10 Tips for a Creative Life

November 2nd, 2010 by Neil Tepper

Creativity is more than just artistic talent – it’s a powerful tool for discovering new solutions to familiar problems.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

We are born creative, experiencing childhood from the creative, right side of our brain. Our early years are about exploring this creativity as well as learning how the world works by developing the logical and analytical left side of the brain.

As adults, concerned with matters of survival and success, we allow our creativity to fall into disuse. But, creativity remains a sharp and powerful tool that we can use to enhance our personal and professional lives. We can’t afford to ignore it.

Creativity is much more than artistic talent. Each of us has the ability to be creative when we know how to tap into this deep well within us. By harnessing the power of your creativity, you will discover new solutions to familiar problems and realize your highest dreams.

Don’t Try to Break Old Habits

Don’t try to break old habits. Instead, create new ones. It takes too much energy to resist and fight the urges and tendencies that are ingrained in us. Rather than struggle with these old beliefs and behaviors, just let them be and replace them with new, positive versions.

By nurturing these new behaviors, you will soon see the old habits fall away from lack of attention. And, remember to be easy on yourself. Hold back on self-criticism and let the new habits take root.

Reconnect with Nature

Walking or sitting at the ocean’s edge, wandering in the woods, a park or another natural environment – even a fountain in the middle of the city – refreshes the senses and un-clutters the mind.

Keep creativity alive within you by re-connecting with nature and fine-tuning your sensory body. Leaving your cell phone and iPod at home and taking a vacation from connecting with the electronic world – even for one hour per week – will enhance your creative power. It’s the best app going.

Think Small

One of the myths of creativity is that a burst of insight is accompanied by trumpets and fireworks and choirs singing. That’s not always the case. These bright illuminations often come in calm moments in the quiet circle of your life: while driving your car, sitting in the bath, or right before you fall asleep.

By paying attention to these small moments that occur between the big ones, you gain access to a gold mine of small, precious nuggets of creativity. Keep a notebook handy and write down these small ideas that can have big effects in your life.

Live a Life of Possibility

When you see the world as black or white, win or lose, either/or, you view reality along a 180-degree axis of extremes. When you expand your view to include the vast region between these opposites, you open your vision to the full 360 degrees of perception.

Living creatively means seeing the world as “both/and” – problems as challenges and as magnificent opportunities; being spiritual and wealthy. This is where possibility lives.

Answer the Voice Within

There’s a reason the voice within you is nattering away like a young child pulling at the hem of your skirt. It wants attention. It’s asking, “When is it my turn?”

Your inner desires and burning passions are that child within, craving your attention.

Living creatively means answering that voice and giving it expression. You don’t have to abandon the vigorous pursuit of your goals; just allow for that inner voice to be heard in the context of your whole life. Living creatively means you can pursue your profession and your passion.

Be Silent

One of the best ways to hear the creative voice within is to ignore the chattering of your thinking mind that constantly flits between past and future, demanding that you stay alert and in control in order to survive the “dangerous” world around you.

Short periods of meditation or simply sitting silently by yourself, watching, listening, reflecting – and simply feeling – the present moment are extremely powerful ways to silence the noises of your thinking mind.

Be Silly

One of the most enjoyable ways to blow out the bits of “mental cholesterol” that clog your creative arteries is to let go of control of your thinking mind. And, one of the easiest and safest ways to do that is to be silly. Wear a funny hat while cooking dinner, speak gibberish, play with your kids or dance with your dog.

The cool thing about being silly is you don’t even need others around. You can laugh yourself silly all by yourself.

Make Time Stretch for You

Not enough time for all you want to cram into your already-crammed calendar? Although time is a non-renewable resource, it is not fixed. It can be expanded.

Instead of trying to add other elements into your allotted time, choose to “include” them so that they are automatically integrated into your schedule. This is not a play on words. By living creatively you can re-sort your priorities and find ways to include a new activity.

No time to exercise? All of a sudden you discover you can walk up a flight of stairs rather than take the elevator; you can pace briskly while on the phone; you can repeatedly lift your briefcase or shoulder bag while waiting in line at the supermarket. All of a sudden, you’ve expanded time.

Explore the Poetry of Your Life

In a fiercely competitive world, your instincts urge you to do more in order to succeed. It seems logical. There is a limit to this logic, however – a diminishing return. Doing more of what you’ve been doing won’t necessarily bring you more success. Having more won’t make you more fulfilled.

To achieve balance in your life it is important to take time to explore your passion and joys, before physical and emotional exhaustion overtakes you. By do-ing less and be-ing more, you will not only reduce stress, but you’ll be more effective in your work and happier in your life.

Establish Your "New Normal"

Sometimes being too comfortable is uncomfortable itself. Sometimes you’re forced to move out of your comfort zone.

The current buzzword for this is “reinventing” yourself. The truth is that you’re always making adjustments in your life to suit your changing needs and circumstances. There will always be times when you need to re-align the elements of your life. By integrating new habits and behaviors, you can create a new you – your “new normal.”

When you make a commitment to personal growth, you learn to sense the shifting winds. Are you growing increasingly dissatisfied with your work? Are you unhappy in your primary relationship? Are you a step slower, a few pounds heavier than you’d like?

You can choose to move beyond your comfort zone and establish your new normal before a physical or emotional crisis forces you to do so. All it takes is self- awareness, honesty and a willingness to embrace who you are now and who you are becoming: your new, more powerful self.

Neil Tepper is a personal and business coach, and author of the new book “Prescriptions for Living A Creative Life: Simple Remedies for Common Maladies in Our 24/7 World."