*This article is the first of a 3-part series on Cultivating Creativity, How to Be More Creative [Part 1: Your Actions]. Here are links to the other two articles, How to Inspire Creativity [Part 2: Your Environment], and How to Increase Creativity in the Brain [Part 3: Your Subconscious].
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The Importance of Creativity
Creativity is arguably the most important skill in today’s world.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs report, creativity ranks third on the list of top 10 skills employers will want in 2020.
Skills associated with creativity like problem solving, adaptability and “thinking outside the box” are also coveted in the workforce now more than ever.
And as modern technologies continue to emerge, “human” skills like empathy and communication will be more in-demand.
Top 10 Most Desired Work Skills by 2020
(WEF Future of Jobs Report)
1. Complex problem-solving
2. Critical thinking
4. People management
5. Social skills (coordination/collaboration)
6. Emotional intelligence
7. Sound judgment
8. Service orientation (helpfulness)
9. Negotiation skills
10. Cognitive flexibility
How Can You Be More Creative?
Creativity Lives in Us (it just might be dormant)
When we were children, most of us didn’t have any problems being creative.
We played pretend, created fantasy worlds and imagined adventures with abandon.
We weren’t concerned with what others would think or whether it made sense or how silly we looked, we just created. And that’s part of why we were so creative!
So, remember what it was like to be a child. What it was like to be curious, to dream, to explore.
Creativity is inherent.
It’s in you. It’s in all of us.
We just need to tap into it.
It may help you to get to know yourself a little better.
Our experiences, personalities, temperaments, and other factors are all useful material.
Gaining insight into your personality can help you understand your unique genius and recognize the ways in which you can tap into your creativity.
What Exactly Does It Mean to Be Creative?
I used to think creativity was about making something entirely new from scratch.
Inventing something that had never been thought of before in any way, shape or form.
Essentially, creating something out of nothing.
But now I know that could not be further from the truth!
Creativity is not about creating something completely new in all is components.
Rather, it’s about creating something unique out of what already exists.
It could be in the form of a personal spin on an existing philosophy.
Or the application of a gadget in a new context.
Or the use of a medium in a particular type of art.
Anything that brings a useful and unique perspective to something that already exists (albeit in another form) is creative.
So, how can you spark your creativity?
Here are some suggestions:
Do These Things to Be More Creative
One of the ways in which you can improve your creativity is through your actions.
There are both short-term strategies to boost your creativity and habits of success that you can adopt for more steady, long-term results.
5 Unusual Tips to Boost Your Creativity
1. Drink tea
New experiments published in the Food Quality and Preference journal connect drinking tea to divergent thinking (the process of generating multiple creative ideas as possible solutions for a problem).
In one experiment, participants who drank black tea created more innovative structures out of building blocks and came up with more clever names for a ramen shop than those who drank hot water.
2. Remove yourself
According to a paper published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people come up with more creative solutions for other people’s problems than for their own.
So, if you want to be more creative try pretending it’s someone else’s problem!
3. Dart your eyes back and forth
A study published in the journal Brain & Cognition provides a weird creativity-boosting tip. According to researchers, darting your eyes back and forth for 30 seconds results boosts creativity for 9 minutes.
This is because it encourages connection between the two hemispheres of the brain – which leads to improved creativity.
(*If you’re ambidextrous, lucky you! You are already reaping the benefits of hemispheric connectedness – no eye shifting necessary.)
4. Work when you’re tired
According to a new paper in the Thinking & Reasoning journal, working at your least optimal time may make you more creative.
Researchers reported that when students who were night owls performed creative tasks, they performed better in the morning than at night (and morning people performed better at night).
5. Do open-monitoring meditation
Another way to promote divergent thinking (which allows you to be more creative) is through open-monitoring meditation.
The goal of open-monitoring meditation is to be mindful and observe without judgment. Observe your thoughts as if they are separate from you. Let them pass while staying grounded in and focused on the present moment.
If you’ve never done this before or if it sounds difficult, don’t worry! A study published in the journal Mindfulness suggests that open-monitoring meditation improves ingenuity, even for beginners, and the positive effects are surprisingly long-lasting.
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5 Tried and True Ways to Be More Creative
1. Get into the flow
Flow is a term coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his 1975 book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
When we feel and perform our best, we may reach a heightened state of creativity and productivity, otherwise called “flow”. According to a recent study at USC, three things need to happen in order to experience flow:
2. Have new experiences
Our brain needs new experiences to “chew on” in order to be creative.
The more new experiences you have, the more neural connections you create and the more creative you will be.
Studies show that one of the best ways to have new experiences is to travel.
According to a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, living abroad helps us learn problem-solving skills and coping techniques that help us to realize our best creative selves.
3. Read books
Not everyone can pick up and go at the drop of a hat. Finding the time and money often required to travel is just not possible all the time.
But, there are ways to feed your brain the creative building material it craves! One of the best ways is by reading - one of my favorite hobbies and a little-known habit of highly successful people.
When you read, you are introduced to new words and new concepts, you are transported to different places, different times. You have to imagine the characters and the setting in your mind based on nothing more than the author’s description and your imagination.
4. Spend time in nature
Another way to get those creative juices flowing is to spend time in nature without technology.
When we unplug and connect to the world around us, it spurs our creativity.
The longer you are outside in nature, the greater the impact on your creativity. As I learned from my 3-month long digital detox, our brains function differently when we’re away from our phones and TVs.
But, you don’t need to unplug for long. Studies show that even going for a short walk outside has benefits and just 30 minutes in nature is enough time to help you be more creative.
5. Adopt creative hobbies
This is perhaps the most obvious way to be more creative – do creative things!
Adopting a creative hobby like photography, music, painting, cooking, writing, gardening, DIY projects, etc. can really help you to flex your creative muscle.
As with any skill, the more you practice, the better you will get.
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The next article in the Cultivating Creativity Series- How to Inspire Creativity [Part 2: Your Environment] will be published next week.
*Source: The Secrets of Creativity: Find Your Inner Genius (2019).
Download the entire series from the Freebie Library to read later!
Over to you … what helps you to be more creative? Let me know in the comments!
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