometimes it gets to a point when we get too driven about working out. You go to the gym. You go biking, and go swimming. So you might say, what’s that, a 20-minute walk? You belittle the exercise and you doubt whether it’s worth the effort or not. Open your mind. Engage in a 20-minute walk and watch as the whole world unfolds. Witness the sun rising, observe the people as they prepare for another business day at the market. Stop for a while, and smell coffee brewing. Observe the movement of leaves as they fall on the street. Smell flowers as they bloom. Watch as the world slowly shows its beauty to you.

5. Creativity points to ambient noises as the best background.

I’ve always believed that silence is the best background for working on creative projects. My jaws dropped when I got a revelation: ambient noises with the right levels are way better for creative thinking than the sound of silence. Although, silence works well with a more intense focus, making it perfect for problem solving and with detail intensive tasks, creative thinking, on the contrary, thrives in places with cafe like noises. This promotes inventiveness, and broad range mental activity.

That’s the main point in having tools such as Coffitivity to deliver ambient café sounds to your desk.

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    6. Listen to a genre of music you have never explored.

    After watching Slumdog millionaire, I got interested in Indian music. Don’t worry, the Internet is a blessing when it comes to seeking for different kinds of music; even the hard-to-find ones. I got all the Indian music I could listen to from lastfm.com and other sites. New music has power to touch areas in our brain, aside from the auditory cortex, that produces chemical changes resulting to amplified creative abilities.

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    7. Constraints can be favorable to creative work.

    Many people especially those who are artistically inclined believe that freedom spells better creative results. They are proven wrong with the information that is about to be poured out. Cooper further explains,

    “Counterintuitively, it turns out that constraints can actually increase our creative output.” This is due to the fact that if the overwhelm of too many choices is removed from the equation, creativity will flow.

    Another way of defining creativity is the ability to transcend constraints. In other words, to be creative means to device a clever way of getting out from a difficult situation, or unleash a fresh idea to turn the lack of resources into an advantage. I’m reminded of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols when talking about this premise. They are bands whose lack of formal training became an advantage rather than a limiting factor. Film makers Spike Lee & Richard Rodriguez, are good examples of this definition too. Their first films only cost them an amount that is even lower than the price of a new car.

    8. Be silent.

    I know some people who can’t stand silence. However, in silence we can hear the voice of creativity. Well, maybe not right away, but if you do it more often, it will come. According to Christine Kane, here’s how to do it. After dark, light a few candles. Just sit quietly doing nothing. Watch the candles. The world has turn really noisy. Allow silence to rule your world once in a while. Drive without music on. Clean the house minus your headphones. Observe the plants and the flowers when watering. Just be quiet.

    9. Dim lighting makes us feel more free.

    Turning the lights low can allow us to feel more free. I know that’s not believable at first, but keep on reading. Soon you’ll be enlightened. Like the title of Hemingway’s masterpiece, a clean well-lighted place is the ideal workplace for me ’cause I’m astigmatic. I tend to prefer bright lights, whether natural or electric. I’m drawn to them especially when I need to read novelesque resources. Then, I got surprised by a research proving that the dim kind of lighting elevates creative performance.

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    Researchers had six different studies. All point to the fact that dim lights enhance creativity. The experts discovered that even if the participants don’t notice changes in visibility, if the lighting gets dim, they became more creative. What’s the logic behind this? The participants’ subconscious felt more free to explore: “…darkness elicits a feeling of being free from constraints and triggers a risky, explorative processing style.”

    In case you can’t control the lighting in your area, you can use your imagination. Envision yourself being in the dark and it could have an effect:

    “Other experiments found that merely priming the idea of darkness—such as by taking five minutes to describe an experience of literally being in the dark, and recalling how it felt—was sufficient to boost creativity.”

    10. Visit a gallery.

    I also got this idea from Kane. She says explore another artist’s work. Make a point to experience the artistry of a gifted individual in photography, or sculpture, or pottery. Just so you won’t worry, you don’t need to buy anything from the gallery. Just appreciating another person’s art will get your creative juices flowing again.

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    Anthony Dejolde

    TV/Radio personality who educates his audience on entrepreneurship, productivity, and leadership.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

    More About Goals Setting

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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