9 Reliable Ways to Cultivate Creative Thinking
Some people are naturally creative. Everyone else can cultivate creativity.
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The benefits of creative thinking are enumerable. Having this skillset will enable you to tackle problems with unique perspectives, come up with special ideas and, overall, be a more effective performer.
One challenge to becoming more creative is the difficulty of quantifying creativity. It is much easier to learn and subsequently demonstrate skills in software engineering, for example. That being said, companies and people are drawn toward creative thinkers. The more that those around you listen to your opinion and the more frequently you propose unique ideas, the higher an indication of these skills. Therefore, over time, you can gauge progress based on how others respond to you and your work.
The other challenge, though, is that sometimes others will not recognize your creativity. They might shoot down an awesome idea because it sounds crazy unconventional. Understanding this and learning to navigate it will keep your confidence levels high so that you can continue to grow.
With these perspectives in mind around quantifying creativity, here are nine guaranteed ways that you can become a more creative thinker to better tackle your life and problems:
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People have chronicled years of their work or life experiences into books. Knowing more and having different perspectives will help you become more creative. You will be able to take others' ideas, pieces of knowledge and individual experiences and apply them to your present situations. Reading is one of the best ways to pick up this knowledge and empathy.
It is easy to make excuses for not having enough time to read but if you make reading a priority, you will be able to find the time and undoubtedly become more creative.
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2. Pick up an art.
Having some sort of artistic outlet in your life will dramatically help with creativity levels. Albert Einstein came up with many of his famous revelations while playing the violin.
In the book Originals, Adam Grant -- a researcher and professor at Wharton -- found that "Nobel Prize-winners are twice as likely to play a musical instrument, they're seven times as likely to draw or paint, 12 times as likely to write fiction or poetry, and... 22 times as likely as their peers to perform as actors, dancers, or, yes, magicians."
Whether it be an instrument, drawing, acting or anything else, finding an artistic outlet will fire different parts of your brain. Those spark serenity and a stillness that will make you a more creative person.
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3. Surround yourself with a wider range of personalities.
Empathy is a huge key to creativity. Most people surround themselves with others who are similar to them. While doing so is comfortable, it is not beneficial when working toward creativity.
There are others within your vicinity who have lived dramatically different lives. Meeting them, understanding their backgrounds and learning how they think will widen your perspective about the world. That will, in turn, increase the creative vigor you can take through life.
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4. Spend more time in nature.
Being outdoors also sparks creativity. Escaping from the stresses and routine of life, even for brief periods, can get your head out of a rut. Finding short times to be outside throughout your week will give you a chance to get away from all of the technology and noise in our daily lives. Plus, it is an excuse to go have fun and explore.
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Mental stillness allows you to eliminate many of the thoughts that constantly ruminate in your head. When you are always thinking about a past or future event, for instance, it takes your mind away from tackling the current situation. Meditation is a great way to develop this stillness.
With a meditation practice you can learn to let your mind be entirely in the present situation. Doing so will allow you to exert more concentrated effort on the tasks at hand. You can pull in more knowledge from different parts of your brain. Consequently, you will be more creative in each moment.
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6. Get enough sleep.
Lack of sleep can kill creativity. Although we feel the urge to always be on the move, when we are tired, we are not able to use as much of our brain. Plus, exhaustion makes it harder to retain information upon learning it. Therefore, with less sleep, we learn less that we can apply to situations and we cannot perform as effectively on any given task.
Making sleep a priority will help your creativity, without a doubt.
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Feeling healthy is a great way to have more confidence throughout our days. This confidence often leads to less worrying and more mental energy being exerted at the task at hand. Plus, while actually working out, people tend to be hyper-present. This might trigger an idea or a thought you had not considered before.
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8. Do more of what you love.
There is a correlation between happiness and creativity. The better that our spirits are, the higher functioning we act on a daily basis. Subsequently, a great way to increase happiness levels is to do what you love. This could be hobbies, spending time with loved ones or anything else.
Additionally, when doing what we love, we tend to be in a very present state. Some have called this state 'flow.' As mentioned above, being in a present state pays large dividends toward creativity. Not to mention that doing what you love might spark additional ideas and help you find new interests where you can be creative.
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9. Take more risks.
Taking risks will boost creativity by giving you a larger set of life events. When you have experienced more things, you will be able to apply those memories and lessons to each new situation that you are in. While you can do more in life without taking risks, fear is often an inhibitor toward trying something new. Therefore, be open to taking more chances. By going out of your comfort zone and doing what others might be unwilling to do, you will develop a deeper breadth of memories and past experiences that you can apply to new problems.