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19 Scientifically Proven Ways to Increase Your Creativity

Monday, April 2, 2012 2:51
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By Larry Dignan

Guest Writer for Wake Up World


Despite being the most necessary organ in the body, scientists continually find themselves astounded by new and exciting facts about the brain’s intriguing, mysterious complexities.

Creativity in particular oftentimes piques their curiosity because it both keeps humanity moving forward and stands as notoriously difficult to fully define. Although much of its realities remain shrouded, researchers do know of a few proven strategies for nursing it. When inspiration stalls, try applying some of these methods and see which one works best.


Psychological distance

When puzzling over a creative quandary, take a step back and create some physical and psychological space. Indiana University at Bloomington students in Greece and their own state alike contributed to Lile Jia, Edward R. Hirt, and Samuel C. Karpen’s study, which revealed that absence makes the head and heart grow more innovative. The more distance, the more the brain processes a problem in the abstract – a necessary component of creative thinking.

Embrace the metaphors

Funny enough, “putting two and two together” and “thinking outside the box” completely work on a not-at-all-figurative level. An article in Psychological Science explored this phenomenon and discovered that acting out the metaphors in real life bolstered creativity, though it didn’t improve overall performance. Do keep in mind, though, that researchers took measures using the standardized RAT.

Attain REM sleep

Dream a little dream if those creative sparks need more than just a bit of flint to get going, because hitting a REM state remains one of the best things anyone can do for their projects. One doesn’t need science to see this trope in action, however, as notable names like Salvador Dali, Mary Shelley, and Michael Stipe all cited their unconscious nocturnal adventures as the starting point for some of their most popular works. Several University of California researchers went ahead and looked for the psychology and biology behind it anyway, and found that dreaming nurtures new information syntheses that don’t occur in waking life.

Channeling that inner Hulk

Multiple studies by University of Amsterdam and University of Gronigen noted that a little bit of anger promotes innovative thinking, but it comes with a temporal price tag. Negative emotions allowed to simmer prove less conducive to pumping out excellent projects than their fresher predecessors. So make sure to (peacefully!) lay that rage out quickly before the creative component starts dissolving; it’ll definitely prove more cathartic.

Moderate alcohol consumption

Psychosomatically, anyways, according to an Addictive Behavior article on the frequently disputed link between alcohol and creative output. In actuality, performance improved little, if at all, in the test groups given a tipple – though they ranked themselves higher in terms of perceived performance. While the controversy continues splitting scientists, avoiding blackout drunkenness will certainly keep a brain healthy for everything that comes its way.

Listen to music

Scientific and engineering unfortunately receive little credit as truly creative pursuits, but they certainly are – and they just happen to benefit from the same stimuli as their painterly peers. Next time a theorem or AUTOCAD assignment starts drying up the well, as it were, take the advice of Georgia Tech’s Parag Chordia and indulge in something a little melodic. Future studies will delve into what specific musical styles impact the mind in what specific way, if any.

Blue, da ba di da ba dai

Come to find out, blue achieves far more than just calming down anxious patients at the dentist’s office. Tobias Funke was really onto something when he painted his entire body the venerable color, because come to find out it can actually bolster one’s creative spirit! Red also benefits cognitive function as well, though it improves the ability to process details – a necessary component of innovation.

Intentional culture shock

Blend “thinking outside the box” with “psychological” distance and dive headfirst (with proper research and resources, of course!) into one highly valuable strategy for nurturing creative thought. In their Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin paper, Hajo Adam, Adam Galinsky, and William Maddux extol the potential of spending a stint abroad. Even the tiniest of cultural differences piques the ol’ grey mass and challenges it to consider the world in bright new ways.

Interacting with technology

Most technological interfaces with a high degree of interactivity, such as those intended for design and art, engage the brain in ways traditional media never could. In addition to this additional stimulation, the University of Gothenburg study also believed the faster, easier programs also cut down prep time, meaning more energy pours into the actual creation process. Not to mention quicker edits and brand new techniques otherwise impossible with the standard pens, pencils, and paints.

Extended or flexible deadlines

Harvard’s Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration Teresa Amabile knows many people claim to create best when suffering beneath looming deadlines, but her research shows otherwise. For more than a decade, she’s studied interplay between creativity and time pressure and discovered the latter typically (though not always) holds negative sway over the former. Creativity thrives more in environments where deadlines wrap around minds, not the other way around.

Avoid brainstorming

And, if brainstorming is necessary, try to do it solo instead of in a group, as the latter tends to accomplish the exact opposite of the true intent. When multiple people participate, the dynamic usually begins obsessing over one particular idea, which discourages others from contributing to their fullest potential. These findings come courtesy of a collaboration between Texas A&M and University of Texas at Arlington researchers.

Rewards…kind of

Children do exhibit heightened creativity when presented with a reward for their efforts, but only if the association between task and receipt has already been pre-established. Interestingly enough, studies conflict over whether or not the findings extend into adulthood, as many believe a job well done elicits far more satisfaction than any award or honor. When it comes to the kiddies, though, consider training them with this tactic to challenge their growing minds.


Traveling gets expensive, and for the cash-strapped hoping to score a little perspective without forking over the dough should attempt learning a brand new language. A study conducted by the European Commission revealed that multilingual individuals enjoyed heightened creativity and innovations thanks to overall improved cognitive and problem-solving skills. So investing in those Rosetta Stone programs might very well bolster one’s own all-around mental performance.


Aerobic workouts are some of the simplest strategies for making the brain a very happy organ indeed. Not only will they generally lead to a more satisfied, positive mood, but it can lead to greater creativity in kind. Rather than pausing for nap time and struggling to sleep when sleep just won’t come, try 15 minutes of heart-healthy exercise instead.

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Total 1 comment
  • jenchen

    Love and creativity are one and the same. It all comes from the same source-the creator, God.
    What you people do is destroy.
    You think of creativity as a means to get rich-to be superior-that type of thinking is the opposite of God.
    It is the way Satan thinks.
    Because you are all about money=the religion of satan the source of all inequity-that destroys life.
    You will never be creative.
    You are not a part of God=you have chosen materialism/separation and inequity.
    All are one -all are equal in God-love-truth
    Creativity and magic are one and the same- miracles -creation is a miracle-something beautiful from nothing.
    Satanists such as yourselves-get something by destroying something else-like each other or the earth.
    Satanism has no magic-no miracles-nothing ever gets better-never evolves forward-only backwards regression.
    Why? because ultimately you get back what you give-when you destroy to get your result-then you will find that same destruction will return and destroy you.
    War is a satanic ritual-destruction of people and children sexual abuse-is destruction of children-
    But you child molesters say I love children as an excuse-the big lie=you want to destroy to create when you are a satanist-a sociopath with no love in you-that is competition-destroy the competition that is capitalism/satanism.
    You have chosen not to be creative-not to love-to fight and be the enemies of one another.
    have fun in Hell-getting all of the destruction back-hell where you have no fake false pride in how much money and stuff you have-no pleasures of the flesh
    It is your choice. You have free will.
    All you want to do is control out of fear-you are not love-you are not a part of God or tapped into creativity.
    Jesus could do miracles-the power of love working through him.
    You only have the power to destroy. Capitalism destroys-some get rich while others are enslaved and cruelly exploited.
    You chose science-technology and materialism-those things are not a part of God-they are satanic and destructive. You will always be mortal. You are all about to die-and you could have been like Jesus-but you reflect your true inner nature satan is the evil and suffering that exists and could have been prevented had you loved one another as Christ loved you-all over the earth-there is suffering-you do it-you are not creative-you are greedy for power and money-you care not to love one another-one of Gods 2miracles greatest commandment-there are only 2-you don’t love God-creativity to you is just a means to get rich.
    You are all garbage and satan is just the janitor who will clean you up and save the earth.
    Don’t expect to be loved if you can’t love. Love is not romance and ego like the jews portray it. Love is a power that makes something better-it does not destroy. You only have the power to control and destroy.
    People of earth are a toxic poison to all life.

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