Do This Every Day to Boost Your Creativity
What makes creative people…well, creative? It’s a question both philosophers and scientists have asked throughout history. Surprisingly, today we’re no closer to an answer than we were a thousand years ago. We can look into the brain. We can see what areas light up when a person is involved in a creative activity. But understanding what brings on that burst of creativity in the first place is still beyond us. And when it comes to explaining that “spark” that makes some of us more creative than others…well, we just don’t know.
Luckily, when it comes to creativity the “how” is probably more important than the “why.” We might not know exactly what ignites that creative spark in the first place, but we do know some simple methods for fanning the flames to spur greater creativity. And even more luckily, there’s a very simple trick that takes practically no effort and only a few minutes of your time…but produces big results.
Harness the power of your subconscious mind
“Creativity” is a big word. It doesn’t just cover the “creative arts” like fine art and music but creative problem solving and engineering in nearly any arena you can think of. Creativity is important both in the studio and the office, the kitchen and the science lab. It’s what powers innovation of all sorts, whether it’s on a grand scale—like creating new technology—or a small one like creating a new favorite recipe for Christmas dinner. Creativity is what lets us “think outside the box” when it comes to thorny issues in our personal lives.
In other words—we’re all creative in one way or another. It’s simply a matter of how that creativity shows itself. And it’s about tapping into your subconscious.
You’re probably familiar with the idea that we all basically have two minds—the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. Your conscious mind is the part that thinks thoughts in words, plans your day, makes your grocery list, and so on. It’s the part of your mind that you have control of.
Your subconscious, on the other hand, thinks in pictures and feelings. It’s the part of your mind that creates your dream images, that works in the background while your conscious mind is doing the important things. Your subconscious is like a pot simmering on the back burner of the stove—it’s constantly working in the background even if you don’t realize it.
And it’s the key to creativity. You can drop something in it, walk away, and let it simmer. But even though your conscious mind may have forgotten about that “something” it’s still there in your subconscious, simmering away. If what you’ve dropped in is something negative, that can be a bad thing. Think about simmering resentment or simmering jealousy. There’s a reason our language is full of phrases like these. But when you drop in something less toxic, the results can be astounding. For instance—
Have you ever gone to bed with a problem on your mind—maybe something you’ve been wrestling unsuccessfully with for a while—and woke up with the answer clear in your mind? Or had the solution come to you in a dream? That’s the power of your unconscious mind at work—and you can harness it.
Just 10 minutes a day can make you more creative
Your subconscious mind does a fair job of sorting things out on its own. But with a little direction, you can set your subconscious to work on specific issues while you get on with your life. Here’s what to do:
Take a few minutes before you go to bed to think about your issue, whatever it may be. Whether you’re looking for a whole new direction in your life or you’re just trying to decide how to rearrange your furniture, put it into words. Think about it. Have a conversation with yourself. Write down what you want to accomplish. And be clear—your subconscious tends to take things literally.
Then…go to sleep. Once again, there’s a reason the phrase “to sleep on it” crops up so often. “Sleeping on” an issue gives your subconscious free rein to do what it does best—sort it out while your conscious mind is doing something else, in this case shutting down and sleeping.
When you wake up, instead of checking your phone or grabbing a newspaper grab your notebook instead. Sit quietly for a few minutes. Consider the issue you asked your subconscious to work on the night before. Then start writing down whatever comes to mind.
Don’t try to direct your thoughts, just write it all down as it comes. Do this for ten minutes or so—or until the stream of thoughts dries up. After you’ve had your first cup of coffee and you’re a bit more awake, go back over what you’ve written. If your subconscious had done its job, you’ll find the answer there.
And don’t be discouraged if you don’t have crystal clear answers right off the bat. It may take a few tries before your mind gets the hang of it…but once it does, you can find creative solutions to nearly anything.
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