Life in general tends to be very serious and often we are required to behave in a serious way. However, when you want to spice up and activate your creative juices, fun is of the essence. It will activate your inner child that in return will take your creative abilities to new levels. In this post, I’ll be describing some actions and behaviors that will help you to unleash and empower your inner child so that your creative confidence gets magnified.
Don’t worry – be happy!
Smile and keep it up! Your life will immediately feel its positive power and impact.
Q: Hang on chief, creativity is serious stuff, so why is this so important in generating ideas?
A: Good question! In a nutshell, being happy and keeping up a smile alters your thinking as well as your behavior. They re-wire your brain and bring you in a positive state of mind that is required to feed your creativity. They enable you to look at things in a more constructive and collaborative way so that ideas get nurtured and build. Last, but not least, they make you more socially liked – which is always good right?
Q: Uhm, care to elaborate?
A: Of course. Obviously, you can only have fun when you are in a happy state of mind. As a result, you’ll laugh a lot more and it is exactly that what triggers several things to happen within our body and minds. Let’s get a little scientific here. Just like physical activity, laughter increases the release of endorphins in your brain.
Q: Ok doc, what does that mean?
A: Endorphins are neurotransmitters, in other words; awesome messengers within our nervous system. They ensure the body to receive the right set of information.
Q: Sounds great, but what’s the effect?
A: Well, an increase in the level of endorphins decreases the feeling of pain and will fight off any negative effects of stress. This can lead to a feeling of euphoria and will increase your energy as well as your confidence level.
Q: Ok chief, but how does this help us in becoming more creative and generating ideas?
A: Aha, remember that your inner child thrives when it has no boundaries and can explore endless possibilities. By reducing your stress levels, you will feel more confident and comfortable to explore new domains and to tap into your creative juices. As a result the doors to your creative thinking will open up.
Q: Cool, but what about being more socially liked?
A: Ok, let me answer this one with a question. Who would you feel most comfortable approaching – somebody that is laughing and smiling or somebody that is frowning or looking angry? I guess that‘s a fairly easy one to answer as the latter just creates distance between people. So on top of it changing your mindset and behavior, through smiling you’ll be perceived as more likable and people will feel more comfortable to approach you and to work with you. It is no surprise why comedy shows put laugh tracks over the audio because it invites and stimulates the viewers to join and participate ‘unconsciously’ in the atmosphere created by the show. Also, have you ever tried not to smile back to somebody who was genuinely smiling to you? You’ll find it hard not to reciprocate this gesture with a smile of yourself.
Q: Interesting stuff! Are there any quick & practical tips I can take forward?
A: YES you can and you can start now!
Whilst the brain tricks us in how we perceive the world around us – by altering our memories and creating hidden biases – it’s great to know that you can turn the tables. It has been proven that you can trick the brain to get you in a state of happiness. Although the brain can change your memories, they are actually one of the strongest allies in the pursuit to that state of happiness. Just by tapping into memories and thinking back about the happiest moments in your life, your brain will rewire itself on the spot. Close your eyes and bring that great memory to life by visualizing it and by leveraging all of your senses so that you capture every detail as well as all the related emotions. This will ensure you to fully re-live the fabulous past experience and before you know it, a smile will appear upon your face and good feelings will embrace you.
Once you know the drill you can use more recent examples and increase the frequency so that your state of happiness endures and becomes habitual. You can do this by recognizing and remembering the positive daily moments you’ve experienced. Additionally, you can stimulate it by doing good things for others. Besides the fact that this boosts your happiness, it also creates and nurtures relationships. Obviously, the most powerful generators to a happy state of mind are those that are truly genuine, but that said, the brain can be tricked artificially into the state of happiness. Just by putting your facial muscles into a smile position will do the trick. In order to do so, you can put a pencil in your mouth for some time and you will find that your brain will be primed to believe it is happy. As a result, your happiness level goes up! (Strack 1988). A very practical quick fix, but one that does the job.
There are other simple daily acts you can practice; say hi and smile to a stranger (though caveat, take into account cultural differences), reach out to somebody that you haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time, notice something nice and positive about somebody else – hair, clothes, behavior, etc – and say it to the person. You’ll notice how quickly this will positively impact your own life! A happy state of mind drives multiple positive things:
- your energy level goes up
- your confidence level goes up
- your likability goes up and as a result you’ll create more & better relationships
- oh yes, it reduces the negative effects of stress and apparently also improves your immune system (nice bonus)
All of these combined will fuel your creativity! So, it should be clear that there is no excuse for you to bail out on this and that you can gain a lot by starting now! You’ll quickly create the happy vibe around you and it will go beyond your expectations. Above all it will make your life nicer and more interesting.
Who wouldn’t like to have fun and be in a state of happiness? Not only will it enhance your creativity, it will make your life richer and healthier at the same time.
Play, play and… play
Being playful generates fun and having fun is crucial for your creative mind as it also changes how you think and behave. Although it shares similar effects as being in a state of happiness, it adds some important elements that will further amplify your creative abilities by putting your mind in expansion mode.
Q: Oh, here we go again… mind in expansion mode?
A: Exactly! By having fun, several things happen. First of all, it raises your energy level, which fully switches your brain on so that you are completely alert. Additionally, because you are having fun, you’ll feel more constructive rather than analytical and you are much more comfortable going with the flow. The latter is important as it reduces the barriers and hurdles that would stop you otherwise from pushing the boundaries or exploring new and different paths. This is key for your creativity as it opens up new worlds of thinking.
Q: Uhm? New worlds of thinking?
A: Ok, that’s purely metaphorical, but that said, your brain will be able to make leaps of thinking that would otherwise not have been possible as these thoughts might defy the rules of logic and as a result judgment could kick in and push your brain to revolt in pursuing these trains of thought. When you are having fun, your brain is not in a mode to analyze or to “over-think” the situation. It feels more comfortable to explore the new and different thinking and that’s exactly where the magic happens and where you’ll come up with new thoughts, ideas, connections and solutions. Said it differently, your brain is in expansion mode and it will create the opportunity for you to look at things from different perspectives and angles and to explore them without experiencing the constraints of judgment.
Q: Ok I get it chief; fun opens up the mind. Are there any other effects?
A: Oh yes. Besides expanding your thinking, keeping your brain sharp and on the edge, it also has a social effect. Playfulness increases social interactions as it lowers boundaries amongst people to get introduced to one another and to get to know each other better in a relatively ‘safe’ environment. It is relatively ‘safe’ because judgment is (or should be) pushed to an absolute minimum, which fosters the social interaction. Additionally, having fun creates an incredibly energetic atmosphere that people are happy to join. Last, but not least, when you are having fun, you loose track of time because you are fully “living in the moment”. Remember the expression – time flies by when you are having fun!
Q: Ok, got it. Any practical tips?
A: It’s important to acknowledge that playfulness to foster creativity is not about competitive playing! The latter would not stimulate your creative juices as it puts you in a serious mode and will immediately activate boundaries and judgmental thinking. So keep it light hearted. Enjoy whatever you do, fool around, don’t take yourself too seriously all of the time, play silly and short games with friends and/or strangers. Just have fun and allow this to take place at random. You can encourage this by having short games or practical jokes up your sleeve or by creating an environment around you that would stimulate playfulness – e.g. having bright colored walls to make the rooms different & playful, having cool hang-out places where people can catch up, having colored pencils & paper readily available for whatever purpose, going wild with play-doh, building something new with lego, building the highest card house together, holding a silly paper plane contest, etc.
A positive state of mind and playfulness are both important elements in activating your creative juices. They both help to generate a positive spiral of creativity.
Besides the great impact they have on your creative MoJo, they positively affect your life in general!
As always, I’m eager to find out about your techniques and ways that keep you happy and/or that stimulate playfulness.
In the meantime, go out there and increase your creative success rate!
© Niels Chabot, Nutz & Creative