American culture supports & rewards the analytical left-brain thinking; yet it is in the right brain where the magic happens. We can logically think through problems with our left-brain, but how often do we become blocked or stuck on an issue? Or, how often do our solutions actually solve the problem as we intended without creating new problems?
“Problems cannot truly be solved with the same mindset that created them.” – Albert Einstein
We are at a point in time when the problems are many and the solutions posed host a myriad of challenges of their own to implement. So how do we break through these challenges? By honoring and fostering our right brain, our creative centers and engaging our minds and each other in new ways.
Science has proven that when we activate our right brain we experience breakthroughs - in our relationships, at work and in our internal processing. When I work with groups, I tend to boil it down and say, “The HAHA creates the AHA!” That’s why having fun with brainstorming is an effective tool. Creative skills and linear skills are complementary; yet fostering our creative side is difficult in the dominant left-brain culture of today.
In this article, I will share three tools to support you in tapping into your deep well of creativity. Regardless of how you creativity gets expressed, the root of your inner creative genius lies in listening to your impulses.
Easier said than done, right? We all live with a nasty inner voice that burdens us with “shouldas” and within a culture that prefers vanilla to rainbows. You can see it in how we speak - using only a fraction of our vocal range. In how we act - not being visibly angry, crying, overly joyful, any of the extremes, in public. So how do we get more in touch with our impulses and liberate ourselves from our self- and culturally restricting beliefs and behaviors?
What Did You Enjoy As A Kid?
One way to get in touch with you impulsive self is to engage in child-like activities. When you were a kid did you build forts? Paint rocks? Dance? Act? Sing? Play in the dirt? Play with Legos? Model planes and cars? Lincoln logs? Whatever your childhood hobby was, are you still practicing that pursuit or a form of it? Most of us have “grown out of” “that phase,” and I would argue that this thought is limiting at best and unhealthy at worst. Hark back to your favorite childhood hobby and give it another go. Go play tag with some friends; make some sand castles; sign up for a martial arts class. Whatever your youthful-self enjoyed doing, there are clues in that activity to help you unlock your creative gifts.
Heighten Your Sensory Awareness
Another way to awaken your creative genius, is to tap into the power of your senses, to heighten your sensory awareness. We are so inundated with sensory inputs, so out of self-preservation we tune out much of the sensory inputs that surround us, and thus miss out on so many inputs that spark creative thought. If we didn’t do this, we would be paralyzed and overwhelmed. And if we never tap into our senses, deeply, we lose access to our creative gifts.
Think about a smell that ignites an emotion. A taste that sends you back in time. A sight that triggers a déjà vu moment. These are all examples of how your senses illuminate your impulses, and your impulses are guides to unleashing your creativity.
There are many ways to heighten your sensory awareness and the one I encourage folks to use is a simple practice that can be done anywhere at anytime using any sense. The more you develop this practice for all your senses, the more in touch you become with the impulses that your senses spark. And by following these impulses you will organically begin experiencing and expressing more creativity. Click here to review a handout that walks you through this practice.
Modern life, with its many distractions has the tendency to grab the attention of our subconscious, and as result, the creative process stops and is replaced by more immediate concerns - text messages, checking our email, doing the next thing on our list, etc. By carving out time for your conscious self to relax you make space for your subconscious to work on the important questions you are grappling with. When you allow yourself time to incubate you are allowing your subconscious mind to go to work on that idea, make new connections and connect disparate thoughts.
This process of incubating explains why so many of our great ideas come to us at the strangest of times – in the shower, at 2:37am, while on a run, essentially, while doing anything but focused thinking. Incubate by not checking your phone for the first 30 minutes of your morning; by meditating for five minutes every day; by going on a stroll; by engaging in any activity that relaxes you and helps you turn your busy mind off.
Our culture supports left-brain thinking, yet our right brain, our creative center, must be supported too if we are to increase our ability to solve and make progress on the issues we spend our time resolving, and reimagining. Left-brain dominant thinking has been the driver of business for eons, and if we want to begin shifting the paradigm and expanding the potential of our professional pursuits, we are going to need to honor and develop the other half of our brains.