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Relax Your Way to Creativity

Image of glass of water being poured with Maya Angelou quote overtop: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

Taking time for yourself can have myriad benefits.

When we rest, we open up our minds to opportunities to be creative and productive.

Although it might look like we are doing one thing, our minds remain hard at work⁠. We are puzzling over problems, thinking creatively, and free-associating.

“The critical thing to recognize is that when we are mind-wandering, when our minds don’t have any particular thing they have to focus on, our brains are pretty darn active,” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, tells Scientific American. “When you do things like go for a long walk, your subconscious mind keeps working on problems.”

Pang, who is also founder of the Restful Company, a consulting company in SIlicon Valley, differentiates between resting and engaging in restorative activity.

Mindlessly binge-watching television may help us wind down, but that’s passive. Active hobbies that help your mind wander are important. That’s why walking can be such great exercise, for both the mind and the body.

Another way to think of this is in terms of helpful distractions.

As Harvard University researcher and psychologist Shelley H. Carson explains in The Boston Globe, “a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.’’

When we focus on a problem, we can have trouble finding the solution. This is because we aren’t opening ourselves up to different solutions.

Carson, also the author of Your Creative Brain, argues everyone can benefit from flexing their creativity muscles. It can make us feel more relaxed, fulfilled, and effective. Creativity inspires us.

But taking time for active rest or creating opportunities for helpful distraction can be tough.

This is especially true when, as Geoffrey James points out on Inc.com, we live in a society where people where their stress as a badge of honor.

His advice?

“Be brave enough to give your brain the leisure it needs to carry your ideas, your career or your company to the next level.”

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Growth Is Hard! Here’s Our Advice

Graphic design of flowers in bloom

It’s scary to put yourself out there.

All too often, we might know in our hearts what we want, but be afraid of the path to get there.

Perhaps you are the person in your office who is always intrigued by the latest gadgets and reports. Do you have an idea for a new way to do things? Do you think your audience could benefit from finding you on a different platform?

Maybe you are thinking about changing jobs. Is what you dream about doing the complete opposite of your current path? Is another position calling your name?

Possibly you are worried about taking a stand. Where do you find the confidence to speak up and become a leader?

Expert advice can be a wonderful help, and so often ultimately reminds us to follow our guts and do what we believe to be best. If you are thinking of trying a new path, experimenting with an idea, or exploring a fresh direction, remember you are in control.

“I describe my career path as a zigzag—not a ladder with a straight trajectory up.”

When asked on the Simmons Leadership blog if there was a turning point in her career, Denise Morrison, who served as CEO of Campbell Soup Company from 2011 to 2018 (and was the first woman to do so), responded that she’s “jumped the curve to seek new experiences.” When life served her an unexpected move to California, she took it as an opportunity to take on a new challenge and gain experience.

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,’ that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise.’

In his well-known self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey shares that we have the power to control our paths by the way we respond to situations around us. If you lead your life with emotional strength and integrity, Covey believes we can shape better lives for ourselves.

“I’m like a tree. My leaves might change color, but my roots are the same.”

Athlete Rose Namajunas reminded her fans that we remain ourselves at our core. We may win or lose, gain insights or skills, but experience and knowledge only add on to who we are. When we think this way, we have the freedom to change our leaves. We can still be ourselves even if we try on a different set of colors to see how they work for us.

So feel motivated to get out there, be yourself, and work hard to chart your own course!

And remember: “He who never makes an effort, never risks a failure.”

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