Creativity is within each and every one of us but the key question is: how can we harness it?
First we need to understand where creativity comes from. Contrary to popular belief, creativity is not just in the right side of our brain. The widespread myth is based on studies conducted in the 1960’s and 1970’s by Nobel laureate Roger Sperry. These experiments involved the separation of the left and right brain by cutting the joining tracts of the corpus callosum. In these experiments he observed that there were certain areas of activity that were more prominent on the left versus the right brain. Based on these studies, theories about our creative and logic brain raised until today.
In August 2013 Dr. Jeff Anderson and colleagues from the University of Utah, conducted a series of experiments that unintentionally put an end to left and right brain theories. In their study they analyzed over 1000 brains from people aging 7 to 29 and found no evidence that people use one side stronger than the other.
It is true that there are prominent logical and prominent creative people but the reality is that both halves of our brains work in cohort sending signals from one side to the next to perform almost any task whether it be a mathematical problem or playing piano.
So where does creativity come from?
I believe that true genius comes from combining both creative and logical thinking. Take for example Leonardo Da Vinci a renaissance genius who was able to master both. He created a new movement in the world of art (his creative side) and he was able to engineer draw bridges and irrigation systems (his logical side)
We are all born with the ability to develop our creative and our logical minds. In fact, almost everything you do in life is a combination of both. You have to look at both of them from an out of the box perspective. Being creative does not have to mean that you can paint or play an instrument, creativity is heavily used by doctors, architects and entrepreneurs as well. Being able to solve a complicated task at work not only involves thinking clearly and logically but also creatively in order to find a solution to that problem. The same goes in reverse, an artist who is creating a master piece has to undergo a complex and logical thought process to come up with that master piece.
I think part of the problem we have been facing in our life started early on in life. When we were young children our brains were in its purest creative form, i am sure you can remember how you played with your toys, how you drew and created fantasy stories and how you were able to have supernatural powers using a simple rock and a stick. That is true creative out of the box thinking process at its best.
What happened with all that creativity? Where did it go?
We can start by analyzing our education system. In the US and in most areas of the world we focus very hard on developing logical thinking skills leaving aside our creative skills. By the time our children are in junior high school their creative skills development drop considerably. Think when you were in high school, how many classes that spark creativity where you taking? Take it a step further, let’s focus on your college years. If you were a science or an economics major for instance, how much creativity were you subjected to?
Fortunately, today many schools are realizing the importance of this issue and are able to incorporate it in our children’s lives. One of my favorite schools are the Montessori academies and can be found throughout the world developed by Maria Montessori. Their school system aims to promote creativity and encourage independent thinking. We need to incorporate more ideas like this into all schools and not just until 6th grade, it needs to continue. I still see a huge time gap between young children and grad students where creativity is required again in order to succeed. That gap covers an age range that is too valuable to oversee and for some people, it can be the difference between failure and success.
Can I get my creativity back?
Our brains have plasticity, the ability to change neuronal connections over time to reinforce new areas of the brain that are being used. Enhancing your minds creativity can be achieved as simple as trying to eat healthier or working out, with practice. There are many exercises and things you can do to harness the power of your creative mind. I have created a list of very simple actions you can start doing today to harness your creative power and more.
working out, playing sports or even taking a long walk enhances neuronal performance. Our body in motion will pump more blood which results in an increased blood flow to our brains hence increasing its activity.
Why do you think kids are so creative? They play all day long. Playing games, with your children, board games or even video games takes your mind away from the daily routines and puts you in a temporary imaginary world that can can trigger creative thoughts and spark new ideas.
4. Read educational books:
Reading increases your knowledge base and gives your brain a greater and broader spectrum of information from where it can grab information to stimulate new ideas.
Travelings creates new environments in your mind that is fresh and new. It takes away the routine bombarding your brain with novel stimulus that can help you acquire new innovative ideas.
6. Break time:
Working all day in an office can not only be very stressful but also very dull for your novelty hungry brain. Taking breaks allows your mind to wonder and think freely again. You don’t believe me? Ask the google guys.
At night while you are in bed, while you are walking or on a subway, let your mind wonder, get crazy and think of things that do not make sense. Remember Cristopher Colombus imagined that the earth was round and everyone thought he was crazy!
Are you bored at the airport? Are you waiting in the waiting room? Take out your little notebook or your ipad and just start doodling. Draw anything that comes to mind or draw any ideas that you have in your head.
The good news is that it is never too late. The examples above are just a glimpse of what you can do to release your creative power. You must remember that it is you who has to cultivate and educate your mind power to achieve great results. Your brain has all the resources you need to achieve your goals and creations. What are you waiting for?