How to boost creativity

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!” Henry David Thoreau penned in his journal. “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” Thoreau was onto something when it comes to building your strengths of creativity. I always wondered why Gallup never included creativity as one of their Talents in the Strengthsfinder assessment. 

 

Apparently it is as simple as walking according to a Stanford study highlighted in a story featuring Steve Job’s famous practice of taking people for walking. Where you walked did not matter: “The act of walking itself, and not the environment, was the main factor,” according to the study. This study follows on an excellent article in the New Yorker on how Walking Makes You Think. Walking has many other benefits as outlined by the arthritis foundation:

1. Walking improves circulation.

2. Walking shores up your bones. 

3. Walking leads to a longer life. 

4. Walking lightens mood. 

5. Walking can lead to weight loss. 

6. Walking strengthens muscles. 

7. Walking improves sleep. 

8. Walking supports your joints. 

9. Walking improves your breath. 

10. Walking slows mental decline.

11. Walking lowers Alzheimer’s risk. 

 

12. Walking helps you do more, longer. 

 

Success comes from habits

There is a short, but excellent article summarizing Tom Corley’s research he published in his best-selling book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life,” on what financially successful people do in comparison to lower earning individuals. I have added my own commentary to several, but do read his article.

  • They get up early
    Well begun, half done, so goes the saying. It is not getting up early that matters as much as what you do when you are up. Getting up early allows for several other habits take hold–exercise, reading, quiet contemplation. One excellent practice is known as morning pages whereby you aim to write 750 words fist thing.
  • They spend 15 to 30 minutes each day on focused thinking
    Perhaps this can be split into two parts: Focused thing vis-a-vis your goals and tasks at hand, and focused attending to yourself such as a mindful practice. Tim Ferris figures 85% of his guests on his excellent podcast have some sort of contemplative practice.
  • They make exercise a priority
    Research shows Cardio exercise is not just good for the heart and waist, but your brain as well from stress and anxiety to depression and many others. Watch John Ratey explain

    • They spend time with people who inspire them
      Role models and mentors are powerful inspiration. Chris Peterson famously summed a life worth living as “Other People Matter:

The Greater Good Society reports that “Results from some studies—as well as end-of-life conversations—indicate that many people count their relationships as the most meaningful part of their lives, even when those relationships are difficult or strained.” There is one special relationship that matters: Mentors:

  • They pursue their own goals
    The Ritz Carelton has curated seven great TED Talks  on goal-setting and how to follow through on your dreams.

    1) Keep your goals to yourself by Derek Sivers

    In this three-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares psychological evidence about the importance of keeping your goals quiet. You’ll have a better chance of following through on your plans if you don’t share them with others.

    2) Try Something New for 30 Days by Matt Cutts

    In this three-minute TED Talk, the speaker shows how small steps can lead to big adventures. Inviting activity into your life seems to lead to a richer experience.

    3) 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams by Bel Pesce

    In this six-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares five lines of thought that will keep you from reaching your goals, and she also emphasizes the significance of the journey.

    4) Four Keys for Setting and Achieving Goals by William Barr

    In this eight-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how he was able to build one of the nation’s largest home improvement companies.

    5) If You Want to Achieve Your Goals, Don’t Focus on Them by Reggie Rivers

    In this 11-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how focusing on the goals can actually prevent you from achieving your goals. By focusing on your behaviors, you will be more driven to follow through.

    6) The Key to Success? Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth

    In this 6-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how grit is a key ingredient for success. She encourages the audience to live life as a marathon and not a sprint.

    7) The Power of Believing That You Can Improve by Carol Dweck

    In this 11-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how adopting a growth mindset can open you up to greater success. She encourages the audience to see a challenge as a “yet” opportunity.

  • They get enough sleep
    You need sleep to draw on vitality. Tom Rath explains getting Fully Charged:

  • They have multiple incomes
    Obviously financial wealth requires income. Multiple incomes take precedence especially if they are self-sustaining. Tim Ferris explains in his book the Four Hour Work Week.

  • They avoid times wasters
    Hopefully you do not see this blog as a time waster. Even the pope has spoken out against Digital Media filters: “When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously,” he wrote in the letter.

Seeking meaning through the stories you tell.EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH

I was just listening to Scott Barry Kaufmann’s excellent podcast, when I stumbled on his interview with EMILY ESFAHANI SMITH. Meaning comes from four pillars: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence. I found the notion on story telling quite intriguing. “People who believe their lives are meaningful tend to tell stories defined by growth, communion and agency.”

Here is a little preview from a PBS special:

How can you find which pillar of meaning you are living? Try Emily’s quiz:

10 actions of happiness–make every day your international day of hapiness.

 

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Do things for others

Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good! Read more…

 

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Connect with people

Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness. Read more…

 

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Take care of your body

Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep! Read more…

 

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Live life mindfully

Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day. Read more…

 

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Keep learning new things

Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more. Read more…

 

 

 

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Have goals to look forward to

Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more…

 

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Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more…

 

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Look for what’s good

Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more…

 

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Be comfortable with who you are

No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more…

 

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Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more…

Source: Action for Happiness

 

Strengths Primer: Discipline

People strong in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.

  • Needs on a team: To organize
  • As a Leader: Create order
  • In Conflict: Add structure
  • Partner with: someone with strong Ideation–this will stretch your thinking. Adaptability–They will help you manage with flexibility especially in times of change. Self-assurance–will give you confidence especially trying new things. 
  • In academics: – loves organization – this student will also be well-prepared for the advising session and usually knows what they want – enjoys structured courses, well- organized profs with clear expectations, grading rubrics – will probably want to take all the required courses first to “get them out of the way” – will want to carefully plan their course schedule and will care about the times classes are taught and how they will get their assignments done – will want study time in between classes, so won’t want to schedule any back-to-back classes – will enjoy seeing the syllabus in advance of choosing the class 

Learn more here. 

The power of purpose

Having a clear sense of purpose gives people a stronger sense of meaning, and improves their satisfaction at work, says Stanford GSB professor Jennifer Aaker.

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Strengths Primer: Deliberative

People strong in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.

  • Needs on a team: To think things through
  • As a Leader: Anticipate obstacles
  • In Conflict: Help make decisions
  • Partner with: someone with strong Command, Self-Assurance, or Activator talents. Together you will make many decisions, and these decisions will be sound.
  • In academics: – loves to think it through – this student wants to know all the options and have all the information in hand before making a decision – will probably be well- prepared for the advising session and will appreciate an advisor who is well- informed and fairly directive – likes to know that the advisor can be trusted – will want to double check everything and will be concerned about meeting requirements – prefers courses where the expectations are clear, where class time is used well, and where students take the course seriously – encourage them to get copies of syllabi before choosing their courses, so there will be no surprises

Learn more here. 

Strengths Primer: Consistency

People strong in the Consistency theme (also called Fairness in the first StrengthsFinder assessment) are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world fairly by setting up clear rules and adhering to them.

  • Needs on a team: To have things be fair
  • As a Leader: Treat people the same
  • In Conflict: Set up clear rules
  • Partner with: Maximizer or Individualization theme
  • In academics: – loves fairness – prefers courses where expectations are clear and spelled out in advance – loves grading rubrics – dislikes being in courses where the prof plays favorites or where expectations change during the term – surprises are no fun to these students, so they will want to map out their educational plan well in advance and then stick to it – enjoys routines, processes, and other sequential procedures, so may enjoy the sciences, statistics, accounting, music, engineering or law

Learn more here. 

Strengths Primer: Self-Asssurance

People strong in the Self-assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.

  • Needs on a team: To be right
  • As a Leader: Provide confidence
  • In Conflict: Influence outcome
  • Partner with: a strong Strategic, Deliberative, or Futuristic theme. This person can help you assess the goals to which you commit. You need this help because once you set your sights on a goal you are very likely to stay with it until it is achieved. 
  • In academics: – loves to make a difference – enjoys class participation – enjoys classes where they can be successful – prefers classes that are relevant to their goalsand desires – enjoys independent study or creating their own assignments –appreciates feedback from profs

Learn more here

Mindfulness for anxiety

The growing body of evidence supporting mindfulness/meditation as an effective intverention in helping with anxiety is undoubtable. Research from Oxford shows significant improvementsreductions of 58% in anxiety (GAD-7), 40% in stress (PSS) and 57% in depression(PHQ-9). Take a look at this great set of guided meditationsThe use of these exercises is discussed in both of our books: Mindful Way Through Anxiety and Worry Less, Live More 


Click to play, right-click to download 

  1. Mindfulness of Breath
  2. Mindfulness of Sounds
  3. Mindfulness of Physical Sensations
  4. Mindfulness of Emotions
  5. Mindfulness of Emotions and Physical Sensations
  6. Mindfulness of Clouds and Sky
  7. Mountain Meditation
  8. Inviting a Difficulty in and Working it Through the Body
  9. Your Personal Experience with Self-Compassion
  10. Mindful Observation of Self-Critical Thoughts
  11. Mindfulness-based Progressive Muscle Relaxation
    1. Instructions
    2. 16 muscle group exercise
    3. 7 muscle group exercise
    4. 4 muscle group exercise