Nurturing your creativity
All people have the capacity for creativity. You may not think of yourself as creative, and you may even have been told that you aren’t “the creative type.” Whatever your occupation, temperament, and talents, you can nurture your creativity and create the conditions for flow. Here are some suggestions to get started:
Know your strengths. Take an inventory of your talents and strengths and practice them. Even the most talented athletes and musicians practice nearly every day.
Capture new ideas. Keep a notebook or voice recorder with you and next to your bed. Make it a habit to pause and jot down ideas and observations as they come to you.
Challenge yourself. Flow comes from the balance of mastery and challenge. And creativity comes from thinking about challenging problems—even ones that don’t have a solution—so that new ideas can emerge. Try working on puzzles and brain teasers.
Broaden your knowledge. You probably keep up with the knowledge in your occupation and hobbies. Occasionally seek out knowledge in a completely new and different area. Some of the most creative ideas have come from making unexpected connections in different fields of knowledge.
Choose what to pay attention to. Flow is a state of heightened attention to the task at hand, to the point of being completely absorbed in it. Make an effort to spend time doing things that are at your cutting edge of mastery and challenge. Give yourself opportunities for flow by creating time and space free of distractions.
Redesign your work to use your strengths more. As much as you can, arrange your job so that you can use your strengths. You may be able to work with your supervisor, team members, or delegate to others so that you can spend more time on tasks and projects that give you the best balance of mastery and challenge.
Change your environment. Put objects in your work space—photos, clippings, comics, mementos, toys—that inspire you and make you smile, and rotate them with new ones from time to time to help inspire you to take notice.
Sleep on it. Studies have found that creative solutions and new ideas really do come to us in our dreams, in the in-between state just before falling asleep, and after waking up.
Collaborate. Some of the most effective brainstorming happens when individuals in a group think up and write down ideas on their own, exchange or share them with group members, and then come up with more ideas. This minimizes the competition or rejection that can happen when the whole group is generating ideas out loud together, and still allows the group to share and build on ideas.
Go outside. Some research has shown that people are more innovative and creative in natural settings.
Authentic Happiness, by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph. D.
The How of Happiness, by Sonja Lyubomirsky