We all know that a creative mind is one of the gateways to success and outstanding progress in professional life. A comprehensive study conducted by IBM 2010 examined the traits and practices of 1500 CEOs worldwide. The findings illuminated a remarkable correlation between creativity and successful navigation of change within organizations. According to the study, creative leaders promote experimentation throughout their companies. They also intend to make more profound business model changes to discover their strategies, take more conscious risks and keep innovating in how they guide.
Still, we rarely analyze how creativity boosts our personal and social life while influencing our mental health. Embarking on a journey through emotional well-being and creative problem-solving, we unravel the complex ties that bind these two forces together. Deep within the human psyche, emotions play a vital role in shaping our thoughts, perceptions, and responses to challenges. When our emotional well-being is nurtured and balanced, it becomes a wellspring of inspiration, propelling us toward innovative and effective solutions.
What comes first?
The question of who came first, the chicken or the egg, remains a playful enigma regarding creativity and well-being pair. Is being in a perfect mood a prerequisite for creativity, or can engaging in creative pursuits uplift our spirits? Many studies have proved that a stable emotional landscape inspires creativity, but do things work vice versa?
Creativity and well-being
Looking through a wealth of research, Dr. Cathy Malchiodi revealed a clear connection between "creative expression" and mental well-being. Numerous studies have illuminated its profound impact on our emotional state. From enhancing positive emotions to alleviating depressive symptoms, reducing stress, and supporting the immune system, the transformative power of creativity is undeniable. A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology 2016 supported these insights. It affirmed that dedicating time to creative exercises throughout the day " is associated with a higher activated positive affect on that day.”
In a 2021 Pubmed research, the authors concluded that creativity could enhance well-being by increasing positive emotions, reducing stress, and fostering personal growth. They also proved that starting with a priming exercise effectively activates your brain. They asked participants to describe three situations in which they had generally behaved creatively. This task was supposed to start their creative mindset and memory and produce more novel ideas. Then, they completed a divergent thinking test, listing as many uses of stone or rock as possible. The authors compared their performance with a control group that did not receive the priming task. They found that the priming task increased the participants' creativity and subjective well-being.
You can find many ideas for creativity exercises just by searching the web. But if you are looking for a complete recipe book on creativity, you can address the “How to Make the World Interesting” book by Tar Sahno, the Institute of Conceptology and Creative Solutions founder. It goes beyond just giving you exercises for everyday life. It also describes how companies and products can develop innovative ideas. Whether you're an individual seeking inspiration or a company looking to break new ground, this book will be your trusted guide on the exciting journey of creativity and innovation.
Before you start
Here are some guidelines to enhance your creative sessions:
- Embrace associations, synonyms, and antonyms to expand your thinking.
- Avoid being overly critical during brainstorming; save evaluation for later.
- Express and jot down any idea that comes to mind, including wild and unconventional ones.
- Strive to generate a multitude of ideas.
- Explore the potential of combining different ideas.
Remember, achieving the flow state requires some dedicated time and concentration. But the result is worth it. When we enter a form of "creative flow," our brain undergoes fascinating changes. Our brainwaves slow down, allowing original thoughts to take shape. At the same time, the part of our brain that tends to be critical becomes quiet, making us more open to new ideas and braver in our creative pursuits. Additionally, our brain releases chemicals like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which bring pleasure and satisfaction. These chemicals play a significant role in boosting our creativity and overall well-being.
Let's look at some creative exercises to start with.
Here's a well-known exercise to start. Take an object, an everyday thing, and challenge yourself to think of as many ways to use it as possible in just five minutes. It's like a game that gets your imagination going and helps you think creatively. You can make it even more exciting by focusing on ideas for children only. Imagine how they could use that object in their playful and imaginative world. You can also develop uses for specific places or themes to make it more enjoyable. So, let your imagination run wild and see how many creative benefits you can think of for that object.
Expressive drawing positively impacts mental health, promoting relaxation, self-expression, and emotional well-being. Here is a modification to inspire creativity.
Draw circles or any other objects on a sheet of paper and challenge yourself to fill in as many forms as possible in three to five minutes. The goal is prioritizing quantity over quality, letting your creativity flow freely without worrying about perfection. This exercise is a great way to inspire creative thinking by encouraging you to generate ideas quickly and think outside the box.
Here is another memory creative training. It was initially designed by Minor White, who taught photography at MIT.
Choose a detailed photograph or picture or a building when you have a walk that pleases you.
Set a timer for ten minutes and get comfortable.
Look at the image without moving a muscle.
Stay focused solely on the image, avoiding free-associating thoughts.
When the timer goes off, turn away from the image.
Recall the experience visually rather than using words.
Carry on with your daily activities, but try to recall the experience whenever possible.
Recall the experience frequently and visualize it.
Think of some unexpected details you would add to that picture or object.
By paying pure attention, you may discover small truths and thus teach your brain to pay attention to details.
According to a 2019 research study published on PubMed Central, expressive writing has been found to have significant benefits in reducing stress. Previous studies have also suggested that it can be beneficial in treating depression and various physical health conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and more.
Journaling is easy as you only need a pen, paper, and at least 10 minutes. Here are some ideas to make your writing even more creative:
You wake up one morning with the ability to time travel. Describe where you go and the adventures you have had throughout history.
Write a letter to your future self ten years from now. What advice would you give yourself? What goals would you want to achieve?
Imagine you are a character from your favorite book or movie. Rewrite a key scene from your perspective, adding your own twist to the story.
Recall something making you upset. Write a story about all the benefits you can receive from the current situation.
You discover a hidden door in your house that leads to a magical realm. Describe what you find on the other side and the adventures that await you.
Imagine you are stranded on a deserted island. Write about your survival strategies, the challenges you face, and your ultimate escape plan.
Write a dialogue between two objects in your room that come to life when no one is around. What do they talk about? What secrets do they share?
Get a word generator at your hand. Get five random words and try to make a story out of them. If you feel this task to be too easy, create a poem.
Remember, these prompts are just starting points. Feel free to modify them or combine different ideas to create something unique. Let your creativity flow, and have fun exploring new worlds through your writing!
To sum it up
Incorporate intentional changes into your daily routine. Identify habitual activities in your life that you perform automatically without much thought. Then, select each habit from the list and purposefully attempt to modify it for a specific duration, such as a day, week, or month.
To foster the formation of new brain connections, consider making the following changes in your daily life: alter your commuting route, adjust your sleeping and working hours, explore different radio stations and newspapers, expand your social circle by making new friends, experiment with diverse recipes, vary your vacation timing, switch up your reading habits from nonfiction to fiction, modify your break routines by opting for juice instead of coffee, diversify the types of restaurants you frequent, explore alternative recreational activities, opt for a bath instead of a shower, and finally, watch the news from a different television broadcaster. Being open to new experiences makes you more creative and upgrades your problem-solving skills, thus helping your mental health.