Writing a good introduction to a text about creativity and inspiration is a half-hearted task. You want to be smart, original, bold and super unpredictable. You want to catch the attention of the reader just as hot glue picks up our finger when we are inattentive pasting something that has broken: in a surprising and irremediable way.
Then you start to think.
What can I say – so creative, authentic and wonderful – about creativity? What can I mention that has never been mentioned before? Any angle, any anecdote, some subtlety that people usually let pass?
How can I impress the reader of this article?
All this inner dialogue happens in a few minutes, of course. As the white screen stares back at you and the text cursor flashes accusingly at you. At first, you get carried away by all this madness and you embark on that mental whirlwind with gusto.
After all, a text about creativity needs to be innovative.
But at some point, in the middle of all this creativity, you intuit that there is something wrong in this reasoning. Is this how creativity works? Do I need to be the master of writing and take from the bottom of my hat half a dozen things that have never been said before to really inspire someone?
Thankfully, despite our intelligence, we can also be intuitive and reasonable at times.
Fortunately, a glimmer of light appears in the midst of the darkness of our super-advanced logical reasoning and lets in the fresh breeze of true creativity. It’s a delight when that happens.
And that’s what I want to do for you today.
I want to show you that we do not have to be a traditional artist to be creative. You do not necessarily need to dance, paint, sculpt, sing, write or embroider to get a good dose of inspiration and innovation in your weekly routine.
As Elizabeth Gilbert (an overbearing writer and my greatest muse of today) says in her book “Big Magic: Anyone who creates something is a creative person. Driving your own life already makes you an artist.”
After all, think only: making decisions, choosing paths and shaping your life in a way that pleases you is a hard job. It’s a real creation, literally speaking. You are always correcting routes, measuring your feelings and your wants and trying to create in the world things that really make you feel good. If this is not creativity, I do not know what it is anymore.
And the icing on this ice cream is this: your day-to-day is already full of opportunities for you to explore its unusual and creative side. The simplest and most mundane things are the ones that hold the greatest power to bring people to the spontaneous side of life, believe me. Magic is always in the details.
To bring this discussion to the real world and put our two feet firmly on the ground, the list down below mentions and explains twenty-three ways for you to keep your contact & your friendship with inspiration in a practical and simple way.
All these initiatives have helped me, to a greater or lesser extent, to keep my mind open and to renew my energies. Some of these suggestions may seem strange to you, but I think creativity works anyway: it takes a form and uses a different outfit for each person.
We will never be able to summarize it into a single recipe.
What works for me may not work for you, and that’s fine. This list is more to warm your urge to get out of your traditional, boring and repetitive way and go test something new. A simple spark of interest can already open a new world of interesting and different things that you never imagined existed. Without further ado, let’s follow this white rabbit.
Keep reading this article carefully in order to get the most out of it!
Read a book without knowing anything about it before
That I already bought a book just because the cover was beautiful is nothing new.
I’ve also accepted recommendations from people’s books that I do not even know and ended up loving reading too much. This is as true to books as it is for the rest of your life, saw: you never know where and when you will find a wonderful thing that fits perfectly well with you. Or that it challenges you, somehow. If you’ve never done that, I suggest you do it.
Let yourself be carried away by instincts and impulses that are not very understandable: take a walk in a bookstore on a rainy day and pick up books that look beautiful or different. Accept suggestions from readings from people you do not know and ask your colleagues and friends what books they would tell you to read. Do not look for any information about them later.
Just read. You never know what you will find behind those pages.
Send a letter to yourself and only open it in a year
I do not even know how to start telling you the benefits and consequences of this simple yet powerful exercise. I would need another text to talk about this, so for now, I’ll stick to telling you very emphatically that you really need to do this later this year.
Write a letter – those with paper and pen and that requires you to move your hand, do you know how? -Talking to yourself in a year or six months. Talk about your current life moment and say what you would like to have been true for your future self.
Close the letter, put an address of someone you know as the sender and put yourself, with your real address, as the recipient. You will feel the power of this exercise on the skin, I assure you. Another option is to enter the Future Me website and write an email for yourself. You tell the date on which you would like to receive your email-letter and the website itself sends you what you have written.
Take an experimental lesson in some physical activity
I’m far from being an athlete, but I love to give experimental classes too much. It is the perfect opportunity for you to return to that innocent state and regain your beginner’s mind. When you do not know and get all clumsy trying to learn, you know how?
This is too precious. You do not have to do anything too bold or too scary, but that experience is sure to help you expand your field of expertise. You will expose yourself, listen to criticism, depend on another person to hit the move, and above all, prove to yourself that you are able to put your finger in the water of a pool totally different from yours.
I already did experimental martial arts and dance class. These two branches of bodily activity are the ones that most appeals to me and I have wonderful memories of these moments of “sticking to the top.”
Write a letter to a friend and do not say anything to the person
Did I ever say I love writing letters? And that I love even more to receive letters?
This may make me sound like a homesick old nostalgic but I really miss that mental disposition. I miss when we would allow ourselves to stop everything and write a letter to someone. When the recipient is someone and with whom we have a special affinity, the thing gets much better.
Imagine the surprise he or she will not have when they see an envelope with your name on their mailbox? Providing this care and for someone special is priceless and for sure will also help bring more spontaneity into your life.
Make a totally different recipe from everything you’ve ever done before
Stirring with food is another thing that can help you get out of your comfort zone. Especially if, like me, you are not very much in the kitchen. Even though I’m far from being a chef, I just love to get different, cute recipes and try to replicate in practice that beautiful result I see in recipe books.
Choose the type of food you like to eat and try to make at least a very different and innovative recipe every week. Take a few hours of your leisure time to mess up the kitchen a bit and indulge in your work of art.
Write a short story or sketch a fictional character
Not everyone is a writer, but everyone can tell a story. So much so that your mind opens up when you start thinking of plot and personal characteristics to give to your characters. It’s wonderful and too liberating. You do not even need to write ten or five full pages. Begin by writing only a few paragraphs from a story that was etched in your memory.
It may have happened to you or someone you know, it does not matter. You can also tell this story aloud to someone or record a narration of it on your cell phone. The format is less. But to see life through another person’s eyes and try to understand and absorb a different point of view of yours opens a lot of our mind, you can bet.
Change color, texture or size of hair
It may not be your beach, but for me, there is something very comforting and exhilarating to see that I can be a totally different person just by changing the style or color of my hair.
You will learn a little that the style you have on the outside may be totally unusual, but your inside remains the same. You learn not to cling so strongly to appearances and accept that nothing in this life is truly fixed. A cool metaphor and a great way to add a big dose of creativity to your day-to-day life.
To stay one day without touching the cell phone and the computer
This tip here is to be used without moderation along with any other idea in this list. Any initiative for creativity and inspiration can be more powerful when you do not get around to your mobile phone every five minutes to see WhatsApp notifications. And, nothing against.
I love technology and I’m sure a lot of the incredible things in life happen because we have access to the virtual world. But let’s agree: it has already become commonplace by this time of the championship and sometimes it gets us in a lot of trouble.
The movement to go against the current, nowadays, is precisely to take two steps back and enjoy the analog life a little while we have time. I did it this year and I say that this was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
Three whole days without a computer, lots of hours, each of those days away from the cell phone, several different tours and programs, and zero worries and knowing what was happening to the world or who wanted to talk to me. That gives such a great renewed in ideas!
Chatting with someone you know online, but never talked to
Spontaneously, with nothing to lose. It could be someone you follow on Twitter or Instagram or someone who added you to Facebook because of an event and with whom you never really talked. Leave a comment on a post or send a private message saying that you enjoyed X or Y too much. It is important that the content of your message is sincere, of course.
Those small connections to people we would probably never know otherwise is one of the most beautiful pearls the internet has to give us. So, it is important to make good use of it. It is amazing how much joy and pleasure we can have with things as small as pulling a carefree conversation with another human being. Beautiful indeed!
Get directions to good podcasts with friends and listen to one a day
Podcasts, for those who do not know, are like radio programs that you can listen to on your cell phone or computer. The cool wave of podcasts is that you can listen to something super cool, interesting or funny while doing other chatty activities in life – which, without this podcast, would be far less stimulating.
Meditate looking at the mirror
Meditation basically means training your attention and spending time with yourself: watching your breathing, your feelings and thoughts and doing the exercise of going back to the present moment.
And of all ways of meditating, this is my favorite. We already spend so much time facing the outside world that only 5 minutes looking at yourself already gives another dimension to things. There is nothing magical or spiritual about this meditation or at least, you do not have to if you do not want to.
But try stopping for three minutes, every day, and facing your reflection in the bathroom mirror. Breathe, turn your attention to your image and that’s it. With time and constancy, you will see the practical results of this exercise sprout.
Make a course totally unnecessary for your career
Is there anything better to learn? And is there anything better than putting new ideas and points of view into practice? It’s even better when we take a little risk and end up quite surprised. What course, immersion, or experience have you always wanted to do, but have you always thought it would be kind of useless?
Doing something new and not directly affecting your work is a super wonderful way to meet people you would never know otherwise and to let the sea of innovation and creativity soak your feet a little.
Take care of your Night Sleep
There are few things in this world that help our creativity, willingness and patience to test new things better than a good, deep night’s sleep. But, okay, let’s take it easy: I know that sleeping well is not always something that we can control and make happen by pure willpower.
And that’s okay: turn around and we’ll have a really bad night. But pay attention and take care of your nightly routine. Avoid using your cell phone and computer at least one hour before bedtime and lie in bed just before the time you really need to be asleep if you have a fixed time to wake up.
Take the television and the computer out of your room, leave the room as dark and cool as possible and – most important of all, immediately go to bed. Create a buffer between your state of alertness of the day and your state of relaxation of the night.
Some of my best days happened just after a good night’s sleep and I thank God for giving me this gift of getting a good night’s sleep, amen.
Traveling to a farm or a secluded place totally immersed in nature
This is a wonderful way to refresh your ideas and take advantage of time away from your cell phone, computer, and the commonplace things of the big city. Nature, by itself, is already a gigantic and free source of energy for us. Enjoy it!
This idea involves having money, but you can always find a little bit of nature near where we already live. Breathe in the fresh air, see trees and flowers, and go to the waterfalls. Your mind will blossom again with twice the energy and patience after this little trip.
We do not notice, but the big city race life takes away a lot of us – in the form of attention, energy and crazy stimuli drawing attention all the time. This is a super gift you can give to yourself and to your wellness and mental health before the end of the year.
Buy a special gift for someone you totally love out of season
I love doing this too much! Training the look to find simple and meaningful gifts for someone you love and surprise that person at a totally unexpected time is something that will nourish everyone involved. It’s great to be focused on doing well and rejoicing someone else’s life and getting focus from your little problems.
Do you have a friend who is going through an especially difficult time? Someone you like a lot and who might not know how much she or he means to you? This will open your respiratory veins of creativity and you will still use your imaginative potential to enhance someone’s day.
Pure gain and zero loss!
Watch a movie alone
Breaking the patterns and getting out of our normal way is a way of drawing and falling to sharpen your imagination and your creativity. So why not apply this to movies, too? You know as well as I do that, most movie theaters always do the same thing.
They have their place in the world and certainly deserve a little of their attention as well. But swimming along with the current all the time necessarily means forgetting the more alternative productions and works. Those who do not say what everyone is saying and that put us in ways less obvious and sometimes less comfortable.
Going alone and without company is an extra seasoning. The more you can remind yourself that you, too, are in good company, the better. Loneliness and being alone can be two profoundly different things. And it’s always worth cultivating a little more of our attention and presence to ourselves.
Go to the beach watching the sunset
Does this idea need explanation here? More you near the beach or not, it does not matter: take a little time on a weekend of the month or on a lost day of the week to visit the sky of your city and enjoy nature. Simple, fast and cheap. A beautiful sunrise or sunset inspires people in many ways, whether they are conscious or not.
Attend a TED lecture every day
If you do not know the TED talks, you’re wasting your time. They are incredible, inspiring and have every pearl hidden in that site, which is ours. The topics covered are super varied (technology, design, and education are the main topics) and you will definitely find something that you like – or, better yet, something that you did not even know was so interesting.
Opening your mind to new knowledge is something that can be done directly from the comfort of your bed or your sofa. Combine this little habit with some nice part of the day and do it even for a week. Again: it’s free.
Assemble a playlist to a friend
One more idea for the pile of cool, cheap things that cost nothing and that will put a beautiful smile on someone else’s mouth. These are my favorite tips, be serious.
I put the theme of the playlist as “songs to give you luck.” That is: they were dance songs, inspiring and joyful. This is a way for you to pass some of yourself, your taste and your worldview to someone else.
Especially when you know someone who could use a little more encouragement and strength. Making the musical selection of this playlist is also super cool: you begin to reason which songs fit that theme and which ones give you the feeling you want that person to have when you listen to them. A great way to exercise creativity.
Say “yes” to a ride you would never do normally
Want to break the ice of your creativity with a flying saucer? Accept the invitation from a friend or acquaintance who called you to do something you would never do alone.
If you want to play at the advanced level, say “yes” also for those rides that you really would never really do. Those things you do not even like to think about, do you know how? But if that’s too much, choosing something unexpected and spontaneous that was not on your schedule already counts.
As a methodical person, a little inflexible and who loves to schedule every day of the week that I am, I tell you that this is a very cool way to introduce fresh air into your routine. The more accustomed you are to programming and having a structured routine, the more you have to do it.
I did this a few times this year and it felt wonderful! I felt more confident, stronger and with richer world experience. And best of all: no matter how uncomfortable I’ve been on these tours, I did not die. Victory!
Write your thoughts in a notebook for half an hour
There’s so much going on between your two ears that you do not know. This exercise is at the heart of all the unlocking of creativity and energy renewal. Whether it’s writing or talking aloud, releasing your stream of thought and beginning to describe what you feel will help you a lot to get to know yourself better. It is like a remedy for emotional and mental constipation.
If you cannot freely admit your own ideas, feelings, and desires to yourself today, when are you going to be able to? It will make you get used to the act of looking at yourself, accepting what you see, and moving on. It is an exercise of attention and humility of the best kind.
Participate in a ceremony and be fully present at the moment
Marriage, funeral, graduation, christening: no matter the type. Ceremonies are very loaded moments of beautiful meanings but, for some reason, people usually get beaten by them. The moment things are rolling sometimes we just disconnect.
But I’ll tell you that some of the most inspiring and magical moments of my life happened during ceremonies. There is something about being together with other people to witness that ritual that really moves me.
Have you noticed that we usually dress better for the ceremonies? There is a more dignified, respectful and humble posture in people in general. We are silent, observe, and usually hear the words of who is leading that situation.
Be more present at the ceremonies that run through the year and stay tuned. You may end up taking something (a word, a feeling, and a connection of ideas) super valuable there.
Talking to yourself in another language and out loud
That will broaden your horizons to hell, even if you are not fluent. Who cares if you say something wrong, too? The goal is to try to be submerged in another way of thinking, speaking and concatenating ideas. No one will be listening to scold you.
If you are studying a language, this is mandatory. I taught Dutch for several years and passed this exercise to each of my students, no matter how many of them thought I was crazy.
You do not need – and will not – hit the whole structure of the sentence. But you get a little closer to that language and, little by little will unlock your difficulty or your strangeness with that specific way of putting the sentences together.
What are your ways to spice up and innovate your routine a bit? What do you usually do when you’re feeling stagnant and stuck in your old ways? You can help me to increase this list! Life was made to be enjoyed without moderation.
Do not let yourself get so used to your surroundings and your manias before you shake things up.
Begin to realize the opportunities you have in everyday life to make your existence a little more interesting. After all, the only person who can feed and take good care of you is yourself. Training your creativity muscle is absolutely essential for this.
So, in this article, I have given you some of the most amazing ideas and tips that you can practice in order to be more creative. Good Luck!