You may eat your veggies and take your vitamins, but it's difficult to really be in good health if your creative spirit is frustrated. We're not just talking art, music, dance and poetry here. Unleashing the potential for innovation is about firing neurons in fresh ways, shaking off old habits and conjuring new and splendid solutions to get past what hampers you.
Don't be stalled by the idea that everyone else is creative but you -- it's just that some people have more experience inspiring themselves. And even very accomplished and expressive souls sometimes hit a wall and need to reconfigure breakthrough strategies. Think of creativity as a method to be mastered. There are wonderful books out there like The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, Pencil Dancing by Mari Messer and How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb.
All experts agree that journalling is one of the most effective starting points. Get a special notebook and first thing in the morning, write for half an hour in a stream of consciousness. Don't let the pen leave the paper, no matter how banal. What emerges will surprise you. Read it over and underline themes and interesting formulations. This is an exercise in clearing the mind, giving permission for submerged thoughts, resurrecting memories and insights, and getting in touch with the authentic you. Be endlessly fascinated by what your mind turns up.
Construct part of your week as "I can't imagine what will happen" time when you hang out and observe what you do. Create a personalized space -- whether a corner of your apartment or a place in the basement where you habituate yourself to acts of self-expression. Be willing to break your routine to see how you react to the challenge of spontaneity. Collect useless information to teach yourself how the most unconnected things are ultimately linked. Develop a list of the moments in your life when you felt the most creative and meditate on what conditions inspired you. Carry a notebook everywhere and jot down questions, ideas -- anything. No quality necessary. It's just an aid to generate mental leaps.
Many sages recommend failure -- often. Mistakes are the crucible of self-expression. Ask yourself what kinds of things you would do differently if you had no fear of making mistakes. Get a paper. List them. Try doing some of them. Learn from your failures.
Research shows more compelling results when people create for its own sake not in order to impress.
"To keep creativity alive, risk-taking is important, and knowing the difference between risk-taking and recklessness. Risk means doing something out of character as an experiment, without the guarantee of a particular outcome. Recklessness is usually linked to defiance. We talk about taking risks in the context of contact with others. The whole basis of Gestalt is experimenting with different approaches and embracing your screw-ups with a curious eye."
JoANNE GREENHAM, Gestalt trainer and psychotherapist
"You have to define what you want. Beaming out what you don't does not create anything. People say they don't want a 9-to-5 job, but what they need to focus on is what they do want. If you get really clear on that in your mind, all the parameters of it, then it starts to show up in physical form."
HEATHER SKELTON, certified coach
"Creativity at its best is generative of a better future. An emphasis on mere problem-solving is inward-looking and deficit-based. It's like filling potholes to keep the road smooth instead of inventing flight, for instance. You need to have free space in your life. If you fill it up regularly, it'll leak everywhere else in your life."
DARLENE RUSSELL, trainer of workplace coaches, storyteller
"We've been told that you're only creative if you are an artist. I think that is linked to globalization and has definitely killed creativity in our culture. We need to get to the point where anybody can get up and dance."
LINDSAY TELFER, radical cheerleader