How do you improve creativity?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea, but don’t get up to jot it down? How about when you’re out jogging, does some creative idea simply knock your socks off, but by the time you get home to put it on paper you have forgotten it? It can get frustrating. I often get my best ideas while taking a shower. Doesn’t it seem your best thoughts jump out at your at the most inconvenient times?

Ideas are part of your daily life. We think about what we’d like for dinner, or see something on television that would make a great gift for your spouse. Your brain is hard-wired to continue thinking, taking in information, and memorizing. So why, during the course of a normal day, the best ideas seem to come at the most inopportune times?

The answer really is really quite simple. Those off-the-wall moments are when our brains are relaxed and the creative ideas are allowed to flow uninhibited by distractions.

Our subconscious is the source of our creativity. When we are consumed with everyday distractions – taking the kids to soccer practice or running an errand for the boss, our minds are cluttered with thoughts. It is when we start to unwind – by doing simple things that relax us, like taking a shower or going for a walk, our creative juices that have been standing at the gate of our subconscious are ready to be allowed to start the race.

Albert Einstein used to get away from his work and go to play his violin or a piano. His sister used to say that he almost lost himself in the music, and all of a sudden he would stand up and yell, “Ah Ha! I’ve got it!” Many people who work in creative arts – writers, artists and even scientists say they get their “Ah Ha” moments when they are not thinking about the problem, but have backed away and taken a break. Ideas come better when we allow ourselves recreational time, or start to work on something unrelated to our usual work.

Our mental yin and yang (conscious and unconscious minds) work as a team – although the sometimes-crotchety conscious mind can bully the subconscious into taking a back seat. They work at different levels, and tasks are assigned to them based on their level of strength. The conscious mind is good with analyzing problems and details. The subconscious mind is better at making decisions, looking at the big picture, and being creative.

There are ways we can flip on that creative switch in the subconscious. Find a new way to relax, and for everyone that can be different. Sometimes even sitting down with a cup of coffee can get your brain functions working together. There is also meditation, creative games, learning new skills or even just putting your brain into neutral by doing repetitive tasks that don’t require a lot of conscious thinking.

It’s a little strange to think that our conscious and unconscious mind can work on the same task simultaneously. For example: typing requires you to think of what you want to write, but your subconscious is doing the job of putting your actions into words – literally! When you conscious mind takes over you will actually find yourself slowing down. Think of how much slower you type when you have to think about what keys to press.

We need to get our subconscious a little more slack, and not let our conscious mind take over as often. With both sides working to come to a solution it probably will turn out better than you had expected.

Relaxing opens up your mind to receive new lessons, and processes new ideas. It’s an excellent memory improvement technique, and one that we all should practice much more often. In the meantime, I’m going to finish this story and take a shower.

From the desk of Ron White





Scott Berkin – Why You Get Your Best Ideas IN the Shower:

Creative – How to Boost Your Unconscious Creativity: