Monthly Archives: July 2016

How to Swap Your Brain For a More Creative One

 

Ever have those moments when no light bulbs are going off in your mind? Maybe you have a project due or an article, or maybe you’re staring at a blank sheet of paper or canvas. You desperately need inspiration, but your muse has decided to take a vacation.7848411730_2042b607b4_o

Here are some suggestions to jumpstart your more creative side:

  1. Stop fretting and exercise.

I once had a professor tell me that if I was stuck, I should get up from my computer and walk backward around my house. She said that walking backward used a different section of the brain than sitting and writing, and that by using a different part of my brain, I might just become unstuck.

People who exercise regularly tend to be more creative than those who lead sedentary lives, a study found. Regular exercise stimulates convergent and divergent thinking, two forms of thinking vital to creativity. Convergent thinking is connected with thinking about a single solution for one issue, while divergent thinking is linked to considering various solutions for one issue.

  1. Be positive.

A good mood enables you to think more creatively. Ruby Nadler, a University of Western Ontario graduate student, said, “Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking.”

Mood affects “the way we visually process information.” A positive mood widens how much we see and comprehend. By having a wider visual field, we have a larger pool of ideas to generate content from.

  1. Flip the problem on its head.

Focusing on a problem from a new angle inspires you to see and think about the problem differently.

In Real Simple, the idea of cars is used to describe how problem reversal revolutionized all of industry: “Take Henry Ford. In the beginning, carmakers kept the vehicle stationary and had factory workers congregate around it to install parts. Ford’s idea was to keep the workers stationary and move the car from worker to worker. Thus was born the assembly line.”

By only looking at a problem one way, you limit your ability to generate new concepts. By changing up how you look at a problem, you expand your thinking and may not only find a solution, but start off a string of new, exciting ideas.

How do you bring out your more creative side?

(Photo courtesy of MissTessmacher.)

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Eating for Creativity

 

1476058071_126e420a86_oIt’s a common known fact that what we eat effects how we feel. When we feel better, we tend to be more creative, which in turn helps us to write more detailed, emotionally impactful, and original content.

So, what are some types of food that can help us to be more creative?

Fruit

Fruit, like berries and avocados, is high in an amino acid called tyrosine, which helps stimulate production of dopamine. This protein helps keep our bodies and minds in good shape.

Lorenza Colzato, a cognitive psychologist, stated, “Food rich in tyrosine and food supplements that include tyrosine are a healthy and cheap way to increase our ability to think deeply.”

Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple products, believed that his creative ingenuity resulted from the high levels of fruit he consumed. Whether or not Steve Jobs’ fruit eating habits aiding in his technical ingenuity, you should avoid becoming a fruitarian, a person who only consumes fruits, because many other foods help fuel creativity.

Chocolate

Chocolate can help increase short-term cognitive functions, according to a 2007 English study. This is due to the flavanols contained within chocolate. Flavanols can enhance oxygen levels within the brain.

Dr. Ian MacDonald stated, “Acute consumption of this particular flavanol-rich coca beverage was associated with increased gray matter flow for two to three hours.”

I’d go with more natural chocolate, such as Enjoy Life’s vegan and gluten free chocolates. They contain less processed and artificial foods, and are stunningly delicious.

Complex Carbohydrates 

While carbohydrates are yummy, and you sometimes find yourself making excusing to eat more carbohydrates, not all carbs are the same. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and are better regulated by the body than simple carbohydrates.

So, as much as you may like white bread, trade it for some brown rice, barley, whole grain bread, or oatmeal.

Complex carbohydrates can increase glucose within the brain, and thus stimulate the brain. This means better memory and concentration, both of which are vital to creativity.

As Dr. Arnold Scheibel said, “Your body quickly takes glucose out of the carbohydrates and feeds it to your brain to help it function.”

General Information 

Other foods that are antioxidant-rich, such as beets, yams, and dark leafy green vegetables (I’m talking about kale, swiss chard, and the like), are excellent for spikes in creativity.

The bottom line: eat foods that are less processed because more processed foods contain chemical ingredients that aren’t natural to bodily processes. And, always, eat in moderation. Chocolate is good for you, until you eat too much. It’s difficult to be creative, when you feel like you’re going to vomit.

What foods do you find help your creativity?

(Photo courtesy of Yamanaka Tamaki.)

7 Blog Posts Sure to Wash Your Rainy Day Away

 

17207988968_9ca58cbdc4_oEveryone has those days where nothing seems to go right. Lady Luck is nursing a hangover. Karma decided to kick you in the butt. All you want to do is crawl under your covers and start anew tomorrow.

Let’s face it. Writers probably have a good number of those days, whether it’s because we wrote ourselves into a corner or got yet another rejection from a literary agent.

But, since hiding out under the covers isn’t feasible, here are seven links to blog posts that inspired me. I hope they inspire you too.

  1. The problem isn’t that life is unfair – it’s your broken idea of fairness

This article reaffirmed what I knew to be true, but didn’t want to admit. Life isn’t like what you were told when you were little. Just because you work hard or are a good person, doesn’t mean you’ll get everything you want.

However, once you master the real rules of life, you’ll be able to accomplish your goals. This article helps you toward figuring out and taking control of life’s rules.

But what’s almost more interesting than the article, are the comments that follow.

  1. Compatibility and Chemistry In Relationships

If you’re like me, you’ve used compatibility and chemistry interchangeably in the dating world. But compatibility and chemistry are two different concepts. This article delves into the differences between compatibility and chemistry, and why both concepts are necessary for a happy, loving relationship.

  1. The Pain & Beauty of Life Changes

This post comes from the blog, “zen habits.” A minimalist-style blog, zen habits tells it like it is, and then offers ways to increase life satisfaction by providing an alternative perception of the world.

One of my favorite aspects of this article is how the inevitability of change is presented in both a painful and beautiful light. Without change, stagnancy occurs. Change is necessary to evolve. Yet, most people resist change, and therefore create suffering for themselves. Through change, life can improve, but only if you embrace the change.

  1. 12 Lessons of Waking Up at 4:30 a.m. for 21 Days

I don’t know if I’d be able to do this, but I give props to Filipe, and to his new world view. This article is about more than waking up before the sun. It’s about eliminating obstacles and committing to a plan. The consequence of which is becoming more productive.

If I woke up at 4:30 a.m., I could get in a morning workout, or write for two hours before work. One of my professors told me that it’s good to write before your brain fully turns on, because when your brain is fully awake, your judge—that critic within you, who nitpicks your work—makes it harder for you to be creative.

  1. Find What You Love and Let It Kill You

All of these articles apply to writers in some way, but this one showcases how necessary it is for writers to write what they’re passionate about. As Gene Fowler said, “Writing is easy; all you have to do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.”

  1. Fear is the Root of Your Problems

This article ties into the next. Many times in life we find ourselves up against something we fear. Often times, we don’t consciously recognize that the problem we’re currently having is based in fear. In this post, dealing with fear is addressed.

One part of this post I enjoy is how fear isn’t seen as the enemy. Fear is an integral part of us. Seeing fear as something we must destroy only harms us.

  1. Finding Peace with Uncertainty

I put this last because uncertainty is a huge part of a writer’s life. In this article, learning how to be okay with and even look forward to uncertainty is explored.

In the literary world, where less than one percent of writers become traditionally published authors, we have to learn to coexist with uncertainty. It’s the only way we’ll persevere.

What are some articles that have inspired you?

(Photo courtesy of john mcsporran.)

Surprising Facts About The Fourth of July

 

14396155289_f633f02359_oHappy Fourth of July, America! Whether you’re an American or not, you understand what Independence Day signifies.

Freedom.

Thinking of the Fourth of July conjures images of barbecues, parades, and fireworks. The birth of an independent nation.

However, did you know that the Second of July was the real Independence Day? On July 2, 1774, America’s Congress ruled in favor of independence. However, it took Congress two days to fully accept Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Congress made several changes first, including cutting the Declaration by one-fourth and discarding all language regarding slavery to appease delegates from South Carolina and Georgia.

More than that, Independence Day didn’t become a national holiday until 1870! Americans had been celebrating the Fourth of July since 1777, but it wasn’t until Congress passed a bill in 1870 recognizing significant state holidays as federal holidays that Independence Day was officially recognized. And then, the Fourth of July didn’t become a paid federal holiday until 1938.

But now as an official, paid federal holiday, Americans surge outdoors to watch parades and barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs. So many hot dogs are consumed on the Fourth of July that Independence Day is the “biggest hot-dog holiday of the year.” About 155 millions hot dogs are eaten on July Fourth. That’s a lot of hot dogs!

So, whatever your plans are today, whether it’s eating hot dogs at a parade, running around the backyard with sparklers, or waiting for your nation’s independence day holiday, enjoy today.

What’s your favorite thing to do on Independence Day?

(Photo courtesy of Julie Falk.)