6 SIMPLE WAYS TO FIND INSPIRATION & CREATIVITY
Where does creativity come from? What do you do when you need answers to tough questions or are tasked to create?
I’ve taken notice where most of my inspiration and ideas come from. What’s interesting is that they come from the same handful of common places that you and I operate in everyday.
If you are an artist, stay at home mom, student, or climbing the corporate ladder – we all sometimes find ourselves looking for outlets to get our creative juices flowing. Whether you are facing a creative roadblock or have a tough decision to make, let me offer you a few strategies that will create clarity and calm. I hope these techniques and tips will help channel your subconscious and open up an army of ideas, and an arsenal of answers to the challenges that lie in front of you.
The key is to put yourself in positions to unlock your subconscious to be able to receive information. The best way to do this is to change your “state” by altering your physiology or biochemistry by some type of stimulus.
Through my experiences of taking note where my creativity comes from, I have discovered that there are 6 main Mediums where I find myself channeling creative thoughts and ideas unified synergistically by what I call a State Shifter.
Ever see the film Limitlesswith Bradley Cooper? They say the human brain only utilizes 10% of it’s capacity. Utilizing one of the 6 mediums combined with a state shifter attempts to tap into the other 90%.
Below are 6 simple ways to find inspiration and creativity:
1. Taking a nap
Medium: A quiet comfortable place to rest
State Shifter: Sleep
Ever see the movie Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio? I love the concept of “a dream within a dream.” DiCaprio and his partner in crime, played by Gordon Joseph-Levett, where tasked to extract or implant a thought or idea into a victim’s mind while they were sleeping. Why can’t we do the same to our own subconscious?
The reason why I prefer naps to extract creativity is because naps support being in a Free State. You take naps when your body feels like it. You go to sleep at night because you have to.
Try this, when you feel like you need an answer or creative inspiration, listen to your body when it feels tired. Don’t fight this urge, but go with it. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Find a comfy place and shut your eyes. Here’s the Inception twist – at the beginning of your decent, ask your inner Leo for inspiration in the area you are stuck. Let your subconscious go to work. What you’ll find is that the idea doesn’t come from the dream, put from what I call the “nap residue”…the peaceful time in-between when you are not asleep and not fully awake. This is where Inception Creation takes place.
You will be in a complete relaxed state and your conscious and subconscious mind will begin to make-out like Leo and Kate on the Titanic. When you fully wake up, you’ll have your new idea, and will jump up, with your arms stretched out screaming, “I’m the king of the world!” Don’t just take my word for it. Ask multi-millionaire creatives Christopher Nolan and James Cameron. They’ll tell ya.
The concept for my first book (coming soon), came from this place. I had just woken up after snuggling and taking an afternoon nap with my daughter Bellamy. During the nap residue, the vision flashed at me like a neon sign in Times Square.
Give this technique a try…just make sure you are like Leo in Inception, and have a metal top handy when you wake up.
2. Going for a drive
State Shifter: Sound
One of my favorite of all movies without question is Rocky IV. Sly Stallone was in his prime. The Cold War was at its climax, and what 5 year old didn’t want a talking robot? I know I did.
When the 7 foot Russian, Ivan Drago, defeated and killed Rocky’s best friend Apollo, Rocky needed to clear his head. What did the World Champion and Italian Stallion do when he was faced with an insurmountable challenge? He jumped in his sports car and went on a drive bumping the classic, “There’s no easy way out,” by Robert Topper. Fitting title wouldn’t you say?
Through this process, Rocky was able to reflect, clear his mind, and walk away with a plan and a purpose. There’s something just therapeutic about going on a drive, the freeness of being on the open road, and feeling the emotion of your favorite song.
Music is a universal language that stirs memory, emotion, and inspiration. Steve Jobs has been quoted by saying that his biggest inspiration and influence was not some tech nerd, but Bob Dylan.
Another “sound” strategy I use while driving is listening to thought leaders through audiobooks, podcasts, or YouTube videos. I have my go-to’s that I seek for wisdom and inspiration. This is similar to what Superman would do when he was perplexed. He would go to his home ice-layer, insert a few crystals, and gain wisdom from his hologram father.
Often times just one word or one phrase from a thought leader that I admire will spark an idea that leads to a solution or endless creativity.
Just like how your car can transport you from place to place, this process will transform your mind to a new destination. Give this medium a try. You might discover Rocky-like underdog ideas and super human strategies inside of you.
3. Working out at the gym
Medium: Fitness center
State Shifter: Movement
I love to workout. The gym is my happy place. I’ve committed to myself and my health by making fitness a frequent weekly ritual. There are so many physical benefits that working out creates. My gym time helps me increase my energy, improve strength, and reduce the risk of injuries.
The physical effects of exercising are clear, but what about the mental effects? For me, working out reduces stress, clears my head, and allows me alone time to think. There is a powerful force that happens when we move our bodies. Moving your body is one of the most effective way to change your state.
Movement creates momentum. With momentum you discover motivation. When you are motivated you are able to tap into your memory on a deeper level. Ideas will surface. Inspiration will arise. Clarity will come through.
Every time I leave the gym I have a new idea for a blog post, an added detail for my book, or inspiration for a social media quote. These fresh ideas wouldn’t be possible without being in an environment like the gym, where I’m free from my phone and other distractions. The added inspiration comes from changing my state through lifting weights – similar to lifting stress away – the tension and release of the weight is like lifting tension and weight away that is blocking my creativity.
And here’s the thing, the more you practice, and the more repetitions you do, the stronger you will be. Not only in your muscles, but your ability to tap into fresh ideas and inspiration.
4. Shower Power
Medium: The Shower
State Shifter: Water
I love to take showers. There’s just something so soothing and relaxing about turning up the water really hot, generating steam, and just checking out for a period of time. With a wife and three children, those moments are fleeting, but cherished. Longer showers to myself is the real reason why I cover a large sales territory – to have frequent overnights to myself in a hotel (just kidding Kendra, being away from you and the kids is torture!).
But seriously though, don’t mess with my shower time. My showers can never be too hot or too long.
Growing up in a family of four, with just one sibling, I can’t remember many times fighting over the hot water. With this good fortune, I developed the habit of using this daily ritual as a form of meditation. No cell phones, no TV, no computers, no distractions. Just me, the water, and my thoughts.
There’s something metaphorical about taking a shower. You are stripping down, getting clean, and using the water to wash away the old, and begin to feel anew. Cleanliness, feeling refreshed, and recharging aren’t the only benefits showering provides. For me, the shower also serve as a canvas. I often use the hot steam to fog up the shower glass. This precious creative place is where I make lists, draw diagrams, charts, and develop new acronyms. My shower glass is like a whiteboard. While in there I’m like Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind. I’m unlocking puzzles and solving problems.
Sometimes Kendra will shower after me at some point in the day and find what looks like hieroglyphics, Chinese characters, or some alien language that I’ve created during these thought-provoking shower sessions. She will often ask, “What did you come up with this time?”
There have been countless instances where I entered the shower with an issue or uncertainty, and after feeling the warmth of the hot water, listening to the soothing sound of faucet flow, and feeling the hot misty steam – my brain begins to unthaw.
Just me, my breath, my thoughts, and nothing more. The shower is where I think, I ponder, I process, and I rest.
Don’t underestimate the power of taking a shower. Endless answers and countless creation is at your disposal. Just remember to squeegee when you’re done.
5. Going on a walk
Medium: Walking outside
State Shifter: Nature
Creative people have an eye for the creativity all around us, and the best in their field immerse themselves in these natural creative settings. I call this state shifter “nature.” What I really mean by nature is the world all around us – the trees, flowers, hills, landscape, water, sunsets, the city, buildings, architecture, etc.
What is more beautiful and inspiring than God-made AND man-made creation?
What better place to foster creativity than the beautiful world we live in? If you are spending most of your time in a sedentary, stagnant, and sitting position in a cubicle staring at a computer, you’ll be hard pressed to come up with fresh and new ideas.
Get your butt out of your seat. Create some movement by going on a 10-20 minute walk outside. Get the blood flowing and take in the beauty all around you. Moving your body is one of the best ways to change your state and channel creative energy – even if it is as simple as going on a walk.
Debbie Millman is a designer, author, educator, and brand strategist. She’s worked with many major companies and projects ranging from Burger King to Star Wars merchandising. She is labeled as one of the most influential designers today. According to Millman, one of her tried and true methods to get out of a creative rut is to go outside and go on a walk. This activity helps clear her head and flush out creative blocks.
Living in Manhattan, Millman taps into an endless supply of natural creative inspiration just by going outside. From people, to sounds, to architecture, to colorful billboards and advertisements everywhere – this concrete jungle serves as a breeding ground for inspiration.
I don’t live in the city, like Millman, but I do live near many trees, trails, and parks. God’s eye for creation is unmatched. Just breathing in the fresh air and taking in the scene all around helps me feel more creative and inspired. I often go on walks either early in the morning or later at night when the kids are in bed. This time alone also allows me to reflect on what’s going on in my world – presently and in my past. This technique might channel the most powerful source of inspiration of all: life.
One of the kings of creation, Walt Disney, used his life as a spring board for inspiration and ideas for stories. Reflecting on his hard working blue collar childhood, Disney was inspired to write the classic film Cinderella. One time, he was pulled over by a police officer due to a trivial traffic violation. Instead of getting mad, he used that as inspiration for a Micky Mouse episode.
Inspiration is around us everywhere. Tap into the beauty of nature and the scenes all around you. Get out of your “box.” Go outside. Move your body and go on a walk. Use nature to help you reflect on your life – which might be the greatest source of creation possible.
6. Go write, get right
Medium: Quiet time alone
State Shifter: Writing
Many of my blog posts and content for my new book WERE NOT conceived until I started to write. There is a magical creative force that happens when you allow your mind to explore, document, and reflect on feelings through writing.
Voltaire once said, “Writing is the painting of the voice. ”
C.S. Lewis noted, “You can make anything by writing.”
E.L. Doctorow offered, “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
My most creative place to write is not in front of a computer or laptop, but in the notes section in my phone. I also love to use Google Docs as a way to jot down thoughts and ideas throughout the day. One of the main themes of my new book coming soon is a unique daily journaling system – which I use everyday to prime my mind, body, and spirit.
Journaling has been clinically proven to lower stress, depression, and anxiety. Keeping a journal has been shown to help gain control of one’s emotions and improve mental health.
Give it a try. The most important words in the English language are write it down. Unlock your inner wisdom. Create a new masterpiece. Find a solution. Get your mind right, go to a quiet place and write.
God needed 6 days to create the world. Try these 6 mediums and state shifters to generate inspiration, ideas, and creation of your own.
Medium // State Shifter
1. Taking a nap // Sleep
2. Going for a drive // Sound
3. Working out at the gym // Movement
4. Taking a long hot shower // Water
5. Going on a walk // Nature
6. Quiet time alone // Writing
Who knows, you just might make a masterpiece.