Originally published in the Huffington Post – May 12th, 2014
Have you ever wondered why some people are more creative than others? Did you ever wish that you had more of that particular gene? The good news is that researchshows that happiness and creativity are not only related, they can be developed. Here are 10 ways to jumpstart your creativity, starting now:
1. Listen In: Listen to your intuition and capture your new ideas. Whether from your morning shower, nighttime dreams, when running, in the car, or in nature, keep an idea notebook and jot it down.
2. Mind Your Mindset: When you start something new, you can either choose to put yourself down and succumb to the inner critic (fixed mindset) or enjoy the process of creation (growth mindset).
3. Get in the Flow: Focus on the moment rather than the goal. When you are totally immersed in a creative activity, when hours feel like moments, you open to tapping into something bigger than yourself. Let it flow through you.
4. Let Your Senses Come Alive: Notice not only how things look, but how they feel in your hand, how they smell, the sounds surrounding you, even the nuances of taste. Don’t forget to listen to your gut — that’s an important sense too!
5. Happiness Spurs Innovation: Sadness inhibits innovative ideas, causing people to exercise more restraint, but happiness expands creative thinking, fresh associations and new perspectives. Remember to take a break and make time for fun! You’ll come back refreshed.
6. Gratitude Rules: Being grateful for where you’re at and “taking in the good” helps sculpt your brain’s neural pathways to receive more of it. Imagine what you are creating. Like an athlete training for peak performance when you visualize something special, your can embody it even more.
7. Seek Out Challenging Tasks: Just for fun, challenge yourself with projects that don’t have solutions, like how to make a horse fly (no — we’re not talking unicorns) or build a perfect model of a part of the body. This opens the mind for all types of strategies, which helps generate fresh ideas.
8. Surround Yourself With Interesting People and Things: Spend time with diverse friends, listen to new music, see new exhibitions to broaden your horizons. Having unusual objects around you also helps you develop original ideas.
9. Learn Something New: By taking a class outside your typical area of interest, you can have a wider range of ideas to draw from and interconnect. Research shows that connecting in new ways is the basis for all creative thought.
10. Know Your Strengths and Passions: Get to know what makes your heart soar, what makes you feel most alive and energized, and use it as fuel for the creative process.
By nourishing your creative side, you’ll bring happiness not only to yourself but to those around you. You’ll also know what you had inside yourself all along. What do you do to tap into your creativity?