Tag Archives: positive psychology

Want to make something creative?

What shall I make for my next creative project? It is easy to get stuck at “What the heck should I make next”?

Instead of focusing on “what” should I create, I humbly suggest asking yourself WHY–three times. Get very quiet and still and ask your head, heart and gut separately: Why do I want to make or create this thing? Let the voice of each intelligence center answer this question for you very distinctly.

What does your head say to you about this creative thing?

What does your heart say about it?

And what does your gut intuition say about it?

Write down each distinct intelligence center answer and reflect on each.

Want to make something

Clearly articulating why you’re creating what you are will light your path and continue fanning the flames inside you, and likely will touch others deeply too. Regardless if your creative thing is purely for your own enjoyment or you want it to be a commercial success–if you don’t start with why, you have no compass.

I’m writing my first science fiction book. When I start to doubt myself on why I’m writing this book I ask my head-why am I writing this? My answer is mostly because I love the space/astrophysics/spiritual subjects involved and by doing the in-depth research involved I get to learn new things, “the latest and greatest”. I ask my heart, why am I writing this? I want to find more clarity and meaning about the cycle of life and the suffering involved in it. If I can find some peace in it, perhaps it will help bring peace to others too. I ask my gut, why? My gut says there are some older, deeper truths inside me that I can tap into, feel and know to be true. My intuition quietly says–this is important to you, your curiosity about scientific and spiritual facts and how they can co-exist in different realms. I can now go forward knowing I am doing the right thing by writing this book.

Imaginative thinking is at the core of art, science, and a number of other disciplines, but the science of imaginative thinking is a secret. I believe by tapping into (the usually un-reflected upon) WHY from our head, heart and gut perspectives can tap into our untapped imaginations.

Starting with why can lead to levels of excellence we never considered attainable, especially for long term creative projects. By emphasizing the WHY behind our motivations to succeed, versus the WHAT approach, which is less passionate, less inspired (and probably a more habitual approach) we can have confidence in our creative product. We can be authentic in our approach, which will–at the very least–delight us and perhaps even really inspire others.

Do your research first. Mark Twain said, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” Good research is about asking broad questions, and thinking critically about the answers. It’s something everyone can learn, and do quickly with Google, and countless other search approaches. If we do this well, it will save us time, energy and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way. After all time is–by far–our most precious commodity.

Want to make something

Where have you gotten your ideas in the past? Take the time to reflect upon this, then write your answers down. Next, what are you waiting for… go do that research. If it is being in nature and for example, examining something much more intensely than others do, then go do it!

How do I know if what I make will be the right thing? Because even if we’ve done the research, we still don’t know if we’re actually making something that works for others. Keep in mind this only matters if we aspire to have commercial success, many creative people don’t. But if you do then ask yourself:

Is my new  book something that others will want to read? Example, beta readers, etc.

Is my performance art exhibit something others will be inspired to participate in? Example, do a sequence of “pilots” with other artist’s input.

What kind of targeted experiments can I run to find out?  Example, reach out to real users.

You can read Part 2 of this post here.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests. Read more in my recent book and my website: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut.

Velcro and Teflon Creativity

Which of your three creative centers–head, heart or gut–are you being negative to? bionic-brain

The secret to creativity might be summed up in a cheesy neuroscience joke: “The neurons that fire together, wire together.” When we disrespect what one of our intelligence centers is saying to us by automatically responding negatively to it, we are shutting that source of creativity down:

“My gut is always wrong, I never listen to it.”

“Listening to my heart will only cause severe pain and bleeding.”

“I think too much, I shouldn’t listen to my head but only act.”

“It’s a classic saying, and it’s widely accepted because it’s very true,” says neuropsychologist Rick Hanson. “We’ve got this negativity bias that’s a kind of bug in the stone-age brain in the 21st century,” he says. “It makes it hard for us to learn from our positive experiences, even though learning from your positive experiences is the primary way to grow inner strength.”

There are consequences of our highly interconnected head/heart and gut intelligence centers. Scientists believe our brains have a built-in “negativity bias.” The reason is pretty simple. Since we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots (rewards), it was more important to notice, react to, and remember sticks than it was for carrots. It was a tough environment for our ancestors. If they missed out on a carrot, it likely would not kill them; but if they failed to avoid a stick, such as a predator, a poisonous plant, a natural hazard, or overly aggressive fellow caveman, then BAM!, fat chance to pass on their genes.

Our negativity bias shows up in lots of ways. For example, studies have found in a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one. People will work much harder to avoid losing 100 dollars than they will work to gain the same amount of money. Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.

The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. It is said approximately 80 percent of our (up to) 70,000 thoughts per day are negative. This is good and bad news for creativity. Our brains are tilted against lasting contentment and fulfillment. This means our memory banks are full of underlying expectations, assumptions, beliefs, and especially our moods—which automatically move in a negative direction. Mother Nature only cares about passing on genes; she doesn’t care if this means painful suffering in the process. Suffering includes subtle worries to intense feelings of sorrow, worthlessness, or anger and creating suffering for others. Naturally being wired to acquire negative experiences over positive ones, can make us more anxious, irritable, and blue. But these “sticky” emotions also create a deep well for us to draw upon and funnel into creative outlets. Such lack of contentment can result in a felt need and a motivation to create.

“I have the memory of an elephant. I can forgive, but I cannot forget. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Perhaps the Velcro theory is why Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous elephant quote about her philandering husband makes sense. We are wired to hold onto the negative experience, even if we willfully (from our gut center) try not to. Mrs. Roosevelt exemplifies our need to take the negative and create something new. This is exactly what she did after discovering FDR’s first affair with her own private secretary. Her personal journals expose from this point forward, any remaining intimacy left their relationship. Up to this point she was willing to be a traditional wife, mother of their five children, and homemaker. After this very painful breach of trust, Eleanor established a separate house, and increasingly devoted herself to becoming a human rights and social justice entrepreneur. This included being a pioneer in the womens’ suffrage and African American Civil Rights movements. She was no ordinary first lady–I believe the most entrepreneurial one of all!

Eleanor knew how to make lemonade from potent lemons in her life

Perhaps an even more severe example of “making lemonade” is shown in the video below. This one will blow your mind for sure!

However, on a day to day basis, many of us don’t stay with our positive experiences long enough for them to be encoded into neural structure (meaning there’s not enough wiring and firing going on). On the other hand, we naturally tend to fixate on negative experiences. Positive and negative emotions use different memory systems in the brain, according to Hanson, and positive emotions don’t transfer as easily to long-term memory.

So we easily filter to see the tough parts of life. We can learn to bear negativity by intentionally tilting towards healthy creative outlets. This will lift our energy and spirits and use our resources. But we have to intentionally fill up our cups because positive experiences will wash through us like sieves. Please see a previous post on how to fight ANTS (automatic negative thoughts).

The more we get our neurons firing on positive facts, the more we’ll be wiring up positive neural structures. Intentionally focusing on “taking in the good” is a brain-science savvy and psychologically skillful way to improve how we feel, get things done creatively, and treat others consistently. By taking the positive in–from our head, heart and gut centers–and filling ourselves up with them, we will increasingly feel less fragile or needy inside, and less dependent on external supplies.

How good are you at creatively making lemonade from all the negative lemons in your life? Please share your insights on this, we all have “ANTS,” (mine can build huge mounds in my mind if left untended!)

Thank you for reading my post (excerpts from my recent book). My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my book and at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Dogs’ Creativity, Woof!

“If dogs ruled the world” humans would play fetch, too! Wouldn’t you agree? In fact “fetch” would become a national and Olympic sport. The whole world would turn into a never ending dog park… with lots of good belly rubbing and tug-a-war included too.

"If dogs ruled the world" humans would play fetch, too! Wouldn't you agree? In… Pin it        Finn, Bella ready for any hunt or play anytime, anywhere

If dogs ruled the world, all pertinent data would occur in a matter of seconds, no more tedious searching on the internet!

In my home our dogs DO rule our world. We photographed them as “Sheriff Finn” and “Deputy Bella” recently because that truly is who they are.

Both are weimaraner rescues: We adopted Finn first, a larger than normal male at a year old, now over 100 pounds and nine years old. We can only guess his name comes from the huge size of his paws. He is sheriff to us all. We must adore and obey him because… well he is King Finn, the lap dog after all.

Then there is deputy Bella, the all adoring (of Finn, we come second) and submissive deputy of eight years. If we don’t follow Finn’s orders she backs him up 110%–get with it you guys pronto!

Dogs
Pin it  Mac-head Finn at a year old: computer work is so tiring!

Bred in Germany originally for hunting in the early 19th century they were used by royalty for hunting large game such as bear and deer. Later they were used for hunting smaller animals like birds, rabbits, and foxes. At our place they hunt for all these, also astute and quick at catching lizards, mice and flies. They are indeed flexible!

Weimaraners are not an independent breed and love to be with their owner, never leaving them alone–aka, “Velcro dogs.” When asked, “Do you allow them to sleep on your bed with you?” I reply, ‘oh yes, but mostly they are under the covers,’ I note we are in good company with William Wegman who responds likewise.

Weims (for short) were made famous by this photographer William Wegman, born in 1943. Wegman originally intended to pursue a career as a painter–that is until he got his dog, Man Ray. The two began a long and fruitful collaboration. Man Ray is known in the art world for his endearing deadpan presence… along came many more weims after him.

https://youtu.be/G9w22XdkE1M

Photo credit, William Wegman; Wegman’s dogs joyfully appeared in TV show Sesame Street (video)

Sure if dogs ruled, we’d be known as “dogs best friends…” But there is something more about dogs that can’t be pinned down… that deep bonding, “soulful” thing… captured in this video by Wendy Francisco.

My theory is that no one can empathize with us the way our dogs can due to their uncanny ability to read our body language and attune to our energy. Ask any dog trainer and they will tell you it’s far easier to teach a dog a behavior using a hand signal than using a spoken word. Why? Dogs are masters at reading our body language. For centuries, dogs have been carefully watching us to understand and anticipate our movements. This evolutionary effort got them the most food, helped avoid danger, and ensured they stayed on humans’ good side.

Dogs Pin it Tyler the weimaraner does the splits, Picture: YOGA DOGS /BARCROFT MEDIA

Honestly what wouldn’t your dog do for you? Evolutionary anthropologist Brian Hare speculates, “that the ability to read human body language was one of the traits selected when dogs were being domesticated,” (along with I’d say a severe “cuteness” factor). Those dogs best at reading people were more likely to be nurtured by humans and, therefore, be successful and reproduce. Scientifically this makes sense to me but still–does not explain that soulful unconditional (and unspeakable) bonding factor.

Dogs Pin it      Finn, Bella, mom and dad–just having fun

There are many kinds of service dogs, including guide dogs, hearing dogs, mobility dogs, seizure alert/response dogs, psychiatric service dogs, autism dogs, military dogs, drug and cancer sniffing dogs, the list goes on… I know many ex-vets that would not want to go on living without the dog (or dogs) that enable them to cope emotionally on a daily basis. Again one wonders… what can’t these creatures do? They certainly reach down into our souls the way no others can!

Dogs Pin it     Soldier adopts hero military dog that ‘saved her’ in Afghanistan

If you give your heart to a dog they will not break it. No, I don’t think that Dog is God spelled backwards, but pretty darn close.

How is your dog goofy, fun and creative? Please share how they make you more creative!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my recent book and at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

How are you creative? Free Self-Assessment

“It turns out that creativity isn’t some rare gift to be enjoyed by the lucky few…
In too many of us it gets blocked. But it can be unblocked.
“And unblocking that creative spark can have far-reaching implications…” 
Tom Kelley

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There have been three centers of intelligence observed in humans dating back to Ancient Greece: Head (thinking), Heart (feeling) and Gut (intuitive doing). All three centers are active in each person, and are necessary for survival. However, we don’t access each of them equally because this is part of our brain’s conditioning. For example, I’m primarily a gut-based person. This means I operate mostly out of my gut reactions first, with support from my heart and/or head. Others describe themselves as primarily heart based, with support from their gut intuition and/or head. We all know thinkers who predominantly operate from the head center because their internal thinking is deeply valuable to them.

Clearly, our centers need each other. They independently and interdependently bring out our creativity. The slow hunch from our gut needs to be nourished. Even if it’s a flash of insight from the gut, we need the head center to prove it and the heart center to nourish it. To befriend our total experience is to accept all of our responses. To allow information to flow without judgment from all three centers and experience events, good or bad, painfully or joyfully, is to be truly alive.

Our task is to consider every moment, and our reaction to it, as potentially interesting, challenging, and revealing to our creative process. To be fully creative we need an open heart, open head, and open gut willingly befriending each other. We need to be aware when any of our centers are closed or blocked. We need self-confidence to solve problems or exploit ideas creatively. You absolutely can develop the self-belief and confidence in your own creativity by experimenting with and trusting in your three intelligence centers as THE sources of your creativity.

The key is to build an awareness of where your fire comes from regarding your ideas or problems. Does it originate from your heart, head, or gut intelligence center? In what proportion is the fire burning to solve problems from each center? From your heart/head/gut’s perspective is it 80/10/10 or 34/65/1 or 33/33/33? To facilitate this awareness, I offer a free three-center self-assessment on my website.

By discovering which center is your dominant, supportive and under-used center–you will build your awareness and confidence in your creative self.

Why a self-assessment and not some kind of creativity test? The answer is because creativity is not simply a set of personality traits or skills. It’s not familiarity with a set of behaviors that facilitate pre-fabricated strategies. Creative people are inventors; they invent both problems and solutions.

Creativity happens when a person with the right set of skills and knowledge (from the head, heart, and gut) invents or finds a meaningful problem that cannot be solved using any existing approach. The problem is solved creatively only by the person uniquely executing their own set of experiences (from the head, heart, and gut). Who knows who is going to hit the jackpot? Only people who have chosen to embark on this quest. I can’t “teach” creativity because it is a very personal quest. My quest is to facilitate your creative quest.

Thanks for reading my post. This is an excerpt taken from my recent book: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from your Head, Heart and Gut. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Is Creativity Different from Innovation?

By my definition it is!

There is not a universally accepted definition of creativity. In fact, there are more than sixty different definitions in psychological literature. Is it really only problem-solving? Is it the same as innovation? Creativity is indeed mysterious. It is no wonder there is not one accepted definition. My definition is simply anything that is new and useful. By “useful” I mean a person’s creative act might only be useful to them at the time. It does not have to be useful from a commercial standpoint, which distinguishes it from innovation.

02 Genetic's FlowchartFor example, the scientist and monk Gregor J. Mendel studied peas in the 1800s. He tested about 29,000 pea plants, which led him to make two generalizations or “laws” about inheritance. It was new creative work, but nobody paid much attention to it at the time. It was only useful to Mendel. His discoveries immensely pleased himself.

The significance of Mendel’s work was not recognized until the turn of the 20th century. The independent rediscovery of his “pea laws” formed the foundation of the modern science of Genetics. Who would have guessed this quiet friar growing peas at a monastery would now be revered as “the father of modern Genetics”?1

The mysterious process of creativity is at the front-end of innovation. This is likely why the two get lumped together so often. However, one can be creative without it leading to innovative success. Here is how I distinguish between the two terms:

Creativity: the capacity within individuals to develop new ideas for the purpose of solving problems and exploring/exploiting opportunities.

Innovation: the application of creativity to give rise to a new product, service or process delivering something new and better to the world.

Please note by my definition—creativity is not a team sport. It is an individual pursuit. Innovation more often involves many people to make a creative idea useful to the world. What do you think about these definitions? Do you think the two are different?

My new book is available now at:
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Own your creativity

Your creativity is a composite of your head, heart and gut centers acting as distinct sources. Many don’t believe they are creative, which is baloney! However, your creativity may be lying dormant within you and in need of waking up… Get in touch with your three centers and learn to trust them as sources. You can start with the free center assessment available on this website.

My new book is available now at:
amazonlogo      BN      ibooklogo

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