7 Ways To Boost Your Creativity
7 ways to boost your creativity. Creativity can seem innate, but like many things, it is actually a delicate balance of nature and nurture. In other words, creative thinking can be enhanced by external forces, and isn’t necessarily reliant on “good genes” or natural ability.
Luckily, new research points the way to a variety of mental and environmental approaches that can help us improve our creative output:
1. RESTRICT YOURSELF
Famously, Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs & Ham after betting that he couldn’t produce a story using less than 50 words. The research shows Seuss was on to something. Most people naturally take the path of “least resistance” and build off of older or existing concepts when brainstorming, which can lead to less creative ideas.
2. RE-CONCEPTUALIZE THE PROBLEM
Researchers have noted that creative people tend to re-conceptualize problems more often before starting a creative task. As Einstein once said “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Instead of looking at the end goal of a creative project (i.e. “I need to create a memorable painting”), it’s better to re-visualize the problem from other, more meaningful, angles before starting (“What sort of painting would evoke the feeling of loneliness that we all feel after a break-up?”).
3. SEPARATE WORK FROM CONSUMPTION
It has been shown that we are particularly terrible at creating when we try to combine the gathering of information and actual creation. Researchers recommend only consuming information in an “absorb state” where you are not attempting to multitask.
4. STAY POSITIVE
Although negative moods can sometimes spur creativity, researchers have found that it is during strong positive moods that our best creative work is done. In fact, the feeling of love or even thinking about love was shown to best encourage creative thinking.
5. USE COUNTERFACTUAL THINKING
Counterfactual thinking, also known as asking, “What might have been?” has been shown to increase creativity for short periods of time. To experiment with this technique, take events that have already happened and re-imagine different outcomes, alternating between the subtractive mindset (taking elements out of the event) and the additive mindset (adding elements into the event).
6. DAYDREAM… AFTER GETTING STARTED
While research has shown that daydreaming can help with creativity, it is important to note that studies have revealed that daydreaming only works when you’ve already committed effort towards a project. The reason? Daydreaming can be beneficial because it allows for the incubation of ideas. But incubation is only effective when we already have information to chew on. So be sure to get started on your project before drifting off.
7. THINK ABOUT OTHERS
Research has shown that this “psychological distance” is an important part of being creative. For instance, one study found that people who thought their work would be used by someone else came up with more novel ideas. Conversely, those who were told that they would be using their own creation later came up with less novel ideas.