3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Creativity Today
Ever feel like you’re in something of a creative rut? It’s not unusual. It can be called writer’s block, a slump, or just a bad day, week, or year. We all have our down times when the lightbulbs just don’t ignite. But how do you break out of your rut and shine?
A little restored creativity and a few brilliant ideas can restore your zest for life and help you to feel better and be more productive. Recent health and wellness studies have shed light on several healthy habits that can potentially increase your creativity and the reasons why they work. These creativity-boosting practices ranged from new methods of highly focused meditation to the age old benefits of a simple walk around the block. Read on for the three simple tips that could help you to boost your creativity today.
Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang, Director of Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute, is best known for his study of integrative body-mind training (IBMT), a form of traditional Chinese meditation shown to improve emotional regulation and focus. In his most recent study, Tang observed how IBMT also correlated with increased creativity. Creativity, as defined by Tang “is a phenomenon whereby something novel and appropriate is created, such as an idea, an artistic or literary work, a painting or musical composition, a solution, and an invention.” Subjects of the study received instruction from a qualified IBMT coach and then implemented the meditation routine for 30 minutes every day for 7 days. Results showed that IBMT subjects had increased creativity test scores and also reported higher positive mood states. Tang explained the correlation between meditation and creativity, stating “meditation is associated with the ability to self-regulate emotions, which has been found to be a key component in cognition, including creativity.” Report of mood was also a factor in Tang’s research. “…it is proposed that positive affect fosters creativity fluency and originality because of enhanced cognitive flexibility, which may make more diverse connections among ideas, as well as perceive more differences among the items or content, with negative affect having the opposite effect ” Tang said. For more information on Dr. Tang’s research and IBMT practice, visit http://www.yi-yuan.net/english/tyy.asp.
While IBMT is not yet widely accessible, you can still practice other forms of meditation.
A review article in “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience” by Tamar Icekson and his colleagues at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, indicates how optimism amplifies creativity. Like Tang’s definition, Icekson explains creativity as being able to conceive solutions that are not only useful, but sometimes necessary to avert threats like bankruptcy or an attack. The motive to create such solutions is what Icekson believes makes the difference in whether creativity is fostered or not. “Striving for positive outcomes or success (approach motivation) enhances creativity, whereas striving to avoid negative outcomes or failure (avoidance motivation) undermines it,” Icekson said. For those who are avoidance motivated, a situation where demands exceed resources would be evaluated as a threat. While those who are optimistic (approach motivated), would view the same scenario as a challenge. Icekson suggests that an optimistic mind set provides a positive end state to look forward to, stimulates cognitive flexibility and therefore allows for divergent, creative thinking. Striving only to avoid negative outcomes promises no positive end state and “doesn’t provide much fuel for excitement or intrinsic motivation,” he said. While approach motivation tends to promote creativity, Icekson warns that neglecting relevant obstacles for the sake of optimism can be detrimental. “When people are approach motivated, they tend to focus on potential gains and overlook obstacles and dangers. They pay less attention to threatening cues and feel more confident about achieving their goals,” he said. Read Icekson’s complete article here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3937876/
Take a Walk
The Journal of Experimental Psychology published a simple study showing how walking correlated with increased creativity test scores. Adult subjects took both Gulford’s alternate use (GAU) of creative thinking test and the compound remote associates test (CRA) of convergent thinking. Walking increased 81% of the subjects’ creativity on the GAU and 23% on the CRA. As the study simply states “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”