Research studies from 2018, show that creativity is associated with the activation of our executive control network, part of the pre-frontal cortex inside our brain. Thus researchers agree that a great majority of the time we perceive something novel, we begin to activate our long-term memory as our brain needs to make sense of the new information we’re confronted with. We begin to unconsciously combine our existing knowledge on things such as places, emotions, and events of our past. This is the origin of where creative ideas arise. But how can you begin to purposely train yourself for creativity or ‘divergent thinking’?
#1 Creativity Loop
Multiple researchers agree that creativity works like a feedback loop. Higher creativity has been associated with rational emotional functioning.
Engagement in creative activity predicts significant increases next-day well-being and further creative thinking. Thus engagement in creative activity and increased psychological well-being have a reciprocal effect on each other. In this respect, creative activities and well-being fuel each other for steady increase.
An effective way to get into a state of well-being has been shown through engagement in activity a person finds particular enthusiasm, energy, and excitement for. Such activities help us flourish mentally and emotionally, hence promoting our psychological well-being thus leading to increased divergent thinking.
#2 Betting on your individuality
You may have stumbled across the term ‘intrinsic motivation’. It means being motivated from within. Recent research has shown that greater creative thinking is associated with activity that creates feelings of inner joy and fulfillment in people. Such intrinsic drives often reflect a person’s individual and unique talents. These talents create a natural interest to explore problems on a very personal and self-devised approach.
Highly creative people, therefore consistently seek to find their personal and unique strengths and focus on building these. This helps creativity to flourish naturally.
#3 Eliminate constraints to freedom
Creativity can best flourish when as many constraints to freedom are eliminated. Such constraints may include anything from rules or strict guidelines that have to be stuck to during a task at hand. Highly creative thinking emerges when people are given a great extent of autonomy, allowing them to approach the problem through use of their individual talents and skills.
In this respect, narrowing guidelines should be avoided. More effective ways to promote creativity show that creativity is at its best when focusing on a bigger goal, rather than on working on small and specific goals that are linked to the overall goal.
Highly creative thinking can then emerge when as many instructions to achieving the overall goal are eliminated. This opens brain areas up for wider and more open thinking… also known as ‘thinking outside the box’.
#4 Activating your brain
Too often, getting started on a task may seem difficult for many. The mind goes blank. Research in neuroscience through the use of brain scans has shown that once we begin to start an activity or the task at hand, our brain begins to activate further areas, such as the Executive Control Network (ECN), part of our pre-frontal cortex, which in turn increased creative thinking.
To activate our brain for creative thinking, an efficient way is therefore to start. Whether that be starting to write a research paper, report or other physical activity. The neurons in our brains are interconnected, hence allowing further areas of the brain to be activated through engagement in other areas.
#5 Enjoy failure
Research at the University of New Mexico has found that when we casually accept and embrace failure at something, our pre-frontal cortex, tends to search for a creative solution to the problem. The more wired our brain is for creativity the easier this is becomes.
If not, asking yourself provocative questions like ‘How can I turn this situation around?’ or ‘What can I do right now rise to a new level?’ can help spark great ideas in your mind.
Take-home message. Creativity is a skill that some of us have more than others. We all have someone in our lives who we consider super duper creative. Yet many people tend to forget that creativity is a skill that can be learned. Just like any other skill in life! by continually practicing these ways for creativity, we can hardwire our brain for creativity.