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Control Creativity: Channel These Ways to Turn Your Creativity On and Off

Control Creativity: Channel These Ways to Turn Your Creativity On and Off

Whether you work in a creative field or just enjoy being artistic and creative as a hobby, it can sometimes be hard to work in the time you have available. We don’t always have the freedom to drop work, chores, or social obligations in order to follow our muse and see how artistic we can truly be. Check out these ways to turn your creativity on and off, and see how much you can control creativity.

1. Don’t over think anything.

Write down the first thing that comes to your mind. Defer judgment as long as you can; as soon as you let that critical side of your mind open up, you’ll be second guessing everything you do, whether you’re drawing, painting, writing, sculpting—anything! Just get something done before you look it over. The quicker you can get something done, the more creative you’re likely to be because you’re not letting the logical side of your brain take over.

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It’s so easy to let yourself over think every little thing, from what you’ll wear today to how your coworkers will react to your presentation. You second guess yourself once you consider your audience and what kind of reactions and critiques you’ll get. In reality, you don’t need to worry about this at all. Sometimes the craziest, strangest ideas are the ones that turn out the best, so don’t over think things on the front end. Creativity is all about you, so let yourself do whatever strikes your fancy. Have fun with it!

2. Look at things as if you were a child.

Remember when you were a kid and had to make up your own toys? I made dollhouse furniture out of bottle caps, boxes, and pipe cleaners. There are days now when I look at these supplies and wonder what I could make with them, whereas in childhood, I’d craft a table and chairs in no time. I used to color pictures of imaginary animals without worrying that they couldn’t really exist in our world. Do you have similar memories? Anything seemed possible when we were kids, but years of traditional schooling and falling into line in the workplace has trained us to think in a certain way. We have to think logically—everything has to make sense. We have to think in a linear manner—this leads to that which leads to this.

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Everyone says to think outside the box, but it’s harder to do than you might think. Instead of pushing yourself to think creatively, which will probably pressure and stifle you even more, look at things as if you were a child again. Nothing has to make sense, you just have to be able to imagine it. If you can think it up, it can be true. Use this whimsical, silly approach in your writing, art, and other creative endeavors. Letting go of traditional rules will help you feel more free with your creativity.

3. Find inspiration in everything.

Finding inspiration in anything around you will spark creativity. Let your imagination roam when you’re out and about, or even if you’re stuck inside your home or office! Look at what’s around you. The front yard looks a little overgrown, but instead of pushing away from your creativity and getting out the lawn mower, let your imagination loose. That tall grass would be a great place for elves to hide—maybe this inspires a story or drawing. Instead of sighing as you turn on your computer in the mornings, think of how things work behind the screen, and let your imagination wonder about how it was invented, what it takes to make it run, and see where your mind takes you from there. Instead of letting the mundane daily tasks get you down, turn them into something more fun and interesting.

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4. Strive for quantity.

The more you come up with, the more likely one will be worth exploring. If you’re a writer, don’t be afraid to jot down a dozen ideas, or start three stories at once. You never know which one will turn out to be your favorite. Don’t censor yourself and insist you just focus on one thing at a time—who knows what you’ll be missing out on! Same for visual artists: why limit yourself to one canvas or sculpture? Why not work on one until you can’t think of what to do next, and then start working on another? It’s only natural that being creative in one instance will keep your brain active enough to come up with more ideas, so don’t stifle that. Encourage yourself to come up with as many ideas as possible, and follow through on all of these to see where they take you.

Try any or all of these approaches to turning on creativity and see where it takes you and your art. You might be surprised with what you’re able to come up with!

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Featured photo credit: Johann Dreo via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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