Updated: Feb 13, 2020
This week, we invited Melissa Sims, a yoga teacher/real estate agent, to come in and speak with us in our studio about sparking creativity through stepping out of your comfort zone.
Mindfulness has been shown to improve creativity, but first you have to be in a growth mindset, open to learning and curiosity, before you can really tap into the huge well of creativity we all possess. Whether for work or pleasure, creativity serves a critical function in our ability to maintain well-being.
It’s really miraculous that we have innate creativity. Some of you may be saying right now that you don’t. You don’t paint or write or sing. But creativity is more than The Arts. It’s how we solve problems. Albert Einstein said that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We have to think differently. Creativity is what sparks our ability to learn new ideas or concepts. It’s how we connect and work with people that are different from us. Creativity is how we make scientific leaps, succeed at business, and build and maintain relationships.
So what’s the problem? One of the biggest challenges in getting creative is our very own brains. Our brains weigh about 3 pounds but eat up 20% of our body’s energy, so the brain is always seeking ways to conserve energy. That means it tends to default to the neuro-pathways of what we’ve done in the past. Remember, the brain looks for the familiar, which is why we see patterns occurring in our lives over and over. It’s why we tend to get what we expect.
We have to dig deeper and get off the path of least resistance that our brains default to. We have to do something new. We have to step out of our comfort zone. That may feel scary, but it’s not really dangerous. Learning a new skill, getting confused, feeling uncertain – these are all things that many of us try to avoid, but it is in fact the switch to turn on our creative process.
Another barrier to getting creative is our fear of failure. That needs a total reframe! Most of our greatest successes come out of past failures. Failure is not only how we learn, but the majority of the time, it’s the only time we learn. When everything’s going great, we don’t want to do anything to rock the boat, so we’re not learning anything. We’re skating along for as long as possible. Did you know that one of the co-creators of Game of Thrones failed for years as a writer?
D.B. Weiss said that the key to his success with Game of Thrones was to quit holding on so tight. Again, this is that automatic response to avoid change or move out of our comfort zone. We cling to familiarity and routine, partly because our brains are sending us the signal to do so. In order to conserve energy! If we don’t step out of that comfort zone, we’re not tapping into our creativity. And creativity is not only a joy in life, it’s critical to fully experiencing life.
As Melissa described so beautifully in the interview, you have to push boundaries and figure out what works. You may try several things that just don’t float your boat. But once you experience that feeling of “wow,” you know that you’ve found something to pursue. Something to put your creativity skills to the test. You don’t have to quit your job, move out of state, divorce your spouse or even go back to school. You can keep the parts of your life that feel secure and safe, while venturing out into something new beyond that, which in turn, could make those safe and secure areas of your life more vibrant.
Mindfulness allows us to broaden our perspective. It increases our self-awareness, which in turn allows us to see areas where we might be limiting ourselves and doubting our abilities. Give creativity a try. If failure was not possible and money was no issue, what would you like to try in life? You just identified something new to try! You’ve found a road map to increasing and utilizing your creativity. Let those creative juices flow and have fun!
For the podcast version of this post, as well as a bonus interview with Melissa Sims, listen here.