Stop Being Stuck: The Ultimate Guide to 5 Life Changing Activities that Promote Creativity
It’s hard to be creative in a world full of distractions.
Heck, it’s hard to simply focus for a meaningful amount of time in a world full of distractions.
While no one can disagree with the fact that technology has impacted our lives in many positive aspects, and you might argue that it has given us plenty of ways to be more creative.
But has it really?
Maybe it’s more accurate to say it’s given us more ways to express creativity and reach a broader audience.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun”.
Keep in mind this is a quote by one of the smartest human beings in history, who lived in a time before the Internet even existed and television was still not a household commodity everywhere across the world.
Because beyond the access to more people, and tools to help the creative process, there is a growing concern for what is being done to our brains due to the constant bombardment and allure of distracting apps, content, and ‘entertainment’.
There are even those in Silicon Valley who don’t agree with this growing ‘attention economy’ trend that began with the advent of social media.
Imagine this scenario:
It’s Thursday evening, the weekend is right around the corner (HELLS YEAH!) and you’ve got one assignment due tomorrow that is extremely important, so let’s get to it and knock that bad-boy right out the park, right?!...
After one more Youtube video though.
One Youtube video later, it’s 7:42pm and you’re think to yourself; “Okay, I’ll start working at 8pm exactly.”
Sounds like the perfect plan! You’ve got a time set, while also giving yourself some free time, it’s perfect.
Until it’s 8:15 and you’re on your third Rick and Morty fan theory video and it’s looking like this rabbit hole you’ve jumped in goes down for a long, long time.
So, the clock keeps ticking and the hours keep passing, you’re leisurely enjoying your content and aren’t really thinking about the consequences to what you’re currently doing.
But there is a part of you that is, and if you stay really quiet you can hear it in the deep recesses of your mind; your logic and anxiety screaming in pitch-perfect sync while they run around like metaphorical headless chickens.
Finally, it’s past 12am, you still haven’t started but have resigned yourself to a night with little to no sleep so you can finish your assignment and hand it in on time, at the cost of your own health.
Be honest with yourself, how familiar is this scene for you?
Now you aren’t alone in this, everyone that uses social media is a victim of the platform’s AI algorithm, its sole purpose is to keep analyzing the content you’re consuming and find similar/relevant content to keep you engaged.
You know that list on the side of any Youtube video that says ‘Recommended for You’? There is an artificial intelligence powering that list, looking at what you’re currently watching, and then scanning for videos that will keep you watching.
This is the key point for websites like Youtube and Netflix, they call it “Watch Time”, and they want all of yours.
But what does this mean for you?
It means you’re constantly consuming information, content, and ideas, that should be good, right? Well, according to scientists such as Daniel Levitin, this is an information overload, and we’re constantly at overcapacity for the amount of data our brains our processing, which leaves us stranded in the white noise of our minds, making us less capable of creative thinking and focusing for long periods of time.
Simply put, if you’re looking for ways to be more creative, spending large amounts of time on your phone, switching between different social medias isn’t necessarily going to be good for you or your ability to focus on your goals and dreams.
So, what can you do to make sure you keep your creativity and focus at full capacity, ensure you never harm your goals and priorities and even start making some headway towards your dreams?
That’s what we’re going to discuss in this in-depth guide to help you become more creative, and gain valuable information as to how your brain works regarding creativity and focus. I will detail 5 personal ventures that promote creativity, allowing you to avoid the loss of personal ability and creativity that comes with information over-consumption through plenty of real world examples.
But before we get into it, I do understand that not everyone will have the time to read this whole article, or maybe you process information better in smaller chunks.
That's why we'd like to offer an alternative by sending you this article in portions through our newsletter over the timespan of a week.
It's the same great content, just available in smaller chunks for those who would prefer to absorb the information that way.
Whether you read it right here on the website or through our newsletter, you'll understand very quickly that we're all about offering options and including the alternative paths.
The Importance of Creativity
Before I get into the 5 activities that help you become more active in your creative process, let’s first make sure that we understand and appreciate the importance of this aspect of the human mind.
Now there are the basic truths that everyone knows about creativity; it’s that internal spark that makes music, poetry, and all forms of art, and every human has creative ability – to some degree – that they can use to impact their life or the lives of others.
Think about a human being that likes to paint as a way of relaxing their mind, this is an example of using creativity to gain something positive in your own life in the form of stress relief.
On the flip side you have actors and performers, people that use their creativity to create scenes on a stage that are meant to captivate and bring up strong emotions in the audience; they use their creativity to make those watching laugh, cry, gasp in awe, and all possibilities of emotion you can think of.
So, the first important point of creativity to consider is that it can affect everyone, ourselves included.
But just how far can creativity impact lives? To answer that, just look at the possibilities available to us today.
You and I live in a day and age where creativity can be the spark that leads to multi-million-dollar ideas, investment from major venture capital firms, or even the general public seeing so much value in your creative idea that they pay for it to be created through crowd-funding.
And that isn’t even to being considering the revolutionary blockchain technology under it which will literally change the face of how we do business, exchange information, and keep track of literally everything from shipments of diamonds to which advertising agency gets our personal information.
Just think about that, block-chain came about because the person/people that go by the name Satoshi Nakamoto had the creative idea to find a way to make a digital currency that actually works and could be trusted, and through that need for a concept that could be trusted brought about a universally life changing technology.
And that brings us to the second important point of creativity; a creative idea strongly acted upon can completely change your life or the world.
How about you? Do you want to create something impactful, something that will profoundly affect the way humans do a particular thing on a day-to-day basis?
If you already have an idea, or you’re simply daydreaming about the possibility of impacting the world like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, you should consider where you maximize your creativity.
What’s your mind-state, who are you around, how are you feeling?
The better you understand your own creative process, the more likely you are to create something substantial and be able to continually improve upon it.
Do you think Facebook could have stayed so relevant if they never updated their user-interface? Just google the original Facebook UI and you’ll probably be yelling “Ewwwww! It’s so Myspace-y!”
Don’t even get me started on old-school Youtube layout. I still shudder when I think about it… The 2000’s were truly the Internet’s awkward early teenage years.
But enough about that, let’s go over some of the different ways creativity can come about.
- Heightened Emotions – Elevated states of happiness, anger, sadness, can all bring about a mind state that promotes creativity. Imagine an MMA fighter using their anger to fuel their drive to win, leading them to perform a highly complex maneuver that secures victory, or a poet that’s lost in their melancholy, listening to some ambient music, imagining a bittersweet moment that becomes the fuel for the words jotted down upon the page.
- Children – Anyone who has spent even an insignificant amount of time around kids will tell you they are extremely creative – or utterly silly, but that’s a matter of opinion – they have an innate ability to view the world in ways that is lost upon most adults; from imaginary friends to the most fantastical scenarios of role-play, kids have an incredible way of inspiring creativity.
- Imitation – Many have read the quote by Charles Caleb Colton, ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, but it’s also one of the most controversial means of creativity. Creative ownership has always been a blurry line in most forms of art, and in today’s technological age of rehashed content ideas and overused music samples, it is understandable why imitation has a negative stigma.
How Creativity Helped Charles Lazarus Become Successful
That doesn’t mean that genuine creativity cannot be found through imitation. Uber is an imitation of the Taxi Service, it’s just done in a way that utilizes the convenience of modern technology.
But even before the invention of the cell phone can you find world impacting creativity that was founded on the principle of imitation.
The conception of Toys ‘R’ Us is a perfect example of creativity through imitation. Founder Charles Lazarus had returned to the USA from WWII to open up a baby goods shop from his childhood home – highchairs, strollers, cribs, etc. – it was a successful business.
Charles had accurately predicted the baby boom that occurred after the end of the second World War, and invested his time into a business that would benefit from that. But where he struck gold was when he began getting requests for toys.
Mothers would want some toys to go with their cribs, so Charles began to include those in his stock, but then he found that those who bought toys from him would come back again; their baby broke the doll, they want a second one for their other child so they would stop fighting over the single doll, stuff like that.
This contrasted with the fact that customers that only bought a crib, high chair, or other equipment didn’t come back as repeat customers, at least not as often as those that bought toys.
So, what does the origin story of Toys ‘R’ Us have to do with creativity through imitation?
Well, when you consider the fact that before this particular franchise there was no such thing as specialized supermarkets, you get a better idea of my point.
Charles Lazarus was inspired by the success of regular grocery stores, and in a completely unheard-of move at that time in 1957, created a supermarket for toys.
His imitation of grocery stores spawned even more imitators, leading to the creation of stores like Staples – a supermarket for stationary supplies – heck even Best Buy and Home Depot fall into the category of copycats of what Charles began.
So, let’s quickly go over the points we discussed so far:
- Creativity affects everyone, it’s like a wave crashing against the minds of those that experience the outcome of creativity (Art/Theatre/Music/Innovation)
- A creative idea when strongly acted upon, can impact your life and/or the world irreversibly. (Instagram - How we share pictures. Uber – How we think of modern taxis.)
And what Charles Lazarus teaches us is:
- Creativity can spawn in many different ways; heightened emotions, imitation, altered mind-states, spending time with children, etc.
- If you use imitation creativity in a way that puts enough spin on it to make it different, you might possibly create a new and popular trend.
It is important to recognize the difference between what Charles did, which is take a recognized concept and adjust it to make it better/different, and to simply copy the style, content, or property of another creator, which is now a widespread scenario found on most platforms like Youtube and Instagram.
1. Boost Focus & Creativity with Binaural Beats
To preface this section, I do want you to know that the effectiveness and practicality of Binaural Beats is a topic of constant debate among scientists and Internet comments alike.
For some (like me) Binaural Beats have been a wonderful way to meditate, ensure my attention stays on the task at hand – such as writing this article for example – and it has even helped me stay awake while pulling an all-nighter.
For others it’s just a bunch of annoying white noise that may or may not be mixed in with sounds of nature like ocean waves and rainfall.
But what are Binaural Beats? To answer that, we have an explanation from the Binaural Beats Meditation website, which reads:
The word binaural means “having or relating to two ears”. This represents the process, which works by simultaneously sending a marginally different sound frequency to each ear through headphones.
Brainwave entrainment happens inside the brain, and is caused by a physiological response. Upon hearing two tones of different frequencies – sent simultaneously to the left and right ears – the brain perceives a third tone based on the mathematical difference between the two frequencies.
The brain then follows along at the new frequency and produces brain waves at the same rate of Hertz (Hz).
Even with its controversy, the reason why Binaural Beats is on this list is because it’s a zero-cost method, there’s nothing for you to lose by trying, but much to gain.
Let’s paint a picture about why you should try it; you’ve had a project on your mind for months – it could be related to art, writing, tech, software, or whatever else you love and enjoy – but you always seem to have an excuse for why you never sat down and got to work on making it a reality.
‘No more!’ you say, and in a moment of pure motivation you sit down and you get to work on making that idea turn into a tangible manifestation.
This is all great and you feel super excited, but then you notice your brain feels like it’s in a haze; you can’t focus all too well and it’s like your brain keeps drifting off subject.
At this point you might feel really dissuaded to continue, your brain isn’t helping the situation! The hell are you supposed to do if your focus conveniently went off for a lunch break when you wanted to get shit done?
Well part of making sure you stop feeling stuck is ensuring you understand that You Are Not Helpless.
Maybe in an alternative reality you give up, you decide it’s not worth the hassle when you can’t even focus.
But in this reality of ours, you don’t give up. You decide to Google ways to increase your focus.
You search leads you to some answers on Quora, maybe this article – and proceed to get your mind blown reading this part! – or countless other articles about the exact issue that’s keeping your from making actual progress to your goals.
So, you find out that there’s these sound frequencies that you can listen to while wearing headphones that have a bunch of helpful applications, including boosting creativity and focus!
You open up the ‘ol Tubes of You and search for ‘binaural beats focus’, select whichever one strikes you the most and you get back to making your project a reality.
From here either the Binaural Beats work for you and you find yourself more focused, or you find it just a bunch of annoying noise.
But there’s something you need to consider about what you did, this search you underwent to find a solution; you weren’t helpless, you didn’t let your momentary lack of focus stop you from finding an alternative path to the goal you want to reach: turning your idea into something real.
2. Become More Creative with a Tech Detox
There is an even simpler way to clear up your mind, one that has been used by human beings since the dawn of time to clear their minds when it gets too cluttered; spending time in nature.
Modern human life is cluttered, polluted, and very much in your face all the time.
That’s why there is a wonderful reprieve to be had when communing in the natural world.
So strip yourself of all electronics, take a chill drive to a secluded beach or your local national park, bring some of your favorite snacks, your guitar, a book, anything that does not have a screen and blasts you with blue LED light will be perfectly fine to bring along.
Find yourself a nice spot to relax and sit that tushy down and let yourself get lost in your thoughts, really give yourself a chance to connect with yourself.
You have to understand that letting your mind wander is important, it’s part of having a healthy mind, what isn’t healthy is letting your mind get constantly dragged along the timeline and feeds behind all that LED light burning your retina and preventing you from getting a proper night's sleep.
Everything in life goes back to that old proverb, ‘Everything in moderation’, but our Modern world consumes way too much media and spends way too much time infront of technology without considering what that does to us.
If you go somewhere natural and keep away from technology on a regular basis - be it once a week for a few hours or once every couple of months for a few days - you will see marked improvements in your life; your posture will be straighter and you will find yourself naturally looking ahead instead of down, your ability to recall information will be better because your brain is more present and less cluttered.
Quality of sleep is going to shoot through the roof - you will embody the saying ‘sleep like a baby’ - and these are just a scant few of the very important qualities that we lose due to being constantly online.
Over-use, over-dependence, turns a wonderful tool into the instrument of demise, be it social demise as seen with Hikikomori’s - Japan’s notorious shut-ins that never leave their apartments or disconnect from their screens - to a true detriment for teens health and even cause a distortion of reality for adolescents.
As we become more and more interconnected, it will become even more and more important to have time to detox and realign with the natural world, and for the human being that wants to really rev up their creative juices, then a walk through nature will be a wonderful experience that will relax your mind and allow those innate ways of creativity to be released.
3. Get Creative By Getting Out of Your Mind
A lot of people don’t seem to realize the power found in taking your consciousness to the physical realm, and I’ve got two words for you to explain the benefits: Mental and Relief.
Moderation is key to a healthy life and a creative mind; never indulge too much in anything, but also try everything because too much routine or stagnation is, once again, not healthy.
Where this applies here is that spending too much time in your mind is not good for you, and may lead to a distortion in your ability to perceive reality.
But the great thing is that humanity has had ways of getting away from our inner dialogues and mental playgrounds for ages.
And you can come up with A LOT of options just off the top of your head. To prove it to you, here’s mine:
- Weight Lifting
- Swimming/Free Diving
That’s six options I came up within the span of 30 seconds. Six options of which you can do most in your own living room.
You could blast your favorite Beyonce music video and get those hips MOVIN’!
You could download a home workout app and follow their exercise plan.
You could find a guided Yoga meditation video and go along with it.
You could put on your sneakers and go for a jog.
You could ask your neighbor if they have some dumbbells you could borrow - if you don’t have your own that is.
There are multiple options available just depending on whether you want to leave your home or not, the key point being that you have options.
All of which will help you get out of your head, feed your mind endorphins from all that bodily activity, and let your mind fall into a very neutral state; no negative, no positive, your mental theatre closes for a bit and the janitors head on it to clear it of clutter.
4. Find Your Creativity By Getting Started!
There’s a very important distinction in productivity, this line is the make-or-break point between actually letting your creativity make something happen, and just getting stuck in the roundabout of preparation.
Entrepreneurs understand this, that’s why most successful and creative entrepreneurs know that the preparation phase of any project has to be a finite amount of time because it’s only one piece of the larger creative process; if you let it keep going you will find a thousand and one things to nitpick about.
The stage where you are planning things out is supposed to be where you get your skeleton, the outline that will hold together the flesh of your concept or idea.
If you try and plan every single action, move, and possible misstep, you will have what I affectionately call ‘Failure to Launch’.
To put it another way, think of a car that sounds like an absolute beast when you rev the engine, but then you find out it’s got no horsepower, what’s the point? Ya just gonna look at it?
That’s not the point of a car!
Just like how the point of planning is not just to plan! It’s supposed to help you understand what actions you need to take.
Say you want to write a book, but you only have a vague idea of what sort of book you want to write. Let’s say it’s a Sci-Fi novel - you’ve always been a Star Wars fan after all - so you get to getting an outline in place.
Here’s a simple outline that will keep you on track to create your skeleton.
General Plot (Adventure)
Setting & World (Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk)
Protagonist (Young Adult with Anti-establishment attitude)
Friendly Characters (Ragtag bunch of ruffians and people that don’t fit the system)
Neutral Characters (Nomads that live outside the control of the antagonist)
Antagonist (Old monarch that wishes to destroy the protagonist and what he stands for)
Hostile Characters (The general of the security forces and his legion of mindless troops)
And here’s an example of a too detailed outline that will just get you stuck in your creative process:
Genesis of the Fictional Universe
The Social Hierarchy
Friendly Local Characters
Friendly Distant Characters
Hostile Local Characters
Hostile Distant Characters
Royal Family Line
Protagonist Family Line
Romantic Subplot (That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms in terms of planning)
Look, I’m not saying don’t have an extremely well thought out world for your story.
What I am saying is don’t let planning make you forget that the point of all of this is to tell a story.
A lot of what is put in the second outline could be called the flesh of the content, but they don’t need to be apart of the outline - the skeleton of your creation.
Know the type of world you want, know what type of characters you want, but let your natural creative process guide you by delving into this ‘creation-in-progress’ world you are building.
You can use the second list as side-notes, little memory pegs for the meat of the content.
You’ll have many rough drafts, you’ll get ideas that could be used in the future, and as your brain keeps getting its bulb lit, you will be making progress towards the final goal; actually writing a book.
5. Stimulate Your Creativity: Talk to Others
Let’s make sure we’re both on the same page; there is nothing wrong with asking for help, especially if you’re the one benefiting from said help.
But let’s be realistic here, maybe it’s not easy for your to ask for help, maybe there’s no one in your life that you feel comfortable talking with, ever more so about your creative goals and dreams.
Maybe you already know the outcome if you even try; ridicule and embarrassment.
Uh-uh, that is no good my friend. But that is a situation that needs its own article, so we’ll leave that for now.
What you need to know though, is that even if there’s nobody physically around you could talk to and brainstorm with, you have access to many people who would be there to talk with you thanks to the accessibility of the Internet.
You can use apps like Lyf which is a social media focused on the journeys you go through to connect you with people on the basis that you know have an idea of what they’re going through.
7 Cups of Tea is a website that lets you talk to people. It’s an online therapy service, but you also have listeners who are not professionals but just want to help you out. Again, you have options, you are not helpless in finding ways to express creativity.
You could use Discord, which is like a beefed up Skype that can’t do phone calls, but allows you to create your own server - or join anothers server - with multiple chat-rooms and separate voice-chat enabled rooms. You can even share music together on it through a playlist queue.
You could go on reddit and find a subreddit that related to whatever creative process you want to undertake. Alternatively, you could also go the aptly named /r/Creativity/ subreddit, and post your question there!
Once again, the true value of this lesson is in what it shows you to have, that being aware of all these options for results also serves as an example of the fact that you are not helpless.
Instead you are shown to be a human being with a resolution-focused mindset; you’re someone that spends their time dealing with their problems rather than just thinking about them and letting the worry poison them.
And that is the true strength that will push you beyond your current limits.
So, What Next?
You know what you want, you want to stop feeling stuck in your life! You want to get started on a project and not feel like you don’t have any creativity.
You want to be productive and creative, we talked about a few points that would help you out regarding that in this article.
Now, let’s quickly go over the points we discussed:
What you learned about yourself:
- You are NOT helpless; between your mind and body you can accomplish your goals.
- You always have options, even in situations where it seems like there aren’t.
- ‘Everything in moderation’ is a critical concept for a healthy lifestyle.
What you discovered about the creative process:
- It is a highly important human ability that can be used to affect ourselves and others in both small and profound ways.
- Imitation is a viable method of creative expression - so long as your imitation has value to consumers.
- There are many tricks you can use to boost concentration and creativity when working on a project, like Binaural Beats.
- While technology has allowed us to reach greater audiences and have access to better tools to express creativity, they can negatively impact our creative process and ability to focus if we don’t disconnect for a while.
- Spending too much time in your thoughts or overthinking in general can lead to distorting your reality. It’s easy to fix this with many different physical activities, the only factor you will need to think about is whether you want to go outside or not.
- A roadblock you might come across in finding your creativity can be the fact you simply didn’t get started on your project. Limit your time planning and ensure you reach the action phase of you project.
- Talking with others serves as a board where you can bounce your ideas and get different perspectives, boosting your creativity through the imagination of others.
Now let’s be real with one another, knowing these tips and tricks doesn’t solve anything on it’s own.
But keeping these tips on your mind will greatly benefit you, they will serve you as the building blocks of true life change.
True change begins with the mindset, because your potential is fully realized when you have a positive relationship with yourself.
Because when you tell yourself ‘I can do it.’ and truly believe it, that means you have the strength to push through all struggles ahead of you and grasp your dreams with both hands.
This is not an easy task, and it can take months to years to see tangible results in yourself and your journey for greater self-mastery and control over your creativity and focus.
That might make you feel a bit disheartened; it could take that long?
Again, the main point to this article is to show you just how many resources you have access to that can help you; that you are not helpless in your situation.
But this does go back to what I was saying earlier; knowing all the info we’ve stated here or on the entire Internet isn’t going to solve things for you on its own.
You need to back it with constant mindset improvements, which means constantly being aware of your thoughts and actions.
It’s like you have a part of yourself that is detached from the whole, and the sole responsibility of this separated part is to observe you, your thoughts, actions, and intervene when your natural thought process begins to throw out baseless statements:
- “I can’t do this anymore.”
- “I’m so tired of my life.”
- “Why does this happen to me?”
- “I can’t keep fighting.”
This separate, logical and detached part of you will then poke holes in your own statements and thoughts, showing you the flaws in your emotionally charged thoughts, kinda like the ones written right above.
“I’m so tired of my life.”, you think to yourself, but then your detached aspect rebukes what you just thought: “Well, not really. I’m just tired of the way my life is right now, which is a sign that something is wrong and I am not satisfied with how things are going for me.”
This mix of logical and self-awareness will be an invaluable point in your journey as a human being, and will go a long ways in keeping you from feeling stuck, feeling uncreative, and feeling like life is pointless.
Don't be indifferent to your own need for purpose and passion in life. You have the right to be happy and successful, so make it happen.
We're not saying it will be easy, but we do guarantee it will be worth it.
Also remember the last point, if you want to talk, if you need help, there are those out there willing to listen.
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