I have professed to be the ultimate left-brained nerd. For years I saw myself as the analytical automaton, sorely lacking in creativity. And creativity is something that I really valued. Think about it – being creative is defined as “having or showing imagination and artistic or intellectual inventiveness.” Who wouldn’t want that quality?
As I am also a professed personal growth addict, I have worked hard on boosting my own creativity. And I am happy to report that I do consider myself much improved in that area. If you can identify with me, don’t despair. It really was not as hard as I thought. How did I do it? Here are some of my secrets to help you get started.
1. Exercise your creative muscle regularly
There have been lots of studies on the human brain and evidence shows that our brains works very much like a muscle, which means that the more we use it, the stronger it becomes. In order to boost your creative muscle, start using it every opportunity you get, especially when it is just for fun.
Here are some things you can do:
• Pick up some brain teaser puzzles and work on those
• Instead of reading from a book, choose a toy from your children’s collection and make up a story about it at bedtime
• Play games that engage the mind such as mah jong or chess
• Approach things differently – instead of writing down a list of words, try using pictures or symbols
2. Identify your Creative Environments and Schedule Time There
Do you know where you do your best thinking? For most of us, it is not sitting at our desks. My best ideas come to me in three places: the shower, on my long walks, and in the car. There is something about the isolation and the relaxed state I’m in while engaging in these activities that allow my mind to come up with solutions to problems. So your assignment is to figure out where your best creative environments are and schedule yourself to spend time there.
A word of caution though – once you have identified what these environments are, don’t spoil it for yourself by expecting that you will be doing creative thinking every time you are there. Look for it as a special bonus, like a prize you get when you open up the right bottle of Coke. If I went for a walk specifically because I need some creativity, it doesn’t come as easily. But if I just let my mind wander to whatever it wants to think about, the ideas start to come. Learn to relax into your creativity.
3. Adopt a “the more the merrier” attitude
One of the books that has helped me develop my creative muscle is “A Whack on the Side of the Head” by Roger von Oech. It is a fun little book and I highly recommend it. In it, he talks about the “right answer” and the “second right answer”, and the next right answer. His point is that while we are in school, we are trained that there is only ONE right answer to test questions. And we adopt that same approach to everything else in life.
In order to boost our creativity, we have to remember that there is often more than ONE right answer. So, don’t just stop after you have one answer, keep going and see how many other ones you can come up with. Make it a challenge. It doesn’t matter how outrageous it is. The most significant inventions seemed completely preposterous at the time they were first considered. Don’t start judging when you are in the brainstorming phase. That can come later.
When you start using these suggestions, I think you will notice an improvement in your creative ability, as I have. I must admit that now I really enjoy my creative activities, like writing these articles, brainstorming with clients, and just letting my imagination run wild. And if you stay tuned, I will have a follow up article on this subject as there is much more great information I want to share with you.
Copyright 2005 Inez Ng
About The Author
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