Friday, March 7, 2014

3 Practical Ways To Become More Creative

1. Allow The Ideas To Come To You 
 I am convinced that, deep down on the subconscious level, we are highly creative beings. The subconscious is revealed to us in glimpses through our dreams.

The problem is that we put up barriers and blockades so that the creativity of the subconscious cannot filter through into our conscious awareness.

If you fill every waking hour with music – on your stereo or in your earphones, sounds of a TV playing, constant action, texting or talking on your phone, constant worrying or trying to solve a problem – and never allow yourself to just be, to just be alone with your thoughts…then how do you expect to access the most creative part of yourself?

Why are so many people afraid of their own thoughts? When you rush to fill every silence with words or music or noise of some kind, you are missing a tremendous opportunity to know yourself better, to become aware of your thought patterns, and to “catch” those brilliant ideas that have the potential to change your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against music. In fact, the very opposite is true. But when I see today’s youth constantly plugged in to a set of earphones, never hearing the sounds of nature or the sound of their own thoughts…I pity them for missing out on their greatest potential.

Every single one of my great ideas came to me while I was doing something random – one time I had a vision while I was brushing my teeth, another time I had a huge mental breakthrough while I was chopping vegetables for dinner. 

Three things stand out from these experiences:
-     I was relaxed
-     I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular. 
-  I wasn’t “trying” to come up with ideas - I was simply allowing the ideas and thoughts to float in and out of my head.
The key , as in all things, is balance. In today’s busy world where we are constantly bombarded with noise and advertisements…it’s important to have quiet time, too. Turn off all music and TV for at least one hour per day, and just learn to enjoy silence. 

I love to lie on the grass and watch the clouds float by. Sometimes I go outside at night and stand barefoot on the grass and just look up at the night sky and the stars. Not everything in life has to have a reason or an outcome attached to it.

Too many of us have grown accustomed to letting other people do the thinking for us. We are in the age of the “expert” where everybody supposedly knows better than us on the subject of how to live our lives. So we listen to the experts, we listen to our peers, we listen to celebrities, we listen to the latest music, we listen to the TV chat and reality shows.

We listen to everything but our own thoughts, and the still small voice within.

The result is that we are becoming increasingly disconnected and unsure of ourselves. 

Unplug from the noise, and connect with your self. You may be pleasantly surprised to be reminded what a brilliant, creative and talented soul you are.

2. Eat Right

I can say absolutely, unequivocally, without doubt, the food you’re eating is affecting your thoughts. Did you know that your stomach (yes, your STOMACH, aka your “second brain”) has about 500 million neurons and produces 40 different neurotransmitters (that they’ve managed to identify so far).

Your brain is not the only part of the body that “thinks”. Your stomach does, too!! (And to a lesser extent, your heart, which contains about 40,000 neurons.)

 Is it any wonder that the food you eat is directly related to the quality of your thoughts?

In 2010, when I overhauled my diet, cleansed it of all processed foods and sugar, additives and preservatives…one of the greatest benefits I noted was how my thoughts improved. I began thinking quicker and with more clarity than I could ever remember. 

If you’re eating takeaway foods, microwaved foods, convenience or processed foods (even supposedly “healthy” ones like energy bars or breakfast cereals), even once per day, I guarantee that your thinking is slower, more foggy and more negative than it should be. 

The following three things seemed to make the most difference (mentally) when I removed them from my diet.

-       Sugar: I know. Bummer, right?! Quitting sugar rules out virtually all breakfast cereals, flavored drinks, desserts, yogurts, muesli bars, biscuits, cakes and candy. 

      (Wah! But I won’t have anything to eat!

     Yes, you will. Get your sweet fix with fresh fruit, which actually nourishes and heals your body, rather than depletes and ages it like sugar.

-      Fluoride: If you live in a suburban area of the "Western" world, chances are very high that your tap (drinking) water is fluoridated. This is supposedly to help our teeth. Quitting sugar will help your teeth more than any fluoride in the drinking water.

You can do your own research, and I strongly encourage you to do just that…but the crux of the issue is that the fluoride added to your water supplies is a toxic waste product which lowers IQ, depresses the thyroid gland, increases risk of some cancers, promotes depression, fatigue, headaches, hair loss, learning disabilities, eczema, genetic damage and neurological impairment.

It’s also a Schedule 6 poison, which means it is considered poisonous and must be transported and handled under strict conditions. Read theMaterial Safety Data Sheet for yourself. Note that it must not be allowed to contaminate waterways…? (Would it be unprofessional for me to add “LOL” there?!)

An elderly man I know, who has researched fluoride for many years, says the real reason that fluoride is so embraced by government has nothing to do with our teeth. He says it’s because fluoride makes the population apathetic, which means they are more likely to simply accept the status quo and allow the government to carry on doing whatever they like, with little protest or uproar. (Sounds vaguely familiar…)

I have no way of knowing if this is true, but I DO know my levels of critical thinking and general feistiness shot through the roof when I stopped drinking the tap-water…

-          “Excitotoxins": These are a class of food additives, so nicknamed because they “excite” the neurons, causing them to fire rapidly which can lead to death of the neuron. (Killing your brain cells, one bite at a time). Over time, this may lead to all kinds of neurological problems such as headaches/migraine, learning and behavioral disorders (such as ADHD), anxiety attacks, depression, epilepsy,  and seizures (to list a few).

These include flavor enhancers, such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), also listed under the number E621 and artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and neotame.

If you eat any packaged food at all, and have never read the ingredient list, chances are that you’re eating these additives several times a day.

Monosodium Glutamate is commonly found in flavored savory products, such as soup mixes, flavored crisps and biscuits (ie. “cheese” flavored Doritos and “chicken” flavored biscuits), flavored sauces and salts (such as “chicken salt”). It is hidden under many different names, such as “yeast extract” and anything “hydrolyzed”..

Aspartame or neotame are commonly found in “sugar-free” or “diet” products, such as sodas, desserts, biscuits/cookies, yogurts or flavored milks, and even in vitamin supplements and flavored children’s medications.

3. Variety Is The Spice of Life

Picture this: You read the same newspaper while eating the same breakfast every morning, listen to the same radio station as you take the same route to work every morning, hang out with the same people at the same café during lunch, do the same workout in the same gym at the same time every afternoon, watch the same TV shows when you get home in the evening…On the weekend you hang out at the same bar with the same group of friends.


How can you possibly expect to get exciting new ideas out of your mind, if you just keep feeding it the same boring mind-food every day? 

I’m all for routine. I love having a routine - but a good routine is liberating and freeing and allows you do all the things you really want to to - not turns you into some life-less, soul-less robot on autopilot.

For example, I usually get up early and go for a walk every morning. That doesn’t mean I have to walk the same route at the same pace every morning!! Sometimes I walk slowly and enjoy the fresh air and the sunrise. Sometimes I power-walk, interspersed with sprints. Sometimes I walk up along the main road towards town. Sometimes I walk down the little lanes among the plantations. Sometimes I listen to my ipod, sometimes I just enjoy the sound of the birds.

You don’t need to go jumping out of airplanes or hanging off a cliff in order to stimulate the mind and the creative juices. Try out a new recipe for dinner. Go to the library and borrow a book from a genre you’ve never read before. Make an effort to talk to people from diverse backgrounds and age groups. Listen to different kinds of music. Visit somewhere you’ve never been before. Try wearing your hair in a different style. Eat your lunch in the park instead of at your desk.

Challenge yourself to try something new every day. They don’t have to be grand gestures, just small tweaks and experiments are enough to get you “unstuck” and inspired. Who knows, it may lead you to beautiful new friendships, finding new hobbies and interests, and learning new skills. 

Not only will you become a more interesting person, you’ll expand your mind and allow for fresh, new inspiration.

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