10 Tips for Thinking More Creatively

The Wall Street Journal

What is it that makes some people so creative? Why is it that certain people seem to have a million ideas about how to set up their living spaces, while others of us just stare into space and can't seem to come up with even one? Why is it that some people seem to be natural innovators, while others of us struggle to come up with the next bright idea? Are creative types born, or made?

In his new book, Imagine, Jonah Leher claims that everyone has the potential to be creative. Leher explains that creativity is a skill that, with proper effort and diligence, can be honed like a finely-sculpted muscle. In his book, and subsequent interview with the Wall Street Journal, he shares "10 Quick Creativity Hacks." Leher's book is filled with detailed explanations of the science that backs his premise. Here is a quick summary of his ten tips for helping us all to think a bit more creatively:

1. Surround yourself in shades of blue. Studies show that the color blue leads to more relaxed and associative thinking.

2. Linger in bed a bit longer. Studies show that you are more creative when you are groggy.

3. Drift off in a daydream. Research has shown that people who daydream more score higher on creativity tests.

4. Channel your Inner Child. When people imagine themselves as children, they score much higher on tests of divergent thinking.

5. Get a case of the giggles. After watching comedy videos, people score higher on insight puzzles.

6. Think of a far away land. Students performed better on creativity tests when they thought the tests came from places that were far away as opposed to local.

7. Use general language. When problems are posed using specific language, people tend to think in more narrow terms. Generic terms breed broader thinking.

8. Think outside of the box, literally. A study showed that people scored higher on creativity tests when seated outside of a 5-foot-square workspace.

9. Travel far and wide. Research shows that students who have lived abroad possess an increased level of open-mindedness and creativity.

10. Move to the big city. Physicists at the Santa Fe Institute found that after moving to a city that was two times as large, inventors created about 15% more patents.

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