If there’s one skill that is always useful, it’s creativity. The ability to think outside of traditional methods can help you find new answers to old questions and achieve greater success. However, it’s not always a natural skill – creativity is something that takes a little encouragement and brain training.
Whether it’s on a conscious or subconscious level, improving your brain’s cognitive skills overall can open up a wealth of unused potential. To this end, here are six habits that can encourage you to think differently and develop original, creative solutions.
1. Know when to step back.
Few problems are ever solved instantaneously. Yet, it’s also not ideal to work on a problem for as long as you can. Sometimes you need to walk away and come back when you’re feeling refreshed. It is important to take regular breaks to avoid mental fatigue.
Even sleep can improve your ability to feel creative – that’s how important these breaks can be. Taking time away from something allows you to come back with more energy and reassess the situation. On the other hand, if you stay up all night thinking something over, you’ll loop around the same areas of thought over and over again. This leads to increased agitation and a downward spiral into frustration.
2. Read fiction.
Novels … one of the world’s oldest forms of entertainment and it’s easy to see why. If you’re feeling uncreative, perhaps you don’t read enough? Unlike television or the cinema, reading a piece of fiction requires effort on the part of your imagination.
This is supported by science, which has long suggested a correlative link between a lot of reading and improved creative thinking . If you read on a regular basis, you’ll give your brain the constant stimulus it needs to develop an active imagination.
This also has the added benefit of providing simple entertainment while you improve your brain on a subconscious level. If you’re ready for some serious brain training, try detective novels and other genres that actively encourage a greater level of conscious thinking.
3. Explain your problems to others.
When you explain something to others, do you often get straight to the point? Talking to other people – even if you’re not looking for help – forces you to address the issue and break it down to its most simplistic key elements.
This can help you find a new angle or even help you realize what is irrelevant . Even if you don’t have anyone around, simply imagine how you would describe it to someone, and this will get your brain thinking with a different perspective.
4. Improve your physical well-being.
Both your body and mind are connected. A negative influence in one can often cause similar changes in the other. This is why stress can cause medical issues and why even walking outside can improve creativity by around 60 percent. Your mind is just another muscle and it needs to get out of the office more often.
A good diet will improve your mind. There’s a reason fish meals are referred to as brain foods – they’re known to benefit the brain physically. Likewise, light exercise will help keep your body healthy. So get outdoors, walk more and eat more tuna!
5. Take up gardening.
Speaking of the great outdoors, have you tried gardening? Getting outside and doing something physical gives you a distraction and keeps you from over-thinking. Gardening holds many more benefits; it can offer physical, tangible results, helping to improve your confidence and show what you, personally, are capable of achieving.
Gardening is an easy skill to learn. Yet, when starting the difficulty curve offers the perfect challenge for your brain. At first, you can grow simple plants, but soon you’ll be investing in a water tank for rainwater. This is where creative skills are really useful. First you plant seeds, then you start harnessing the power of rain water to benefit your home. Just think what else you could achieve.
6. Feed your senses.
Have you ever tried to work under a harsh light or tried to sleep when it’s noisy next door? It’s a well-known fact that the brain is linked highly to your sensors, and it should come as no surprise to know this can change how creative you’re feeling.
Be aware of the sensory input that may be influencing your mind. Strong lights, as well as dim rooms, are both problems as they restrict focus. Likewise, try not to concentrate when you’re hungry, as a battle between brain and stomach leaves little room for thinking. In other situations, have you tried calm music? Sometimes silence can be deafening, so gentle noises may ease your subconscious.
A creative thought process is not impossible, but you first need to nurture the seeds before you can enjoy the fruits. These habits will provide the ideal kick start to develop your brain and you will soon notice you’re able to think outside the box a little more freely.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Tim Sparke advocates for a beautiful planet by lending his voice to matters of the environment, sustainability and organics. As the CEO at 4 Pumps, his hobbies are generally centered around water pumps and gardening. In his spare time, he writes from personal perspectives to motivate and inspire a happy world. Connect with @4Pumps on Twitter.
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