Here's how to train your brain to be more creative

attention creativity habits Oct 29, 2022

When we believe we are not creative, we stop trying.  We recall the messages from childhood where judgment and discouragement were dished out, like bacon and eggs at breakfast.  The excitement of creating something new was deflated; we gave up.  Our energy to create eventually disappeared.

But, remember how much fun it was? 

My daughter told me about the first time she used finger paints at six years old.  She got a faraway look when she talked about the slick feel and the distinctive smell of the paint.   Her eyes sparkled when she talked about being bedazzled by the brilliant colors. The energy of that moment was still alive for her.

Wouldn’t it feel great to get that energy back again?  We can. It is always available for us, all we need to do is show up.

When we allow ourselves to begin, the energy will pull us along.  Allowing ourselves one moment at at time to dabble turns that moment into another, then another, then another… The energy of success is much more magnetic than the energy of discouragement. 

We can begin by training our brain to be creative. Here’s how to begin:

  • Decide.  Set an intention to be creative. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, just a simple decision.  We can tell ourself that on this day, I will do one different thing to stimulate my creativity.
  • Pause. Like the Creative Pause, choose to stop and make an effort.  Focus on the effort without regard to the final result. As time goes on, the results will eventually improve.
  • Pay attention deliberately.  We don’t need a reason to be creative, what we we need is our attention.  When we stop and focus on one teeny task, we are opening an energetic gate.  Try this:  Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. See? You just created relaxation.
  • Notice.  Take one moment to concentrate on one thing. Slow down. Pick a focal point as an end to itself. Look closely and carefully, and an entire world opens before our eyes.  That world is the doorway to our creative energy.
  • Be proactive.  We can tell ourself, “I want to be creative in this moment.” Perhaps it’s writing a haiku, perhaps it’s an attempt to draw a leaf. Set the intention to create.

Here’s the thing.  (Re)Training the brain to be more creative is done one baby step at a time. We’re not going to build that muscle until we begin to exercise it.

Start small and start now

Just like any habit, it won’t happen until we begin.  Start now, and make the creative challenge so tiny that it’s irresistible.

Here’s an example.  Right this minute, set down your phone or tablet, close the computer.   Set a timer for five minutes.  Allow your eyes to fall on one thing in the room around you.  Focus on it and notice everything about that one thing, the shape, the color, the size, the function, everything.  

Now, imagine changing one thing about it.  Perhaps the color, perhaps the direction it points, perhaps the shape, perhaps moving it to a different spot. Now, imagine another something different about it.  Keep it up. Let your imagination play with all kinds of options.  

There is no pressure to get any kind of result from this exercise.  It’s too soon to try to make “art” or repurpose, or do anything at all.  When the timer goes off, you’re done.

The idea is to train the brain, not strain it.  Thinking creatively is a natural way to think, we just forgot that we’re capable of doing it.  

Repeat this in odd moments during the day. Perhaps standing in line for your latte, or walking to your appointment, or even sitting on the toilet!  Five minutes, wherever your eye lands, imagine something else that could be.

You’ll find that this exercise gets to be more and more fun as you go. It builds the creative energy so that when you are ready to attempt some kind of “art,” your brain is primed and ready.

Start now.  Training the brain to be more creative is simple and fun!

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