Creativity is not a gift only given to a chosen few. It is hard-wired in our brain. But just like a big box of treasure, you have to dig deeper and exert some real effort to get it!

 Here are the secrets to being creative:

1. Brainstorm with different people. Many people think that creativity is a result of a magical burst of insight. But years of research shows that creative people use the same mental building blocks we all use every day.  A creative idea isn’t usually formed in a snap and an “Aha!” It doesn’t come from nowhere. It is a product of smaller ideas that you get from different sources. To be creative, you therefore want to brainstorm and collaborate with people from different fields. Just because you’re a therapist doesn’t mean to say you won’t find anything useful talking to an engineer, a writer, or an architect. The more info you’ve got, the more ideas you can create out of them!

2. Take risks and commit mistakes. No genius chef has ever created a perfect recipe in his first try. R. Keith Sawyer, psychologist at the University of Washington and the author of “Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation” says creativity is a numbers game. You have to take risks and expect to incur lots of mistakes. Don’t be lured by the belief that creativity is all about being gifted and talented. Creativity results from hard work – years of hard work, that is!

3. Learn from people smarter than you are. When you find a work of art, say a painting, a novel, an article, or an invention – don’t just admire it. Examine it, and dissect it to discover what makes it great. Sure, originality is one of the biggest factors of creativity but it is learning from other’s works of art that you can develop your own masterpiece. Remember, even the renaissance artists developed their skills by simply replicating the works of their masters. Be a keen observer. If it’s an invention, ask yourself: what makes this thing very useful? If it’s a design, ask yourself: what makes it attractive or visually pleasurable? What could have been in the artist’s mind when he was working on his piece? Interact with creative individuals. The web makes it easier for you to do so. Being with creative people makes you even more creative.

4. Work when you’re almost dozy. Quite bizarre right? But according to research, your brain starts making random connections when it is tired. These random thoughts could perhaps lead you to an idea that will get you listed as one of the most creative individuals of the generation! So if you are a morning person, try working on your craft at night. Remember that creative tasks require non-specific thinking. You need less of alertness to do well.

5. Butt heads and share. Many people are hesitant to engage in arguments because they are afraid that they might not win. But arguments aren’t made to know who the witty person is. It’s designed to practise your mind to think deeper, think outside the box. Francesca Gino, a negotiation expert from Harvard University says instead of feeling pressured or stressed, recognise the potential in making contradictions.

6. Be nosy! A critical ingredient of creativity is curiosity. Without it, you won’t be able to develop a creative mind just like you won’t be able to cook Spaghetti Bolognese without the pasta.  Remember what we said earlier on this article? Creativity doesn’t come from nowhere! Creativity doesn’t mean creation. It’s re-invention. It’s learning from others’ ideas and developing your own out of it. You have to draw your ideas from different sources. Just like a huge puzzle, you have to find all the pieces, even the smallest ones to complete the big question mark. In this world, everything is given. You just have to know how to look and find purpose in everything you see or encounter, and use them to your advantage!

7. Take time off. Sometimes, the greatest ideas come when we least expect them. Scientists call it the three Bs – the bath, the bed, and the bus. These are places where we really don’t expect creative ideas to come about, but often, the best thoughts emerge here! According to Sawyer, when we take time off from what we are doing, we activate different areas in our brain. So if the ideas weren’t there in the areas we are using, then they must be hidden somewhere else. Who knows? The next time you take the shower, or you climb your way to bed, you might as well get this “aha!” factor to the problem you have been thinking of for a long time now.

By Amy Taylor on December 19, 2012


Nepean Naturopathic Centre – making health easy


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