Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mind Full of Creativity

By: Jennifer Quarrie

True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of ones self; but the point is not only to get out - you must stay out; and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand.
- Henry James

Being creative can seem like a tremendous task.  Solving the biggest problems in our lives is no small thing.  Generating large volumes of ideas, we can get carried away.  Facing the task of implementing our grand solutions can seem overwhelming.  But is it really creativity that is so massive, or is it the accumulation of all the other things on our minds?

When our minds are full, we are not free to give our creative goals the attention they need.  Creativity needs special types of attention, many of which relate to the practice of being mindful being aware of what we are doing with an attitude of open curiosity and compassionate acceptance.  So how do we transition from being mind full to mindful?  Here are a couple of tips that may bring those preoccupations down to size.

Slow It Down
Nothing brings attention to the present moment like significantly slowing down what we are doing.  Not only does it increase focus and awareness, but it also calms the stress hormones responsible for keeping that endless, urgent to-do list from constantly disrupting productive thought.

Notice the Obvious
We are built to ignore the familiar; it saves incredible mental resources.  Yet as the familiar begins to change, we may fail to notice.  Using mindfulness to perceive what is in front of us helps make the world new while maintaining presence and focus.

Rock the Routine
Stepping out of our own rhythms can bring remarkable perspective.  It also requires significant attention to navigate new terrain.  Inviting circumstances that demand focus can build mental levels of attention.

Embrace Ambiguity
Ambiguous situations can feel disorienting.  When faced with ambiguity we have a tendency to focus on the small details we can control and ignore the big picture.  Mindfulness helps us accept that ambiguity for what it is and use focused attention to face it.  Once the ambiguous feels more comfortable, it becomes easier to keep the big picture in mind and devise true strategy for change.

Balance Acceptance & Hope
Hope is one of the most potent forms of motivation.  Much of creativity relies on hope.  We project potential futures and set out to materialize them.  Yet to do so we must be clear about the present.  Mindfulness helps us recognize the current state of things.  Yet just because we accept the present does not mean we cannot have hope for the future.  Juxtaposing our current and ideal states empowers us to identify and pursue the paths to reach it.

Use Intuition
The better we know ourselves, the better decisions we can make.  Using mindfulness to connect with ourselves increases self-awareness and self-knowledge in a non-judgmental way.  Using intuition to connect with the heart empowers the head.

Make a Choice
We choose how we react to everything in life.  By setting an intention and focusing on it, we are better able to act in accordance with our intentions.  Mindfulness helps to transform our behaviors from unthinking reactions to deliberate responses.

When our minds are overflowing with preoccupations, we can use deliberate actions to change gears.  Opening space to experience the present brings perspective, and those big tasks dont seem so daunting anymore.  By being more mindful we can open space to have a mind full of creativity.

 Honoré, C. (2004). In praise of slowness: Challenging the cult of speed. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
 Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion.
 Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2011). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
 Van Bilsen, H. (2009). Zee Beatty and the Socks of Doom. Herford: IAPT Consulting.  Retrieved from
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Bio: Jennifer Quarrie is a dynamic innovation strategist and creativity expert with a visionary outlook and a knack for metacognition, facilitation and listening. With a BA in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia and an MSc in Creative Studies from the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at SUNY Buffalo State, she incorporates budding areas of mind and creativity research into all of her work. As a leader and speaker she inspires wellness, fosters transformation and emboldens self-actualization.

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