Creativity is helpful for those particularly sticky challenges, but it’s also a great approach in daily life. When we get too wrapped up in the minutia of our days, we operate mostly on automatic pilot. Although that’s fine for some things, it’s often not the best approach if we’re feeling fed-up, upset, or generally unmotivated. And, it’s even easier to be swept up in autopilot with all the time most of us are spending at home.
Here are three easy everyday tips to break into our natural creativity.
1. Let go. If you’re trying to solve a problem, whether an external one (re-organising the kitchen, getting that project on track) or an internal one (feeling unmotivated, or frustrated), often the harder and longer we try to tackle it, the more we get stuck. When it’s our inner state, we might get stuck in rumination, going over and over the problem – and whereas the intention is good, the effect is often not. One of my favourite ‘scientific’ models, because of its overly complicated name for such a simple thing, is transient hypofrontality – temporarily not thinking much. That’s not to dismiss the effect though (or the work of Prof. Arne Dietrich who studied it).
When you’re engaged in something like washing up, exercise, or showering, it’s light enough that your brain can also run the more complex work of insight in the background. Most ‘aha’ moments come when we’re not in the heat of the moment, but later when we’re driving, washing up, exercising… When you allow yourself to let go and engage in something functional, it’s like the brain can get down to what it’s really good at.
2. Do something different. It’s easy to think of what we can’t do, but what could you do that’s different from usual? Perhaps you know someone who loves jigsaws, but it’s not your thing, do one anyway; write a poem about a problem you’re working on; get a games lesson from a young person; walk in the woods; make a papier-mache tree, or learn how to say the alphabet backwards. Doing something novel is a great way to allow your mind out of its usual box, and novel experiences enhance our creative insight.
3. Read or watch something creative or uplifting. Just reading about someone creative (recent for me are Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin), watching an imaginative movie, or a movie about someone or something creative, like Dead Poets Society, or Eat, Love, Pray or something else uplifting, Slumdog Millionaire or Pursuit of Happyness perhaps, can also help to break out of that one-track mind. Or delving into some of those TED videos you’ve put on the back-burner.
The pandemic restrictions will ease at some point, so, have a go a nudging your creative-o-meter before all that ‘normal’ stuff floods back in.
(Check out other creativity related posts)