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  • AutorenbildBirgit Ohlin

3 Exercises To Try Today To Boost Your Creativity

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? According to English author and educator Sir Kenneth Robinson, everyone has the talent to initiate “the process of having original ideas that have value“, as he defines creativity. In fact, it is in our hands to increase our creative output, at work, or with our hobbies. Here are 3 exercises to boost your creativity based on the findings of Positive Psychology.

1. Creativity Exercises - Allow for mistakes to happen

We have created a culture in which being right and doing things perfectly is valued highly. But as we try hard to be perfect, we miss out on the benefits of being wrong. That’s right, a lot of inventions have originated from mistakes.

Take Post-it notes for instance. Spencer Silver failed to develop a super strong adhesive for 3M laboratories, but some years later Arthur Fry turned Silver’s mistake, a superglue that wouldn’t stick, into an innovative new product: an adhesive that sticks to objects but could be easily lifted off. If only Silver was more aware of his potential for innovation and creativity!

Ken Robinson claims that the reason we fail to be creative is because schools teach us to be right. So we get out of school in fear of being wrong, which suffocates creativity. Here is how Robinson explained the concept in a TED talk:

So why not allow yourself to be wrong once in a while? Create a work culture that sees mistakes as a pathway to innovation and growth. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t go wrong?

2. Create Upward Spirals through Positive Emotions (Broaden-and-Build)

Another way to increase your creative output is by making positive emotions a habit. Yes, it’s that simple!

Generally, most events we encounter are neither positive nor negative. They are neutral before we categorise them according to our “lense” (how we choose see the world).

American social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson found that as we choose to categorise more events as positive rather than neutral (such as a sunny day) and experience positive emotions, such as joy and appreciation, we experience an upward spiral.

This changes our radius of awareness. Fredrickson calls this the Broaden-And-Build theory (B. L. Fredrickson, 1998). Here is how Fredrickson explains her findings:

Fredrickson conducted randomized control studies and found that positive emotions change our view and even our peripheral vision. They open us and change our outlook on the environment and the way we approach tasks. This is where creativity comes in.

As our world expands, we become more flexible, innovative, and creative and are able to see solutions we would not normally see (B. Fredrickson, 2003).

So cultivating positive emotions is a great way to increase your creative output. One of the most effective exercises to create long-lasting upward spirals is a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes every evening and write down three good things which happened to you today.

Initially, you may find it difficult to find 3 positive situations each day. But as you continue to screen your day for positivity, you become more aware of the many little things, which you choose to either categorise as neutral or positive.

By the way, my favourite way of letting positive emotions flow is by putting on some happy tunes. So let’s get started with some positive vibes from Pharell Williams:

3. Practice Mindfulness

Are you still reading about mindfulness, thinking that one day you will incorporate it into your daily life? Well if benefits such as improvements in physical and mental health, as well as wellbeing, have not yet managed to convince you, the prospect of increased creativity is one more reason to incorporate mindfulness meditation into your busy lifestyle.

Let’s face it: creativity takes time. But our mind can be a tad impatient when it comes to producing solutions, right?

Negative self-talk along the lines of, “Your are so not creative! What a pathetic effort!” can be a real barrier for creativity. Practicing mindfulness has been found to increase self-compassion (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004).

As mindfulness is a state of relaxed, but alert attention to the present, we observe our emotions and thoughts in an open, non-judgemental way, we distance ourselves from negative self-talk, and we make room for the experience of the moment. Practising mindfulness regularly allows us to enjoy the process of being creative rather than just focusing on the desired end result.

What is more, as my colleague Uyanga Tugsbaatar pointed out in the post “3 Benefits of Mindfulness Practice for Your Brain”, practicing mindfulness raises your happiess set-point, which means you find it easier to experience positive emotions and broaden your creative view.

Not sure where to start? Check out our extensive list of Mindfulness Resources or simply download a Mindfulness App, my personal favourite is “Buddhify”.

So, to make it very simple for you to get started right away here is your action plan, effective from today:

  1. Accept mistakes! From today, realise their potential for growth and innovation

  2. Take a gratitude journal make time to write down three good things every day

  3. Take thirty minutes each day to meditate


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