10 Ways To Boost Creativity

We already know being creative can make us happier and healthier. But while we may think of creativity in terms of penning or painting a masterpiece, experts say it can really mean anything from trying a new recipe to submitting an original idea during a meeting.

  • Listen to music. Jamming out stimulates the part of our brain that controls motor actions, emotions, and creativity. Classical music might give us an extra boost: According to “The Mozart Affect,” listening to Mozart’s work can increase creativity, concentration, and other cognitive functions. It’s not clear if this effect actually exists, but a little classical music can’t hurt!
  • Write by hand. Drs. Carrie and Alton Barron, authors of The Creativity Cure, advise us to skip the Microsoft Word doc and pick up a pen instead. Sometimes the whole experience of writing by hand—the ink on our fingers, the smell of a fresh notebook—is all it takes to get our creative juices flowing.
  • Meditate. Stuck in a mental rut? When panic strikes, try meditating: It promotes divergent thinking, a state of mind in which we’re able to generate new ideas.
  • Get someone else’s opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A friend might mention something that sparks a whole new stream of thought. The more ideas and perspectives, the better.
  • Free-associate. Try this game: Open the dictionary to a random word and write down everything it makes you think of. Perhaps surprisingly, freedom can actually inhibit creativity; a little restriction (like focusing on one word instead all kajillion of them) lets us think more freely.
  • Think about something far away. Research suggests our ability to solve problems improves when we think about events far off in the past or future or in another location. So picture New Year’s Eve 2022 or dining at a café in Paris and let the imagination go!
  • Daydream. What was I saying? Oh, right: We tend to take a more creative approach to problems when our mind in wandering (less so when we’re hunched over a computer with a deadline looming). So don’t worry about zoning out for a few minutes.
  • Look at something blue or green. The colors tend to enhance performance on cognitive tasks. Researchers s that’s because we associate blue with the ocean, sky, and openness in general, while green signal growth. Check out that globe the next time a problem pops up.
  • Have some booze. In one study, participants who knocked back an average of three drinks were more creative than people who didn’t drink at all. That’s possibly because a little alcohol lets us think more broadly, finding connections between unrelated ideas. But hey, keep it classy: There’s nothing creative about a pile of vomit.
  • Write freely. Take 10 minutes to jot down anything and everything that comes to mind without judgment, a technique called “free-writing” or “free association”. Then go back over the notes and see which ideas are worth keeping.

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