Jumpstart Your Creativity

Whenever we churn out something out-of-the-ordinary, we open ourselves to scrutiny and criticism. In many cases, our own inner critic is the most effective at shooting things down. It’s hard to be creative when you’re constantly worried that x, y or z won’t be good enough.

When children draw, they don’t worry about making mistakes; they take risks, do their own thing and have fun. Yet if most adults picked up a sketchpad, they would start thinking, “That doesn’t look right,” “that’s not good enough” from the very beginning.

The inner critic tightens your mind and blocks creative flow, so find any way to silence this negative voice. For example, give yourself permission to brainstorm by automatically writing down ideas as you think of them — then worry later whether they’re any good.

In addition to music, you can experiment with color. A 2009 study at the University of British of Columbia found the color blue led to more relaxed and creative thinking, while red boosted performance on more detail-oriented tasks like proofreading.

“Thanks to stop signs, emergency vehicles and teachers’ red pens, we associate red with danger, mistakes and caution,” said Juliet Zhu, author of the study. “The avoidance motivation, or heightened state, that red activates makes us vigilant and thus helps us perform tasks where careful attention is required to produce a right or wrong answer.

“Through associations with the sky, the ocean and water, most people associate blue with openness, peace and tranquility. The benign cues make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory,” Zhu added.

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