Take time to reboot your imagination
While creativity comes naturally for some of us, we all have the potential to tap in to our inner creative voice. The problem is that we don’t give ourselves permission to trust our intuitive perception. We listen to the mind’s critical chatter, rather than opening ourselves up to explore the possibilities.
When you start doubting your creative potential, remember these wise words from advertising genius Leo Burnett: “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, is the secret of great creative people.” In other words, creativity is the result of curiosity and choosing to see the world through a new lens.
Here are 5 ways to be more creative, according to science:
1. Take a mental timeout
Sometimes, focusing too intently on the task at hand can lead to burnout and frustration. If you’re having a hard time solving a problem, the best thing to do is step away from it and get yourself in a different frame of mind. Whether it’s going for a walk outside, playing with your pet or listening to music, temporary distraction often gives us the creative jolt we need.
“Taking a break from the problem and focusing on something else entirely gives the mind some time to release its fixation on the same solutions and let the old pathways fade from memory,” according to David Burkus of Harvard Business Review and author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Idea. “Then, when you return to the original problem, your mind is more open to new possibilities – eureka moments.”
2. Be more observant of the world around you
Remember those carefree days of childhood when you’d lay in the grass and stare at the clouds? You’d point out all the shapes and see the world through a very unique lens – curious and excited about everything and completely in the present moment. The key to creativity is to be open and aware. Have the explorer mindset and take it all in. Tap into your inner child, where the possibilities are endless, and everything is fun and fascinating.
Shelley H. Carson, Harvard University psychology researcher, explains that extremely creative types constantly explore and allow their focus to be captivated by each new detail. They find the excitement in everything, and are constantly repaid by fresh stimuli.
Studies show humor is extremely effective when it comes to fostering creativity.
Researcher Karuna Subramaniam conducted a study to measure creative problem solving and concludes that boosting the participants’ moods leads to increased success at solving a word association puzzle. The people who watched a comedy beforehand performed better compared to those who watched a horror film.
4. Disconnect from your devices and connect to nature
Remembering that technology is our tool, not our boss. We control the “off” switch. We need to take the time to look up from our screens, to fill our senses with experiences, sights and sounds. Go outside and make time to connect to nature. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, being outdoors is scientifically proven to boost mental health and creativity.
“If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do most of the day—and then you set that aside and go on a walk, without all of the gadgets, you’ve let the prefrontal cortex recover,” according to David Strayer of the University of Utah. “And that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.”
Meditation stills the mind from its daily chatter and allows us opportunities to see our lives with our eyes open, in a calm, peaceful way. Meditation – for me – means allowing myself permission not to think, to be in a quiet space of freedom, to close my eyes for a moment. When I reopen them, I’ve recalibrated: I’m different, calmer; my thoughts are clearer than they were before. It’s during these moments that I am most creative and come up with my best ideas.
Are you ready to unleash your inner muse? This fall I will be hosting a workshop with my friend and visionary photographer Laurie Klein. Through photography, you will experience your imagination as a gateway to deeper knowing and a portal for emotional expression.
Join us and discover a creative voice that’s entirely your own. Experience a healing journey through the lens of a camera. All you need is your smartphone and a willingness to tap into your creative expression. More details to come!