How You Can Boost Your Creativity
Would you like to be more creative? Do you think that increased creativity is something that would improve your life?
Before you answer yes or no to that question, take some time to explore what the word “creativity” means to you.
If you think that creativity is something that you only need if you’re an artist, while you happen to be a middle-manager in a corporation, you may decide that increased creativity is not really important to you. But creativity is actually something far broader than artistic expression, and it’s required in many areas of life.
Your idea of a creative person might be someone who lives in a loft, painting gigantic canvases all day long. Or perhaps a writer at her computer, working on a long novel. Or a musician, actor, or singer performing on stage to an audience. All these people are expressing themselves artistically, and they can all rightly be said to be creative people.
But what about an entrepreneur who has an idea for a new product, who forms a new company to produce and distribute it, eventually employing hundreds of people? Doesn’t this also require creativity?
What about a research scientist toiling in a lab, developing new compounds in an effort to cure disease? Isn’t this creative? What about a single mother who manages to come up with healthy delicious meals on a tiny budget? Isn’t that creativity?
To one person, creativity can mean gluing seashells to a picture frame. To another, creativity might mean solving a grand unified theory in physics. And to another person, being creative might mean coming up with an ingenious new way to speed up a factory assembly line.
When we define creativity only in terms of artistic expression, we miss a lot of other potential applications for creative thinking and problem solving.
An artist painting a picture, or a writer working on a novel, both have something in common with the researcher in the lab, and the entrepreneur, and the person gluing seashells to picture frames.
They are all working on problems and devising solutions that didn’t exist before. These people are using their minds to imagine fresh ways of doing something, putting together existing forms and ideas in new ways.
They may be creating a new idea, a new look, a new product, or new technique. Sometimes the ability to be more creative can lead to personal fame and fortune; sometimes it just provides a deep sense of personal satisfaction.
Can we improve our ability to be creative? Yes, in fact, learning to be more creative can be quite enjoyable and easy to do. Most of us were very creative as children, before we learned the official rules about how things are supposed to be.
We can resurrect our ability to be more creative by exploring some of the many techniques that have been developed to improve creative and artistic ability, as well as to improve creative problem solving.
Some of the techniques that are used to improve creativity include brainstorming, mind-mapping, various forms of hypnosis and meditation, and guided imagery.
The techniques that have been developed to try enhance creativity all have one thing in common. They are all trying to bypass the inner “judge” or “critic” we have in our minds.
Most of us have an inner voice that is running a constant commentary on everything we think and do. We might barely notice this inner voice much of the time, yet it has a great impact on what we can accomplish in our life.
In many of us this inner voice is usually very negative. No matter what we want think about, or want to do, this inner voice is running like a tape in the background of our minds, criticizing our ideas, our performance, and our ability to be successful.
When we come up with a new idea, our inner voice may be saying, “This idea is stupid.” Or it might tell us, “I should never be mediocre or average, I must be brilliant and perfect all the time. All my ideas should be totally brilliant and innovative. If my ideas aren’t perfect right from the start, I am a failure and it’s better not to even try”.
Our negative inner critic does not always appear as a voice. Sometimes we see visual images of ourselves failing. Or we may have physical sensations of fear and embarrassment that stop us from pursuing new ideas or new actions.
Your inner critic isn’t being evil when it criticizes you, or when it tells you your ideas are not very good. Your critic is actually trying to protect you from being ashamed or embarrassed by the potentially negative comments and reactions of other people to your ideas.
Our inner critic is trying to make us perfect and safe, but it can have an unforeseen damaging effect.
If our inner judgmental dialogue is mostly negative, our creative abilities will suffer.
Instead of helping us to come up with better ideas, this endless barrage of negative inner commentary will hurt our ability to come up with new ideas.
You can’t be creative, and be critical at the same time. These two processes require different ways of thinking. The critical, judgmental, analytical function of the brain is not the part that knows how to generate creative ideas.
Even the types of brainwaves that you generate when you are being rational and analytical are quite different than the brainwaves that go with maximum creativity.
When it’s time for you to be creative, you have to send your “inner critic” out for a walk.