Butterflies of the Mind
How to encourage creative work
Everyday my work requires that I be creative but sometimes it demands a much deeper kind of work; the kind of soulful, inspiring and emotional creativity that comes from deep within. Oftentimes, these types of creative ideas pop into my head when I least expect them to, like when I'm enjoying my morning coffee, in the car while I'm driving or while I'm having a conversation with a colleague. Unfortunately, projects have deadlines which means sometimes you need to encourage your brain to be creative... but deep work cannot be forced.
To encourage creative work, you need to put your mind into a relaxed state. Some accomplish this by listening to music, going for a walk or doing something they enjoy. Your mind will be more likely to receive ideas when it is at ease.
"Everyone who's worked on difficult problems is probably familiar with the phenomenon of working hard to figure something out, failing, and then suddenly seeing the answer a bit later while doing something else. There's a kind of thinking you do without trying to."
- Paul Graham, English computer scientist, venture capitalist, and essayist.
So why is it that creative ideas tend to Pop! into your head when you're taking a shower or exercising?
Alice Flaherty, one of the most renowned neuroscientists researching creativity states there is a link between creativity and our dopamine levels.When we engage in activities we enjoy, our bodies release dopamine. The more dopamine is released, the more likely we are to come up with creative ideas.
But there is another piece to this puzzle. When we "jump in the shower", we tend to relax and stop focusing on the day's events. We take a sort of mental break. The shower serves as a distraction. This is what scientists call "the incubation period" for your ideas. Finally, your subconscious mind is free to saunter about and plant seedlings into the conscious mind. It sets off a butterfly effect in the mind that can lead to a mental hurricane of ideas.
"If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play"
- John Cleese, English actor, comedian, writer and film producer
Obviously, you can't leave the office to go and take a shower whenever you are mentally blocked. If you want to be at your best creatively, relax, find a distraction and fill up on dopamine by taking part in something you enjoy.
"Creativity is intelligence having fun."
- Albert Einstein
When was the last time you just allowed your mind to wander and have fun at the office?
Morty Silber, CEO
Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner