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The Surprising Link Between Mental Load and Creativity

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Would you believe that being idle could make you more interesting? A recent study suggests that mental clutter stifles creativity while unburdening your mind encourages originality.

Researchers at an Israeli university looked at what happens when your mind is occupied with stray thoughts and nagging concerns. Subjects who were tasked with remembering 7 digits responded slowly, and gave boring conventional answers on a free association test. On the other hand, subjects assigned only 2 digits were quick to come up with innovative replies.

Learn how to liberate yourself from mental overload. Explore these tips for meditation and other intuitive experiences.

Reducing Mental Load Through Meditation

  1. Face yourself. Some unconscious thoughts can be disturbing. Remember that bringing them to the surface is the first step in healing. Once you spot your baggage, you can develop more constructive habits.

  2. Scan your body. Your body is an excellent guide to how to find your flow. Notice what conditions help you to lower your shoulders and unclench your jaw.

  3. Focus on your breath. Simple breath work helps beginners and advanced practitioners to become more mindful. Notice the air as it enters your nostrils and travels through your body. Spend as much time exhaling as inhaling.

  4. Develop clarity. Picture your mind as a pool of water. As the ripples settle, you can see under the surface. What’s going on when you put aside housework and utility bills? Connect with your aspirations and dreams.

  5. Count your blessings. Engage with the present moment by noticing what you’re grateful for. Celebrate the taste of morning coffee and the sound of your children laughing.

  6. Practice daily. Work your way up gradually and consistently. Even a few minutes of stillness can be beneficial.

Reducing Mental Load Through Other Activities

  1. Write things down. Put your to do list onto paper so you can forget about it without worrying that you’ll miss your next dental appointment. Electronic versions are also fine if that’s more convenient.

  2. Play games. Do you lose track of time when you’re planning your next move in Words with Friends? Taking a break from work can help you to return more refreshed.

  3. Move around. Clear your mind with an afternoon run or visit to the gym. Physical exercise also burns calories and releases stress.

  4. Use your hands. Repetitive movements can trigger breakthrough ideas as you tap into your unconscious. Knit a scarf or play piano. Chop vegetables for dinner or paint an accent wall in your bedroom.

  5. Slow down. If running too many programs at a time makes your computer less effective, think what excess multitasking does to your brain. Try to immerse yourself in a single task while you remember your purpose.

  6. Appreciate nature. Nature is a powerful antidote to cognitive overload. Spend a moment enjoying bird songs and cool breezes.

  7. Take a nap. If you can fall asleep easily during the day without disrupting the quality of your nightly slumbers, napping could be for you. Studies show that a brief sleep enhances memory formation. According to some research, people who nap also tend to live longer.

  8. Turn off your phone. Some distractions are beyond your control, but you can opt out of being available around the clock for non-emergencies. Disconnect your devices for an hour each day. Give yourself quiet time to stimulate your creativity and think on a deeper level.

If pushing yourself to succeed is tiring you out, try thinking less. Allow your mind to become clear so your creativity and productivity can soar.

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Rekindle Your Creativity

Harnessing your ingenuity will make your life more meaningful and enjoyable. Discover here why creativity is so important and welcome more innovation and inspiration into your daily activities.

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How Creativity Enriches Your Life

  1. Experience more joy. Creativity flourishes when you think positively. Find your passions and cultivate them. Embrace challenges with curiosity. Observe the conditions that help you get “in the zone.”

  2. Improve your physical health. Studies show that creativity exercises are an effective way to relieve stress and boost our immune system. Those who think resourcefully also cope better with aging and experience fewer declines in their cognitive functions.

  3. Strengthen your relationships. A sense of imagination can even enhance your personal relationships. Break out of the same old conflicts by searching for common ground. Look at challenging situations from the other person’s perspective and try out a different response.

  4. Perform better at work. Collaboration is integral to the creative process. Help create a more cooperative atmosphere where colleagues complement each other’s strengths rather than competing.

  5. Be all you can be. We all have some form of creative genius. Enjoy the pleasure of developing your own gifts. With persistence and an open mind, you’ll expand your skills for responding to all kinds of challenges.

Techniques for Sparking Your Creativity

  1. Brainstorm. Generating ideas is usually the first step in the creative process. Put aside any judgments and just let the options flow. Now’s your chance to get zany and experimental.

  2. Incubate. Before inspiration hits, there’s usually a quiet time while we digest our ideas.
  • Help your unconscious mind along by taking a quiet walk or a relaxing shower. Routine tasks like washing dishes can also trigger insights. Think about a dilemma right before bed, and you may wake up with a solution.

  • Take action. Make a plan for how to implement your ideas. Regard every attempt as a learning experience even if the immediate results fail to pan out. Remember that successful people succeed because they take more risks.

  • Lighten up. Free up your fertile mind.
  • Some gentle aerobics and stretches will relax your body.
    • Meditation or soft music can dispel anxieties or boredom.
    • Humor is a very powerful tool for lowering inhibitions and seeing things more vividly.

  • Change your routine. Any adjustment to your usual way of doing things can help you take a fresh look at life. Take an alternate route to work or visit a coffee shop on the other side of town. Expand your horizons by looking for ways to experience novelty on a regular basis.

  • Observe the details. On the other hand, you can re-invent the most familiar aspects of your life by viewing them from a fresh angle. Think about how your kitchen would appear to an alien from space.

  • Ignore the clock. Get up early so you can savor the luxury of open-ended time. Forget about deadlines. Focus on the present moment instead of thinking about the next task you have scheduled. Feel what it’s like to be free from hurrying. Try to remember that sensation as you start your day.

  • Get a hobby. Make the most of your leisure time with creative outlets that incorporate your passions. You may delight in watercolors. Or maybe you really get a kick out of working on cars.

  • Seek inspiration. Surround yourself with whatever you find invigorating. Visit art museums or go camping. Spend more time playing with your kids and getting caught up in their excitement each time they see something new.

Transform your life into a work of art by tapping into your creative side. Once you discover and develop your passions, you’ll be on your way to feeling more accomplished and fulfilled.

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I see inspiration all around me.

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Each day of my life, I strive to be original, creative, and open-minded.

I endeavor to come up with ideas at work about how to do something more efficiently. At home, I look for strategies to help me accomplish ordinary routines in ways that bring interest, opportunities to share, and completion of tasks. And to do all of these things, I am required to be inspired.

The process of finding inspiration brings out the best in me.

I notice I listen to others with my whole heart so I can glean the most important thoughts and ideas from the conversation.

I observe others with curiosity. I want to know what they are involved in and how they accomplish their goals in an average day. I am often inspired by watching a co-worker engage in a task in a different manner than I do.

I marvel at the inspiration I gather from my children. They bring to my life a never-ending sense of wonder and a “can do” spirit.

It seems that, regardless of where I go and what I am doing, something inspiring finds its way to me.

Today, my plan is to find inspiration from my natural surroundings. I am proud of the fact that my eyes are wide open when it comes to discovering inspiration.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. How easy is it for me to come up with a new idea?
  2. What have I seen today that inspires me?
  3. What can I do to insure I consistently notice the inspiration around me?
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Avoid These Obstacles to Creativity and Let Yourself Shine

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Creativity is the ability to make something new or to develop new ideas. Developing more creativity can benefit your career, relationships, and hobbies. Children love to be creative, but many adults have less motivation to create. There are also many obstacles to creativity.

Stack the deck in your favor by dealing intelligently with most the common barriers to creativity:

  1. Fear of ridicule. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. No matter what you do, someone will provide criticism. Learn to ignore the naysayers and let your creativity shine.

  2. Fear of failure. It can be the fear of losing money or valuable time. Or it can be a simple fear of failure. You’re tough enough to handle it. You’ve already failed thousands of times in one way or another and you’ve survived. What would happen if you did fail?

  3. Interruptions. Time and space energize creativity. It’s more challenging to come up with a brilliant idea if your kids are calling your name or your phone is chirping at you every 30 seconds. Schedule your creative time to minimize as many interruptions as possible. Early in the morning and later in the evening can be the best options for many.

  4. Distractions. A distraction is an interruption you give yourself. How do you commonly waste time? Remove those distractions from your immediate environment. Put your cell phone on mute and throw it in the drawer. Turn off the TV. Focus 100% on your creative activity. Distractions are controllable. Have the self-discipline to control them.

  5. Past experiences. Your past affects your current thinking and beliefs. Attempt to open your mind to all the possibilities. Just because something didn’t work once in the past doesn’t mean it can’t work today. Let go of the past and free your creativity.

  6. Stopping too soon. Once a good idea is found, it’s common to stop looking for a better solution. Are you sure you’ve chosen the right color for your painting? The right word for your novel? The right idea to make $10 million?
  • Once you’ve found a good idea, keep looking for an even better one.

  • Stress. Stress and creativity rarely go hand in hand. Whether it’s the stress of being tired, running out of time, financial issues, or illness, creativity is more challenging than when you’re relaxed. Find time to relax and decompress before starting a session of creativity. Your results will be enhanced.

  • Negative moods. It’s not just stress. Anger, jealousy, fear, impatience, sadness, or hopelessness can also be barriers to creativity. Studies have shown that creativity tends to peak while experiencing strong, positive moods.
  • Do whatever is necessary to boost your mood before accessing your creativity. Take a walk, call a good friend, or listen to uplifting music. What makes you feel better when you’re in a bad mood?
  • Too many options. It can actually be easier to find your creative streak if you limit your choices. Try to make a painting with only three colors. Write a short story with only 300 words. Or compose a song with only a few chords. Having too many choices can be a challenge in itself. Try limiting your options if you’re stuck.

If you can’t get your creative juices flowing, maybe something is in your way. Your creativity is a significant part of your uniqueness. Avoid the common obstacles to creativity and show the world what you have to offer. To really boost your creativity, try using it regularly. And start today!

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Affirmation — I HAVE A CREATIVE SIDE

I have a creative side.  

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Life is a continuing adventure and my creativity serves me well to keep me excited. Being creative helps me discover new talents and expand my capabilities.

During my spare time, I try new activities to strengthen my creativity and learn more about myself. I am proud of my creative side.

I engage in activities that allow my creativity to flow. I find that if I let go of being self-critical, my creativity comes out more easily. I tell myself that any form of self-expression is creative. I focus less on the finished product and more on the journey of creating. Even so, sometimes the end product also brings me great joy.

Having a creative side makes even routine tasks more fun. I release creativity when doing small tasks or performing other daily activities. I might doodle a quick picture on my shopping list. When I place food items on a serving dish, I arrange them so they are pleasing to the eye as well as the palate.

My creativity also helps me reach my goals. When challenges arise, rather than wasting time bemoaning it, I use my creativity to resolve the constraint or find a way around it. If one strategy fails to work, I simply devise a new strategy to propel me forward to success.

Today, I give full reign to my creativity to take me where it will. I trust my creative side to get me through the day with fun, excitement, and success.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. Do I have a creative side? Do I allow it to freely manifest?
  2. During which types of activities am I the most creative? Are there other times when I could be more creative?
  3. What new activities can I try to allow me to discover more of my creative side?
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How to Unleash Your Creativity in 30 Minutes a Day

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Although it’s true that some people are more creative than others, everyone can be inventive and original in their own way. Your creativity is inside you now. Perhaps it’s just waiting for you to tap into it.

Try some of these methods for 30 minutes each day to release your creativity:

  1. Harken back to your childhood. Did you have an active imagination? Maybe you pretended you were a teacher or a doctor. Perhaps you played as if you were the greatest skateboarder in the world. Assuming certain personas is a good way to show your creativity.

  2. Right now, imagine yourself as the best worker at your job. How would you look, dress, and behave? What would you say to others? How would you relate?
  • Visualize that you’re the best at something for at least 10 minutes each day.
  • What are you good at? For the next 10, 20, or 30 minutes, consider your various skills, talents, and knowledge base. Then pick one skill to focus on. What makes you good at this particular ability?
  • Maybe you think you’re excellent when it comes to following instructions. You listen well. You pay attention. You quickly pick up on what’s expected of you.
  • Perhaps you’re intrinsically motivated, which means you’re internally motivated to complete a job to the desired specifications.

  • When you know what you’re good at, you feel confident. And when you’re confident, you’re not afraid to try new things and experiment (which are aspects of being creative).
  • Let your mind fantasize about something in your life. Maybe you’d love to buy the big house on the corner or experience the serious love relationship you yearn for. Give yourself 30 minutes to sit back and fantasize.

  • Think about what that house looks like on the inside. Picture the face of your potential mate.
  • Carry a written copy of your top 3 life goals with you. Giving yourself permission to dream and reach for your desired goals enhances your ability to ponder how you can achieve them.

  • You hold the creative keys to pursue those goals however you choose. Let your mind run free with it. Think about these questions: what can you do today, tomorrow, next week, and next month to go after what you want?  
  • Identify someone you like or respect very much. Spend time thinking about this individual. What is it about them you like? How can you be more like them? Pick one characteristic you’ll work on emulating for the next month.

  • For example, if you like John at work because he smiles all the time and seems to consistently be in a good mood, perhaps you can begin to behave in the same ways.
  • Trying on new personal characteristics allows you to stretch yourself creatively to see what you can do.

  • Experiment with a new creative activity. We cultivate our creativity by engaging in creative endeavors. So, buy a block of clay, a jewelry-making kit, or some paints and canvases at your local arts and crafts store and have at it.

  • You’ll likely end up spending over a half-hour daily on your new pursuit. But, that’s okay because you’re expanding your mind along with your skills.

  • If you’re feeling timid and unsure about how to start, sign up for a beginning art class just to see what happens. Working with your hands and mind together opens up new avenues and can get your creative juices flowing.

It’s true that you can release your inner creativity and imagination by devoting just 30 minutes to any of the above strategies or try a combination of 2 or 3 of them.

Believe that you are a creative individual and prove it by doing something each day to cultivate your imagination and originality.

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The Creative Cat

The Creative Cat

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Every day, Cedric noticed the other cats trying different approaches to find a good home. One day, his best friend Bert said, “I have the perfect idea, Cedric! I’ll run out of the alley when I see one of those fancy limos passing by. Those rich folks will surely take me in!”

Bert tried this approach for several days, yet he didn’t have any luck getting picked up by the rich folks.

Cedric said to himself, “If I try Bert’s approach, I’ll be homeless forever!” And that’s when he came up with a better idea. He hung out at the corner of the alley and waited for the truck from the animal shelter to pass by.

“As soon as I see the animal shelter truck, I’ll start scampering away. They’ll be sure to chase me down and catch me!”

And sure enough, Cedric’s plan worked. As he dashed down the street, he was pursued by the shelter worker and caught. But now what?

Cedric figured that if he ended up at the animal shelter, he’d encounter lots of people looking for homeless cats to adopt. And he was correct!

After only three days in the shelter, cat lovers Mary and Matthew came in.

As they turned the corner, Matthew remarked, “Hey mom, look at that brown cat! He’ll be the perfect addition to our family!”

Mary quickly agreed and made arrangements to take Cedric home. Cedric was extremely happy to be chosen.

When he arrived at Mary and Matthew’s home, he was warmly greeted by another cat. Finally, his dream came true!

The Creative Cat Fable – Reflection

Both Cedric and Bert shared the same sentiment about escaping the homeless life. However, they had completely different ideas on how to achieve that end result. Bert spent his time trying to find the easy way out. Little did he know that it would be more difficult than he expected.

Cedric, on the other hand, decided to be creative. He thought of a less obvious way to reach the same end goal.

Having an open mind and clear thoughts could be the difference between reaching your goal and missing it completely.

When you keep your thoughts confined in the same box, your options can be limited. You may be unable to take advantage of the same opportunities as the more creative thinkers.

It’s possible that the more unique solution can take you closer to your desired outcome. While it may be an unpopular choice, it could end up being the most effective.

Avoid thoughts of self-doubt or uncertainty because they cloud your judgment.

It’s important to remember that you can find a way to make something happen, if you want it badly enough. Consider alternative options when the obvious ones aren’t getting you where you want to go. You may very well surprise yourself and others!

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. What are some examples of times when I’ve used creative thinking or witnessed others thinking outside the box?
  2. How could creative thinking enhance my life?
  3. How can I display more creative thinking in my everyday routines?
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8 Ways to Energize Your Creativity

8 Ways to Energize Your Creativity

If you have a career that requires creativity or you’ve ever needed a creative solution to a problem, you’re aware of how challenging it can be to be creative on command. Creativity seems to come and go with little rhyme or reason. Have you ever wished you could proactively boost your creativity? You can!

Like any other skill, the ability to increase your creativity gets better with practice and experience. Get started today and you’ll find yourself being more creative in the future.

These strategies will encourage your creativity to blossom:

  1. Work in a new environment. It’s amazing how much a change of scenery can help! Try working in the library or a coffee shop. Rearrange your office and change the view. When you do the same things in the same place, you’ll tend to think the same thoughts.
  • Turn off your autopilot and expose your senses to new stimuli.

  • Pretend you’re helping someone else find solutions. Many people find that they have more creative ideas when helping others solve their challenges.
  • Pretend you’re helping a friend and let the ideas flow. Depersonalizing the issue seems to free up a part of the mind that’s otherwise stifled.

  • Brainstorm in pairs. Have you ever noticed that you and a friend or coworker find more creative ideas between the two of you rather than when brainstorming in a group? Break away from the group and pair up with just one other person.
  • When a large group brainstorms, most of the group members lack a sense of accountability. It’s too easy to be passive.

  • Try being creative at a different time of the day. If you normally write in the morning, try the evening. Try staying up extra late or getting up extra early for a change. If you’ve been feeling stuck at 9 AM for a while, it’s time try a different hour of the day. Set your alarm clock for 3 AM and force yourself to work for 20 minutes.

  • Try some music. Few things can change your mood and get those creative juices flowing faster than a great song. Try different types of music and see what works. Avoid sticking to only your favorites. Branch out and listen to something new.

  • Meditate. Meditation is useful tool for giving your mind a well-needed break. You’ll find your thoughts start to become reenergized. Simple and elegant solutions frequently reveal themselves after a short period of meditation.

    • Meditation requires a little practice, but it’s easier to learn than you may think. Meditate on your challenges and be open to the thoughts that arise.

  • Stay hydrated. Get a drink of water! Your body is mostly water. Even a small degree of dehydration causes all sorts of biological processes to go haywire. If you’re feeling stuck, take a minute to drink a large glass of water.
  • Remember to drink throughout the day and the evening.

  • Go outside. Try getting outside for a little exercise. The late John Denver frequently commented that all of his best songs were written immediately after an exhilarating, outdoor activity. He frequently skied, drove racecars, and flew experimental airplanes.
  • You may lack a plan, but you can still get outside and do something stimulating!

Creativity doesn’t automatically happen on command. There are times when creativity is needed, but it’s nowhere to be found. Add these tips to your creativity pool the next time you’re feeling uninspired. If one strategy fails to yield the results you desire, try another. With practice, you can learn to unleash your creativity on demand.