We all know that in order to be good or even great at any sport, we need to train to be in peak physical shape to excel at the chosen activity. But, when it comes to our careers, we don’t seem to make the same correlation between peak performance and the shape of our bodies. For example, lack of sleep, poor diet, too much alcohol, massive amounts of stress, no exercise and staring endlessly at computer screens, are just a few of the things we put ourselves through. We all know these things are not good for us, but we do them anyway. However, what is the cost of these actions on our ability to be highly creative? What really interests me in regard to how we treat our physical bodies, is the correlation between our physical health and our ability to be innovative and creative whenever and wherever we want.
The discussion about where creativity actually comes from is a fascinating one and might be the topic of another article! Whether you believe it comes only from within us or comes through us from a higher consciousness, our ability to have our bodies in the right physical state to create it or to receive it is crucial. As a creative person who makes a living by always coming up with ideas, any way that I can increase my ability to create elegant and unique solutions to problems is of huge value.
As a product development consultant for over thirty years, I have definitely noticed what physical states work and which ones definitely don’t work in regard to improving my creative skills. Here are some habits I have adopted to increase my creative ability.
Physical Discipline – Physical discipline to me means doing what you tell yourself you will do. Not necessarily just the things you say out loud, but the little things you only say to yourself that no one else knows about. Not doing those things has an effect on how we feel about ourselves. I believe if we make it a habit of ignoring what we tell ourselves we want to do, it affects how we feel about ourselves and then gets in the way of our peak creative thoughts. When I tell myself that I am going to work out at 5pm and I go do it, regardless of how much I want to or not, I free my mind of the punishing thoughts that will surface if I blow it off. Those punishing thoughts I have found, over time, start to have an effect on my flow of creative ideas. If I tell myself that I will get up and stretch and move my body every twenty minutes when I am working at my computer and I don’t, then I feel less in control of my own mind. Not feeling in control of my own mind is a creativity killer. If I tell myself to live in the moment, quit worrying about the past or the future, and I don’t do that, then my creativity suffers as my mind space is consumed by the thoughts of what I didn’t do and the excuses of why. The mind needs to be open and receptive for creativity to flourish. The mind, left to its own devices, can be a real complainer sometimes, which has a real effect on the physical body and its state. Having physical discipline or in other words, control over ourselves is a crucial aspect of keeping the mind free and allowing the creative thoughts to prosper.
Belief and Faith – This is the most significant aspects that allows me to be creative more times than not. Believing that I could be a creative person on command didn’t happen overnight. I first made a decision that I was going to be faster at coming up with creative ideas, and then I worked at it year after year. It did get easier and easier, until I didn’t worry that much about being creative. That led me to the ability to believe and have faith that in the future; I would be able to be creative on command.
Having the confidence to know that you can and will find a creative solution takes continued practice, constant education and increasing knowledge. It is a very wonderful feeling to be in the creative state with ideas flowing. I believe that as human beings, the ability to be creative is one of our highest callings on Earth, and for that reason, it is worth all the effort and energy required to be in that state as much as possible.
Reduce Physical Stress – Too much stress is a killer to our bodies. Reducing our stress to a good level is one of the best things we can do to increase our creative confidence. When we are overly stressed we physically start to break down and our minds function less and less efficiently. It is why there is awareness that working extra long hours, or always being available for work is counterproductive. The reality is after an excessive number of work hours, the ideas we come up with get less and less creative. In the right physical state, a great idea can take minutes, and in the wrong physical state you can hammer away for days and get nowhere.
Alcohol Consumption – Let’s just put this out there; I really enjoy drinking with friends. It is fun for me and I have tons of great memories. The other side of that coin is that it also can affect how creative I am, in small but insidious ways. I recently took an entire month off from any alcohol. At the end of the month, I realized I had a substantial amount of increased energy. It was easier for me to get up in the morning and I was less exhausted in the evenings after work. I noticed that my attention span during the day was greater. I could focus more easily and the feeling of boredom or the need to distract, that sometimes overtakes me when trying to solve a really difficult problem, was lessened. It was much easier to get into and stay in the creative state where really great ideas flow to or through me. The point is not whether to drink or not, but to be aware of every action we take in regard to our mind and physical body. We must try not to abuse the body so much that it makes mind mastery control even harder.
Get Out Of Bed On Time – Some people swear that the best time to be creative is in the early morning. I don’t really know if it is true or not or just personal preference. What I do know is that my job requires me to be creative at all times throughout the day. At a moment’s notice I can be called into a meeting to review a design, or have a phone conversation brainstorming with a client or looking for a solution to a problem that just arose. When I get out of bed at the time I committed, I have improved creativity and feel more in control of my mind and physical being. I am starting my day with intention and purpose. That simple action increases my confidence and I feel more in control of my mental state. My physical state is no longer ruling my mind. Similar to some of the other points in this article, mastery of the mind over the physical can help increase creativity. Train both the mind and body to work together, which creates mind / body harmony and watch your thinking and creative power increase.
Sleep – I believe that too much sleep is just as bad as too little for our creative abilities. What is the right amount of sleep is anyone’s guess. When I found the right amount of sleep for me, the best times for me to go to sleep and the best time to wake up, I noticed that I was more “on” when it came to having creative ideas at the ready.
Hunger – Eating just the right amount of food is important, and since most of us want to be creative during the work day, breakfast, lunch and mid-meal snacks are the meals of importance. Eating large meals or heavy food is a creativity killer, in my experience. The body is forced to use precious energy to digest the food and that takes energy away from the creative process. It also can lead to feeling lethargic or maybe even a bit sleepy. On the other hand, eating more vegetables with a smaller amount of protein, just enough to be satiated but not overly full, can leave you feeling alert and awake. In the quest to be in as creative a state as possible, every advantage is a benefit.
There is really no one thing that leads us into becoming a creative machine. But, I have found that some of my happiest moments are when I am creative. For that reason, anything I can do to foster that creativity seems worth it. From my experience it has been a lot of little things all together that has made the real difference in my ability to be creative. Our physical bodies are the only thing we have to carry us around on this Earth. If taking care of them is part of a happy and fulfilled life, and one that is full of creativity as a result, then sign me up!
If you need help executing your next creative product endeavor, please look us up at www.driveninnovation.com