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What is creativity and how to become highly creative fast

Sometimes it seems that certain people are simply gifted with the knack for creativity. If you feel like you were not one of those lucky few who draws from a seemingly endless creative wellspring, this does not mean that you are doomed to a life of the mundane and expected. Much like a muscle, creativity is something that you can cultivate and develop with a little practice and hard work.  

One important thing to remember is that creativity is not a passive process. Simply sitting back and waiting for inspiration to find you is a recipe for losing your motivation and becoming discouraged. Instead, focus on looking for ways to boost your own creativity. Seek out the things that inspire you and that helps you focus your attention and mental energy on the task at hand.

Check out some of these fascinating and often unusual tricks that might help spark your creativity.

Go for a Walk

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Petri Oeschger / Getty Images

One 2014 study found that people tend to be more creative when they are walking rather than when they are sitting down.   Previous research has shown that regular physical activity can play an important role in boosting and protecting cognitive abilities, but this study found that a simple walk could temporarily improve certain types of thinking.

So if you are tied to a desk and struggling to come up with a good idea, try going for a quick walk to see if inspiration might strike.

Reward Yourself

Research has found that rewarding things that are already intrinsically rewarding can backfire and actually reduce motivation, a phenomenon known as the overjustification effect. So it might seem like offering some sort of reward for creative thinking might have the opposite effect, stifling creativity and motivation.

Yet research has found that when rewards are offered explicitly for producing creative works, creativity actually increases.  

So if you are trying to find inspiration, try promising yourself some type of desirable treat as a reward for coming up with a creative solution. Just don’t overdo it, or you risk decreasing your motivation.

Create Some Psychological Distance

People often suggest taking a break from a task when you’ve hit a creative block. Studies have found that placing some psychological distance between yourself and the problem might also do the trick.  

Researchers found that when participants imagined that a problem originated from a far location versus a close one, they solved more problems and came up with more creative solutions.

The next time you face a difficult problem, try imagining that the issue is distant and disconnected from your current location.

Surround Yourself With Inspiration

Positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that surroundings also play a role in the creative process. Stimulating environments can facilitate creativity, so surrounding yourself with things that you find inspiring and motivating can help.  

Create an office space that helps you feel inspired and energized. Seek out stimulating experiences and settings that can help trigger inventiveness.

Create Restrictions

When you are trying to solve a problem, people often rely on the obvious, building on existing ideas in order to come up with the easiest solution. This often leads to a good outcome, but it can also lead to mental sets and functional fixedness that makes it challenging to think of creative solutions.

One way to overcome this is to place some restrictions or resistance on your thinking can actually lead to more creative solutions.

The next time you are trying to solve a problem, try limiting the things you can use to come up with a solution. You might find yourself coming up with new and innovative ideas that you might not have considered otherwise.

Daydream

In today’s high-tech, connected world, distraction is just a click away. Instead of filling every single idle moment with apps, games, email, website visits, try letting yourself actually be bored for a spell.

In one study, bored participants performed better on creativity tests than those who were elated, relaxed ​or distressed.   In another study, researchers found that boredom gives people time to daydream, which then leads to greater creativity.

Boredom encourages creative thinking because it sends a signal that the current situation or environment is lacking, and looking for new ideas and inspiration helps overcome that.

Re-Conceptualize the Problem

One common trait that creative people tend to share is that they typically re-conceptualize problems more often than less creative people do. Instead of continuing to throw yourself at the same mental wall, try taking a step back.

Revisit the problem from the very beginning. Is there a different way to think about the problem? Can you look at the issue from a different angle?

Giving yourself this chance to start over with a fresh point of view can foster creative thinking and lead to more novel solutions.

Get Emotional

Researchers have long thought that positive emotions were strongly linked to creativity, but further research has found that both strong positive and negative emotional states were linked to creative thinking.  

This doesn’t mean you should rush out and put yourself in a bad mood just to gain some inspiration. But the next time you do find yourself in a negative emotional state, try applying some of that energy towards solving a problem or accomplishing a task rather than just sitting around fuming.

Negative emotions can be unpleasant, but you can make the most of them by working on something productive when you are in a bad mood.

Surround Yourself With Blue

Color psychology suggests that different colors can have varying effects on moods, emotions, and behaviors. According to a study, the color blue tends to make people think more creatively.   Why?

According to the researchers, the color blue helps encourage people to think outside the box. Since blue is heavily associated with nature, peace, and tranquility, the color tends to help people feel safe to explore and be creative.

So the next time you are trying to find inspiration, try using the color blue to see if it might trigger some new ideas.

Meditate

Research has also shown that certain types of meditation are linked to an increase in creative thinking. Meditation has long been used as a relaxation technique, but recent research has demonstrated that health benefits extend far beyond relaxation.

One study found that using something known as open-monitoring meditation in which the individual is receptive to any and all thoughts and sensations without focusing on any particular object or idea, can increase divergent thinking and the generation of new ideas.  

Look for ways to incorporate meditation techniques into your daily life. Simply focusing on your thoughts and experiences might help foster creative thinking.

George Land’s Creativity Test

In 1968, George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from three-to-five years old who were enrolled in a Head Start program. This was the same creativity test he devised for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists. The assessment worked so well he decided to try it on children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. The results were astounding.

Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%
Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%
Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%
Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%

“What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
(Source: George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993)

Watch George Land discuss his creativity study at the 6:08 mark during his Tedx talk:
(if you don’t see the video here, click on this Youtube link

George Land, Ph.D. (1932 – 2016) was an author, a general systems scientist and Fellow of the World Business Academy.

Why aren’t adults as creative as children?

For most, creativity has been buried by rules and regulations. Our educational system was designed during the Industrial Revolution over 200 years ago, to train us to be good workers and follow instructions.

Can Creativity be Taught?

Yes, creativity skills can be learned. Not from sitting in a lecture, but by learning and applying creative thinking processes. Here is an abstract from a study on The Effectiveness of Creativity Training:

Over the course of the last half century, numerous training programs intended to develop creativity capacities have been proposed. In this study, a quantitative meta-analysis of program evaluation efforts was conducted.

Based on 70 prior studies, it was found that well-designed creativity training programs typically induce gains in performance with these effects generalizing across criteria, settings, and target populations. Moreover, these effects held when internal validity considerations were taken into account.

An examination of the factors contributing to the relative effectiveness of these training programs indicated that more successful programs were likely to focus on the development of cognitive skills and the heuristics involved in skill application, using realistic exercises appropriate to the domain at hand.

The implications of these observations for the development of creativity through educational and training interventions are discussed along with directions for future research.

(Source: Ginamarie Scott, Lyle E. Leritz, and Michael D. Mumford, Creativity Research Journal, 2004, Vol. 16, No. 4, 361–388)

What is creativity and how to become highly creative fast

Creativity is a skill that can be developed and a process that can be managed. Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering a way of thinking. We learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.

Teaching Creativity at IBM

From a post by August Turak on Forbes.com

Every great leader is a creative leader. If creativity can be taught how is it done?

In 1956, Louis R. Mobley realized that IBM’s success depended on teaching executives to think creatively rather than teaching them how to read financial reports. As a result, the IBM Executive School was built around these six insights.

First, traditional teaching methodologies like reading, lecturing, testing, and memorization are worse than useless. They are actually the counter-productive way in which boxes get built. Most education focuses on providing answers in a linear step by step way. Mobley realized that asking radically different questions in a non-linear way is the key to creativity.

Mobley’s second discovery is that becoming creative is an unlearning rather than a learning process. [Did he know about George Land’s study above?] The goal of the IBM Executive School was not to add more assumptions but to upend existing assumptions. Designed as a “mind-blowing experience,” IBM executives were pummeled out of their comfort zone often in embarrassing, frustrating, even infuriating ways. Providing a humbling experience for hot shot executives with egos to match had its risks, but Mobley ran those risks to get that “Wow, I never thought of it that way before!” reaction that is the birth pang of creativity.

Third, Mobley realized that we don’t learn to be creative. We must become creative people. A Marine recruit doesn’t learn to be a Marine by reading a manual. He becomes a Marine by undergoing the rigors of boot camp. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, he is transformed into a Marine. Mobley’s Executive School was a twelve-week experiential boot camp. Classes, lectures, and books were exchanged for riddles, simulations, and games. Like psychologists, Mobley and his staff were always dreaming up experiments where the “obvious” answer was never adequate.

Mobley’s fourth insight is that the fastest way to become creative is to hang around with creative people –regardless of how stupid they make us feel. An early experiment in controlled chaos, The IBM Executive School was an unsystematic, unstructured environment where most of the benefits accrued through peer to peer interaction much of it informal and off-line.

Fifth, Mobley discovered that creativity is highly correlated with self-knowledge. It is impossible to overcome biases if we don’t know they are there, and Mobley’s school was designed to be one big mirror.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, Mobley gave his students permission to be wrong. Every great idea grows from the potting soil of hundreds of bad ones, and the single biggest reason why most of us never live up to our creative potential is from fear of making a fool out of ourselves. For Mobley, there were no bad ideas or wrong ideas only building blocks for even better ideas.

—Read the full article by August Turak at Forbes.com

Mobley’s insights ring true for me, although I’d avoid his jarring approaches to unlearning creativity. There are ways to unlearn creativity that don’t involve putting subjects through a psychological boot camp. Learning to be creative is akin to learning a sport. It requires practice to develop the right muscles and a supportive environment in which to flourish.

How to deal with creative or mental blocks and be inspired.

Posted February 2, 2014

What is creativity and how to become highly creative fast

Inspiration can be defined as a new and better way of answering a question, or solving a problem. In life, we often get bogged down by busyness and set patterns. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with insightful solutions to a difficult quandary. When you find yourself in need of inspiration and creativity, consider the following tips. Depending on your particular situation, utilize any one or combination of these ideas as you see fit:

1. Change Your “I Don’t Know” or “I Can’t” Thinking to “What If. “

”To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.”

Sometimes our own fixed patterns can be a major barrier to inspiration and creativity. Given the problem at hand, if you think close-ended statements such as “I can’t…,” “I don’t know…,” or “I’m stumped…,” you’re more likely going to create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy and remain stuck.

Instead, come up with open-ended statements and questions such as:

“I have what it takes to figure this out.”

“I’m open to the possibility that solutions will come up.”

“I will find the inspiration I need to solve this.”

“There’s always a way…”

“What better solutions are possible here…?”

These open-ended statements and questions are your creative mantras. When you repeat them to yourself, don’t try to consciously come up with answers. Instead, empty your mind, engage in one or more activities described in tips #2-7 below, and enjoy the process. Allow inspirations and solutions to emerge naturally and spontaneously.

For tips on reducing or eliminating over fifteen types of negative attitudes and feelings, see my book (click on title): “How to Let Go of Negative Thoughts and Emotions.”

2. Take a Break from the Mundane

The second tip to finding your inspiration is to think and act outside the box. Give yourself a day (or at least a couple of hours) when almost everything you do is a departure from your normal routine: Take a different route to work, listen to unfamiliar music, try unusual foods, visit an interesting store, problem solve in a new environment, brainstorm with your non-dominant hand (1), or watch a TED talk video on an innovative idea. Break from the mundane and experience your world in brand new ways. As your perspective widens to fresh stimulus, so will your creativity.

3. Listen to Complex Music

The links between music, intelligence and creativity are well established. Listening to Mozart’s sonata, for example, temporarily increases spatial intelligence (2). Find stimulating and enjoyable complex music to listen to, and let it refresh your mind.

Watch this short video clip of a live musical performance during a subway commute. Notice the change on the facial expressions of commuters and musicians alike as the music is played:

4. Get Out of Your Head with Exercise and Movement

Studies have shown that exercise stimulates the brain by creating new neurons in the hippocampus region of the brain (3). Physical activity helps us get out of our heads and stimulate new thought patterns. In communication there’s a saying: “motion dictates emotion.” Motion can dictate inspiration too. Engage in robust physical activity such as brisk walking, running, aerobics, yoga, bicycling, or swimming, and fresh ideas may spring forth like new seeds!

For tips on how to be highly effective, see my books (click on title): “The 7 Keys to Life Success,” and “Confident Communication at the Workplace.”

5. Immerse Yourself in Nature and Colors

“Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say.”

“Look! Look! Look deep into nature and you will understand everything.”

Nature and colors are well known for their rejuvenating powers (4)(5)(6). For example:

A. If you feel confused and are in search of clarity, go to a space where there are colors of green and blue, which have a calming effect.

B. If you’re looking for creative ideas, place yourself in the midst of vibrant colors (like a flower garden), which can stimulate the senses.

C. If you’re not able to visit nature right away, close your eyes and visualize it with all of your senses: See in your minds’ eye all the colors of a season; hear the sounds of birds and creeks; smell the fresh air. Take deep breaths as you let yourself mentally explore this wonderful environment. Better yet, visualize while listening to Mozart or other enjoyable complex music. It’s a nice mental vacation – perhaps just what your mind needs to rejuvenate!

6. Consult Your Board of Advisors

If I ask you to write down the names of six inspirational and creative people whom you admire, which may include personal acquaintances, contemporary newsmakers, historical figures, and even fictional characters (Yoda is my favorite), which individuals would you come up with? This list is your personal board of advisors.

With open-ended questions, use mental imagery and ask each member of your board how she or he would solve your problem. You may be surprised at the quality and creativity of the answers that emerge. Of course, these brainstorms are really coming from YOU – but from a fresh perspective, and often from your more inspired, Higher Self.

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” — Yoda

7. Read or Watch Biographies of Inspiring, Creative People

Can inspiration be contagious? Absolutely! In your search for creative solutions, read or watch biographies of those whose creativity, innovation, and/or entrepreneurship you admire, and let their examples influence you:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

May you find your inspiration today!

For more on personal and professional success, see my books (click on titles):

Author

Research Associate in Psychology, Coventry University

Disclosure statement

Valerie van Mulukom does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

Coventry University provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

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Whether you get mesmerised by Vincent van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night or Albert Einstein’s theories about spacetime, you’ll probably agree that both pieces of work are products of mindblowing creativity. Imagination is what propels us forward as a species – it expands our worlds and brings us new ideas, inventions and discoveries.

But why do we seem to differ so dramatically in our ability to imagine? And can you train yourself to become more imaginative? Science has come up with some answers, based on three different but interlinked types of imagination.

Creative imagination

“Creative imagination” is what we normally consider to be creativity with a large C – composing an opera or discovering something groundbreaking. This is different from everyday creativity, such as coming up with imaginative solutions to household problems or making crafts.

Creative inspiration is notoriously elusive. Being able to train creativity or induce a state of creativity has therefore long been the aim of many artists and scientists.

But is it possible? We know that some individuals have a more creative personality than others. Yet research has suggested that creative imagination can also be boosted through our environment or simply putting in lots of hard work. For example, experimental studies have shown that when children engage with creative content or watch others be highly creative, they become more creative themselves.

There are two phases to creative imagination. “Divergent thinking” is the ability to think of a wide variety of ideas, all somehow connected to a main problem or topic. It tends to be supported by intuitive thinking, which is fast and automatic. You then need “convergent thinking” to help you evaluate the ideas for usefulness within the main problem or topic. This process is supported by analytical thinking – which is slow and deliberate – allowing us to select the right idea.

So if you want to write that masterpiece, having lots of brainstorming sessions with friends or taking a course in creative thinking or writing may help you come up with new ideas.

However, that doesn’t necessarily help you select a good one. For that, research suggests that the first requirement is actually exposure and experience. The longer you have worked and thought in a field and learned about a matter – and importantly, dared to make many mistakes – the better you are at intuitively coming up with ideas and analytically selecting the right one.

What is creativity and how to become highly creative fastEinstein thought imagination was key to his success. wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Creative success is therefore not so much about finding a muse. As microbiologist Louis Pasteur said: “Fortune favours the prepared mind.” This also applies to art, with Pablo Picasso advising: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

Fantastical imagination

For many people, the ability to become completely absorbed by an idea is key to finalising a successful, creative project. For that you need something scientists call “fantastical imagination”, probably best predicted by your fantasy proneness and imaginative immersion. These describe your tendency to have highly vivid and realistic fantasies and level of absorption in imaginary worlds.

However, given that fantastical imagination can increase daydreaming and distract from everyday obligations, it may not seem like a desirable ability to have, at first glance. There’s even a dark side – one’s fantastical imagination tends to increase as a response to traumatic events by becoming an escape from reality.

But there are benefits. Fantasy engagement in children is associated with increased creative imagination, narrative ability, and perspective taking. For adults, it may help improve memory consolidation, creative problem-solving and planning.

What is creativity and how to become highly creative fastThere are benefits to daydreaming. imtmphoto/Shutterstock

This is also an ability you can boost. Research shows that children who were encouraged by their parents to participate in pretence play and role playing have higher levels of fantasy proneness later in life. And it’s never too late to start – amateur actors are known to have higher fantastical imagination too.

Episodic imagination

“Episodic imagination” is similar to fantastical imagination but predominantly makes use of real (episodic) memory details rather than imaginary (semantic) details when visualising events in our mind’s eye.

This helps individuals to better imagine alternative pasts and learn from their mistakes, or imagine their futures and prepare for them. The little research that has been done on this so far indicates that individuals with a higher capacity for visual imagery experience more sensory details when imagining their future.

Moreover, though years of self-improvement books suggest to “imagine it and it will happen”, this is actually the opposite of what you should be doing. The best preparation for the future is paradoxically to imagine the process – not the outcome – of your desired future event. One study showed that when students imagined desired outcomes (good grades for an upcoming test) they performed significantly worse than students who imagined the process getting to the desired outcomes (imagining studying thoroughly). Perhaps something to keep in mind for your New Year’s resolutions?

We all have imaginative ability to various degrees, and it’s difficult to imagine where humankind would be without it. So even though you are yet to actually write that novel you’ve got in you somewhere, keep trying. There are many routes to boost creativity, with play, practice, and experience being crucial. It may even make you smarter.

As Einstein himself reportedly once said: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

Definition & Examples of Creative Thinking

What is creativity and how to become highly creative fast

Melissa Ling / The Balance

Creative thinking is the ability to consider something in a new way. It might be a new approach to a problem, a resolution to a conflict between employees, or a new result from a data set. Employers in all industries want employees who can think creatively and bring new perspectives to the workplace.  

This article will dive into what creative thinking is, types of creative thinking, and the benefits of thinking creatively in the workplace.

What Is Creative Thinking?

Creative thinking means thinking outside the box. Often, creativity involves lateral thinking, which is the ability to perceive patterns that are not obvious.  

Creative thinking might mean devising new ways to carry out tasks, solve problems, and meet challenges. It means bringing a fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to your work. This way of thinking can help departments and organizations be more productive.

Creativity thinking isn’t limited to artistic types. Creative thinking is a skill that anyone can nurture and develop.

How Creative Thinking Works

Opportunities for creative thought in the workplace vary from obvious artistic positions to highly technical ones. Generally, anything that involves an “aha” moment is considered creative. Here are some examples of how to display creative thinking in different jobs.

Artistic Creativity

You don’t have to be an artist for your work to have an artistic element. Perhaps you arrange retail displays for maximum impact or shape the path of an enticing hiking trail. Other artistically creative tasks might include designing logos, writing advertising copy, creating the packaging for a product, or drafting a phone script for a fundraising drive.

Creative Problem-Solving

Creative problem-solving stands out as innovative. A creative problem-solver will find new solutions rather than simply identifying and implementing the norm. You might brainstorm new ways to reduce energy use, find new ways to cut costs during a budget crisis, or develop a unique litigation strategy to defend a client.

Creativity in STEM

Some people think of science and engineering as the opposite of art and creativity. That’s not true. The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are highly creative. Designing a more efficient assembly line robot, writing an innovative new computer program, or developing a testable hypothesis are all highly creative acts.

The history of science and technology is filled with projects that didn’t work, not because of errors in technique or methodology, but because people remained stuck in their assumptions and old habits. STEM fields need creativity to flourish and grow.

Types of Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is expressed in several ways. Here are some of the types of creative thinking you might see in the workplace.

Analysis

Before thinking creatively about something, you first have to be able to understand it. This requires the ability to examine things carefully to know what they mean. Whether you are looking at a text, a data set, a lesson plan, or an equation, you need to be able to analyze it first.

Open-Mindedness

To think creatively, set aside any assumptions or biases you may have, and look at things in a completely new way. By coming to a problem with an open mind, you allow yourself the chance to think creatively.

Problem-Solving

Employers want creative employees who will help them to solve work-related issues. When faced with a problem, consider ways that you can solve it before asking for help. If you need the input of a manager, suggest solutions rather than just presenting problems.

Organization

This might seem counterintuitive: Aren’t creative people known for being somewhat disorganized? Actually, organization is an essential part of creativity. While you might need to get a bit messy when trying out a new idea, you need to organize your ideas so others will understand and follow through with your vision.

Communication

People will only appreciate your creative idea or solution if you communicate it effectively. You need to have strong written and oral communication skills.

You also need to be able to understand a situation fully before thinking creatively about it. That means you also need to be a good listener. You may come up with a unique solution by asking the right questions and listening to the answers.

Benefits of Creative Thinking

Employers want creative thinkers because it benefits their bottom line. Companies that foster creativity may see more revenue growth.   Positioning yourself as a creative thinker can make you a more appealing job candidate or leader within your current organization.

When you’re applying for a job, think about how your creative nature has helped you in the past and how it might be an asset in the job you’re seeking. In your resume and cover letter, consider including keywords that demonstrate your creativity.

In your cover letter, include one or two specific examples of times your creative thinking added value to your employer. Perhaps you came up with a creative way to save your department money, or maybe you developed a new filing system that increased efficiency.

Come to your interview prepared with examples of how you’ve demonstrated your creativity. This is especially important if the job description lists creativity or creative thinking as a requirement.

If you’re looking for creative opportunities as a means of personal fulfillment, you can find satisfaction in surprising places. Any job that allows you to put your own spin on your work will end up being and feeling creative.

Creativity is something that many look beyond and don’t even think of as something of importance in the world of business, or in the nature of the success you build for yourself. Creativity is one of the greatest qualities any of us can be blessed with, yet many never allow their true creativity to be expressed.

Our society doesn’t approve ofВ creativity,В nor does it ever encourage it. Why? Because it never wants people to think for themselves or create their own paths in life. Think back from the point you were a child to the point you are an adult- you are always told what to do by society and that you have to do it.

School actually limits our creativity more than anything else because it is so egregious and is solely focused on how well you can cram and memorize things you will forget right after the fact, which is why we all hate it.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”-Pablo Picasso

What many don’t realize is that the reason society does this to us is because it doesn’t want us to think for ourselves. It basically wants us to be robots and live the average, pedestrian, American dream that entails nothing more and nothing less than what our basic needs are.

Because our creativity is stripped by the time we are ready to enter into the real world, many decide to take the easy way out and get that job that doesn’t require much effort, forever living life the way society wants us to rather than the way we ourselves want to.

This is the exact reason why so many become miserable before their 30s and feel like they have gone no where in life. This is the exact reason why so many people within Generation-Y are so lost in life and have no idea what route to take when it comes time to making a decision.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

The reason they have no idea what they want to do is because they hate everything they do- all because society is telling them what to do rather than allowing us to create our own ideas and make our own decisions.

In today’s business world the only way to separate yourself from the rest is not with your fancy resume that you printed at Kinkos, or your GPA that you basically overdosed on Adderall in order to attain. It is how well you can think for yourself and actually use your creativity that separates you from everyone else.

When most people out there see a problem, they just complain about it instead of trying to resolve it because they never had to use their creativity to problem shoot before.

We live in a world that is constantly becoming innovated with new concepts, ideas and technology. Having the creativity to help innovate something that has never been created before- anything from a product to a piece of art- is all based on where your mind wants to take you. But so many never even allow their mind to journey out of their cubicle, but instead get stuck in that cubicle for the rest of their lives.

People in today’s world need to realize that individuals in leadership positions must be creative and become creative problem solvers as these are skills of the future. You need to unleash your creativity and understand how important it truly is to have it flourish throughout your life and career.

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity” – Charles Mingus

Many times in today’s world there is little time to no time allocated towards real thinking and brainstorming, or even experimentation without judgment.В With so much pressure to produce quick results in the current economic environment, it may seem like a luxury to walk away from the mountain of tasks to be accomplished.

What you need to understand is that your creativity is what makes your life fun and is what gets you excited each and everyday you wake up in the morning.

That is when you allow yourself to be your true self- you must stop worrying about what other people think or say about you. If you have fun doing it and it keeps you constantly thinking and trying to figure out a new and better way, then that is what you need to focus on in life because creativity is what pushes passion.

Think about it like this: How many times have you heard about a producer say he was up all night working on a song? Or an artist working 5 days straight on a new piece? They don’t complain about it; they love it and live for their creativity, allowing it to push them beyond their limits and above their boundaries.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while” – Steve Jobs

When you allow your creativity to prosper, don’t even worry about money because that comes as a result. You will truly live life when you are doing what you like to do, what excites and challenges your mind each and everyday. That is what allows you to inspire those around you and have them work their ass off for you each and everyday, because they love your creativity and you let them feed off of theirs.

Without creativity there would be no innovation. We would continue to be cavemen. They say some of the most creative people work for Apple and that they regularly set time aside from each day to brainstorm and let their minds take them somewhere that they didn’t think existed.

You are blessed with creativity. It can be in any industry, so go out there and don’t be afraid to show it to the world. The saddest thing in the world is a wasted talent. Don’t be just that. Live up to your potential.

Author

Postdoctoral Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience, Harvard University

Disclosure statement

Roger Beaty received funding from the John Templeton Foundation.

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The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

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Creativity is often defined as the ability to come up with new and useful ideas. Like intelligence, it can be considered a trait that everyone – not just creative “geniuses” like Picasso and Steve Jobs – possesses in some capacity.

It’s not just your ability to draw a picture or design a product. We all need to think creatively in our daily lives, whether it’s figuring out how to make dinner using leftovers or fashioning a Halloween costume out of clothes in your closet. Creative tasks range from what researchers call “little-c” creativity – making a website, crafting a birthday present or coming up with a funny joke – to “Big-C” creativity: writing a speech, composing a poem or designing a scientific experiment.

Psychology and neuroscience researchers have started to identify thinking processes and brain regions involved with creativity. Recent evidence suggests that creativity involves a complex interplay between spontaneous and controlled thinking – the ability to both spontaneously brainstorm ideas and deliberately evaluate them to determine whether they’ll actually work.

Despite this progress, the answer to one question has remained particularly elusive: What makes some people more creative than others?

In a new study, my colleagues and I examined whether a person’s creative thinking ability can be explained, in part, by a connection between three brain networks.

Mapping the brain during creative thinking

In the study, we had 163 participants complete a classic test of “divergent thinking” called the alternate uses task, which asks people to think of new and unusual uses for objects. As they completed the test, they underwent fMRI scans, which measures blood flow to parts of the brain.

The task assesses people’s ability to diverge from the common uses of an object. For example, in the study, we showed participants different objects on a screen, such as a gum wrapper or a sock, and asked to come up with creative ways to use them. Some ideas were more creative than others. For the sock, one participant suggested using it to warm your feet – the common use for a sock – while another participant suggested using it as a water filtration system.

Importantly, we found that people who did better on this task also tended to report having more creative hobbies and achievements, which is consistent with previous studies showing that the task measures general creative thinking ability.

After participants completed these creative thinking tasks in the fMRI, we measured functional connectivity between all brain regions – how much activity in one region correlated with activity in another region.

We also ranked their ideas for originality: Common uses received lower scores (using a sock to warm your feet), while uncommon uses received higher scores (using a sock as a water filtration system).

Then we correlated each person’s creativity score with all possible brain connections (approximately 35,000), and removed connections that, according to our analysis, didn’t correlate with creativity scores. The remaining connections constituted a “high-creative” network, a set of connections highly relevant to generating original ideas.

What is creativity and how to become highly creative fast Two renderings show the lobes of the brain that are connected in the high creative network. Author provided

Having defined the network, we wanted to see if someone with stronger connections in this high-creative network would score well on the tasks. So we measured the strength of a person’s connections in this network, and then used predictive modeling to test whether we could estimate a person’s creativity score.

The models revealed a significant correlation between the predicted and observed creativity scores. In other words, we could estimate how creative a person’s ideas would be based on the strength of their connections in this network.

We further tested whether we could predict creative thinking ability in three new samples of participants whose brain data were not used in building the network model. Across all samples, we found that we could predict – albeit modestly – a person’s creative ability based on the strength of their connections in this same network.

Overall, people with stronger connections came up with better ideas.

What’s happening in a ‘high-creative’ network

We found that the brain regions within the “high-creative” network belonged to three specific brain systems: the default, salience and executive networks.

The default network is a set of brain regions that activate when people are engaged in spontaneous thinking, such as mind-wandering, daydreaming and imagining. This network may play a key role in idea generation or brainstorming – thinking of several possible solutions to a problem.

The executive control network is a set of regions that activate when people need to focus or control their thought processes. This network may play a key role in idea evaluation or determining whether brainstormed ideas will actually work and modifying them to fit the creative goal.

The salience network is a set of regions that acts as a switching mechanism between the default and executive networks. This network may play a key role in alternating between idea generation and idea evaluation.

An interesting feature of these three networks is that they typically don’t get activated at the same time. For example, when the executive network is activated, the default network is usually deactivated. Our results suggest that creative people are better able to co-activate brain networks that usually work separately.

Our findings indicate that the creative brain is “wired” differently and that creative people are better able to engage brain systems that don’t typically work together. Interestingly, the results are consistent with recent fMRI studies of professional artists, including jazz musicians improvising melodies, poets writing new lines of poetry and visual artists sketching ideas for a book cover.

Future research is needed to determine whether these networks are malleable or relatively fixed. For example, does taking drawing classes lead to greater connectivity within these brain networks? Is it possible to boost general creative thinking ability by modifying network connections?

For now, these questions remain unanswered. As researchers, we just need to engage our own creative networks to figure out how to answer them.

What is creativity and how to become highly creative fast

In the Information Age, winning is not about being bigger, richer, or working harder than the competition. Increasingly, business success today goes to the entrepreneur who can come up with the most creative solutions to pressing problems. For example, Uber is one of the most creative solutions to one of the oldest problem — how to get from point A to point B.

In my work as a coach, relatively few entrepreneurs come wanting to learn the old, established ways of doing things. They want to know how they can gain an edge by doing something nobody else is doing. And the best way to do that, of course, is to come up with an idea that nobody else has thought of.

But while best-practices and processes for many mission-critical functions are widely known, relatively few business leaders are well-versed in what it takes to foster creativity. Fortunately, there are a ways that entrepreneurs can make themselves and their companies more creative. Here are five creativity-boosters any entrepreneur can implement:

1. Be diverse.

There is a reason they say that two heads are better than one. The legend of the lone creative genius is, for the most part, a myth. Diverse teams can be far more creative than individuals because several brains naturally can generate more ideas than a single brain. However, too much or the wrong kind of diversity can actually hurt. To be most creative, teams should have people of differing skills, talents and backgrounds, but with similar values and motivations. Everyone should be united behind a common goal.

2. Take a break.

Ceaselessly grinding away at a problem is less likely to produce a creative breakthrough than consistent effort combined with occasional breaks to rest, relax, and recharge. Incorporating exercise into breaks helps even more. Research shows people come up with more and better ideas while walking than while standing still. And don’t discount meditation. The regular practice of mindfulness has been consistently connected with greater creativity.

3. Reduce time pressures.

Although necessity may be the mother of invention, that does not mean people will only be creative or be more creative when their backs are up against the wall. In fact, deadlines have been shown to make people less creative. So, while you may at times be forced to be creative when an 11th-hour problem strikes, you’ll probably be at your creative best in a more relaxed environment when you are not under the gun to deliver results quickly.

4. Change the scene.

Occasionally an entrepreneur will ask me about the value of daylong or weekend idea-generating sessions. My feeling is that these can indeed spur creativity, especially if they are held off-site. Simply changing the physical environment has been shown to significantly help creativity. Moving outside the business’s familiar walls also helps brainstormers get outside their familiar thought patterns.

5. Embrace failure.

One of the best-established connections between creativity and corporate culture has to do with the way failure is treated. Simply put, creative people have to feel safe to come up with new approaches and to try them out. That means not punishing failure and, in fact, rewarding it.

It’s a waste of time and energy to foster creative teams if the CEO is only interested in the way they’ve always done it. So don’t forget to encourage creativity in yourself as well as the enterprise. Fortunately, all these techniques for enhancing organizational creativity work for individuals, including the person whose vision created the organization to begin with.

When we look at the world we live in today, it is easy to see how the technological advances have completely redefined the way we live and communicate. With the influx of social media apps, we are now able to talk to virtually any person on any corner of the earth. Instagram, as an example, has allowed users to see live video streams of their friends in faraway places, as well as get a glimpse of the lifestyle of their favorite celebrities. Through social media have become more connected.

Knowledge is also easier to find, in fact, we can find anything about any topic on YouTube or Google. Knowledge is no longer asymmetric, as it was in the past, when only certain people had access to an accumulation of knowledge, while others had no access to it. Now everyone has access to knowledge – it is just a matter of what we do with it.

We can do everything in the blink of an eye – we do not need to leave our house to get food, to watch a movie, to talk to a friend or get our groceries delivered. We have apps for all those services which allow us a lead a more convenient life.

With all of these advances, it is no secret that technology has also replaced human jobs . In some cases, a computer is able to do things that humans used to do in the past. An example of such case is knowledge retention or calculation – a computer is much better in calculating numbers, and as a matter of fact, academic institutions have large computing resources which crunch numbers for the efficiency of research, instead of asking human beings to do it. In the industry sector, computers have also replaced routine jobs. An example of that is making a check deposit at a bank, which can now be done at the ATM.

So, since technology is only going to advance, the question is: what will be the most coveted skill of the future? In my opinion, it is creativity. Ultimately a computer lacks imagination or creativity to dream up a vision for the future. It lacks the emotional competent that a human being has. Thus, creativity will be the skill of the future.

However, creativity has always been valued throughout ages, and although technological advances have of the past have also revolutionized societies and moved them to a different direction, the value our society placed on creativity has always remained constant. An example of that the importance placed on art, starting from the Greeks and the Egyptians, to the Medicis in Italy to Belle Epoque in France. When you think about old masters of art such as Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, you can clearly understand why their paintings are valued at a high premium: it is because of their inherent innovation and creativity. The price of the canvas, the oil colors and the brushes is insignificant in comparison with the price sells for, which indicates that we as a society place a value on the emotion and the creative genius in a painting. As a testament to that, Leonardo Da Vinci’s panting Salvador Mundi was recently sold for $450 million . Why did it deserve such a premium? Were people buying the canvas and the colors on it? No people were buying a trace of Leonardo Da Vinci genius, they were buying his vision, his creativity as expressed through the painting.

Thus, the fact that technology brings about change is not new. In fact technology of the past has also brought about change. And as is with any change, it can be viewed as both positive and negative. But, the key to staying ahead and participating in the creation of the future is our own creativity. We must embrace and develop our creativity, and then use technology creatively solve problems of the world.