Exercise More in 2018 – Strengthen Your Creativity Muscle

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Exercise More in 2018 – Strengthen Your Creativity Muscle

By Kevin A. Lenkner, Executive Director of Mimbres Region Arts Council

Yes, it’s that time again. The alignment of the calendar, a glance in the mirror and an endless stream of fitness commercials trigger inward reflection. This year, the Mimbres Region Arts Council suggests you try something different. Work out your creativity muscle.

Bulk it up! Build Mass! Increase flexibility and strength! Get Ripped! Deliver Peak Performance and Achieve Results!

Sound familiar? These phrases also apply to your creativity muscle and fitness. You may wonder exactly where your creativity muscle is located. If you guessed the brain, you are mostly correct. However, the physical health of the rest of your body heavily influences the effectiveness of your creativity muscle. Think about that last time you had a bad cold or flu. It was probably not the time to have many Leonardo Da Vinci moments. Conversely, one of the best actions you can take to increase creativity fitness is physical exercise. Cardiovascular activity increases blood flow to the brain; giving your creativity muscle the fuel it needs to excel.

There is no need to purchase special workout apparel or expensive exercise machines that inevitably transform into a spare clothes rack. You don’t have to join a gym, a league or attend weekly meetings. There is no need to check with your doctor before exercising your creativity muscle. But you might consider some warm ups. Prepare your body and mind with these simple activities.

1. Be curious. Cultivate a passion for knowledge.

2. Make time in your life to focus on yourself and your creative fitness.

3. Adopt a growth mindset. Be positive about your potential. Banish negative thoughts and assumptions about your abilities.

4. Define your creative challenge. Choose a problem/opportunity from your personal or professional life. Consider the ideas you have previously tried. Listing your challenge will help give direction and purpose to your creativity workout.

5. Empty your mind. Un-focus. Devote 10-15 minutes NOT looking at your phone, monitor or TV screens. Spend time NOT talking to someone and NOT reading a book. Unfocused time allows the brain to start wandering a little more and start forming new random connections. These random connections are the spark of a creative idea.

Now that you are properly warmed up, you are ready for your workout.

Creativity Exercise: Break Your Routine + Add New Experiences Into Your Life!

What better way to beat the winter blahs! Smash your routines and add something new to your life. Try the following:

  • Take a different route to work. Add five minutes to your commute and explore one block over from your normal path. Do the same on your way home. Take neighborhood streets when possible. Travel NASCAR-style and only take left turns or try it UPS truck style and only take right turns. (Yeah, that’s a thing. Look it up!)
  • Go out of your way and have a conversation with a new person every day or every week. Seek out people who are not like you or your friends. Chat with someone from another country, another generation or another lifestyle. You will learn viewpoints and ways of life that are amazingly different from your own perspective.
  • Be an explorer of the world. From Keri Smith’s incredible book, adopt some of her approaches to exploring the world without having to leave. Always be looking; Consider everything to be alive and animate; everything is interesting- just look closer; observe for long durations – and short durations too.

Adding variety and new experiences spark creative ideas formed by random fresh connections between old ideas. Neural pathways will find different routes inside your brain that occasionally lead to solutions to whatever challenge you are working on.

Creativity is one of the top skills employers are seeking as the 21st Century economy evolves. Problem solving and innovation are important to everyone’s day job whether you work in a factory, office or at home. The Mimbres Region Arts Council has a dedicated blog, Creativity Counts, for those interested in learning more about creativity. In addition, a separate blog, Nurturing Creativity, has been created to address the creativity crisis children are facing as arts and music classes are decreasing at the same time these skills are the most sought after by employers. Both blogs can be found in the INSPIRE section at www.mimbresarts.org.

Wishing You Well is a weekly community wellness message facilitated by the New Mexico Department of Health’s Southwest Region Health Promotion Team.

Article is reprinted here with permission from Silver City Daily Press.

Kevin Lenkner can be reached at kevin@mimbresarts.org or at the Mimbres Region Arts Council, 575 538-2505.