You don’t need me to tell you how important creativity is. Suffice to say that if you want to compete in the modern workforce you can’t afford to be robotic. People who think like robots are being replaced by… robots. Fortunately, I’m a creative genius and I’m here to teach you to be more like me.
Commence the listicle!
1 – Unleash the Awesome Power of Boredom
1992, summer. 24 years before Pokemon Go put the final nail in boredom’s coffin. I’m in the back garden trying to find something fun to do with my brother. We’ve played soccer and tennis for hours. The magic is gone.
‘This is so boring…’ he laments, thrashing a daisy with a twig.
He’s not wrong. ‘Have we still got that swing tennis set?‘
‘Swing tennis? That’s so last year.’
He was right again – swing tennis was as out of style as ’The Bartman’. We needed something fresh, something that fit the 1992 gestalt. I sighed and looked around.
For some reason there was a mattress behind the trashcan. ‘What if…’ I said slowly, ‘we propped that up against the wall… Use this trashcan lid as a shield… Right, you try and hit the mattress with the ball and I’ll defend it.’
‘The soccer ball or the tennis ball?’
‘Oh, definitely both at the same time.’
‘How do we know I’ve hit the mattress?’
’When this frisbee falls off.’
And that’s how we created Ultraball 3000, the best sport ever. It gave us many, many hours of fun.
There’s something magical that can happen when you stop shoving input into your brain. Recent research shows that boredom stimulates creative centers in the brain, lets people make new connections, and promotes creative output.
But how often are we truly bored any more?
There are more than 600,000 games in the Apple Store available to play any time, day or night. From anywhere in the world, you can call up the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle, learn Spanish, or stalk your ex-boyfriend. There’s a reason Archimedes had his Eureka moment in the bath – he had nothing to do except sit and soak, and his brain was free to roam. And there’s a reason the subreddit where people share interesting ideas they’ve had is called ‘shower thoughts’ – because the shower is one of the only places kids these days don’t bring their phone.
So if you want to get more creative, you’ve got to get away from your smartphone. Hide it in a drawer and get yourself so bored it hurts.
2 – Annihilate Your Inner Critic by Joining Nanowrimo
Worry about what people think of your ideas?
Ptsch! When’s the last time THEY had a good idea? These are the people who rejected Harry Potter, said the iPhone would never take off, and passed on The Beatles.
So the only critic you should really take any notice of is YOU. You’re a perfectionist who never finishes anything because what you’ve done doesn’t match your expectations. Your hard drive is bursting with unfinished projects. Your brain shoots down ideas before you’ve even finished having them.
That’s why you should sign up to the National Novel Writing Month. You have to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Think about that for a second. 50,000 words.
You have NO time to edit. NO time to listen to your doubts. You HAVE to press ahead.
And what happens? First, you finish something. That’s important enough.
But also, you realise those doubting voices in your head are much less present. You’re much more likely to act on your ideas, whether good or bad. And you find that some of your bad ones aren’t so bad after all…
3 – Stay Silly
Have you ever noticed that kids are way more creative than adults? You’ve probably heard a child explaining some mental drawing they’ve just scrawled. ‘This is the wizard and those are cabbages and he’s got a cat which is also the moon.’ Don’t worry – that kid will have every spark of creativity snuffed out and stamped on by their parents, teachers, and the rest of society soon enough.
But you can learn from those little tykes! Risk-taking, silliness, and playfulness come second nature to children, and that’s why they have no problem being creative.
Create a throwaway Reddit account and join the joke-telling and story-writing subreddits. Think up some awful puns, post some late-night Harry Potter fan fiction. Get weird with it! It’s just an outlet for you to get in touch with your inner child, so don’t worry about what reception you’ll get.
4 – Enjoy the Process, Not the Outcome
Getting hung up on how many words you’ve written or how much people like your writing/jokes/business ideas is a sure way to stop your creative synapses firing. When I had some writing homework in school, I’d get a couple of cookies, lie on the floor kicking my legs, and write. The cookies made sure I was in a good frame of mind.
When I was a bit older and had ‘outgrown’ cookies, I sat at my desk feeling serious and wrote serious things in a serious way. And writing became agony and I learned to hate it.
Fortunately one of those ‘circle of life’ things happened and now I’m back to working while surrounded by treats (but not too much! See section 5). If this post gets 5 Facebook shares or 1.2 million LinkedIn views I’ll be equally content. Because as soon as I’ve finished typing this last sentence I’m going to sit in my massage chair and eat cheesecake.
5- Mindful Eating
Pizza, ice cream, cheesecake and tons of coffee. All wonderful stuff while you’re masticating but you know what happens after. You get drowsy, foggy, and turn right into a hibernating panda. Bad food does that to us.
In contrast, healthy food choices are guaranteed to keep you more awake and bursting with energy and ideas. Apart from the usual diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids, try superfoods like maca, ginseng, bee pollen, coconut oil, and green tea.
If you can’t get to these in their raw form, you can try adding them into your daily intake via food supplements. For when you need a short burst of focus and concentration (like before an exam or a big presentation), you could try a smart drug. There’s more info on this fast-growing industry in my bio.
Right, pep talk over. You know everything you need to know. Get to it!
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Author: Chad Pennington
Interested in neuroscience, creativity, and using nootropic smart drugs to enhance the human condition