Today we will discuss a few effective science-backed, research-backed ways to boost your creativity
In one of my workshops for enhancing creativity, I asked the participants to write their goal on a paper, with their left hand. They were surprised and curious as to why I am making this strange request. It was an unusually funny act for them. Many of them said they had never written anything with their left hand before. I explained the split brain theory of Roger Sperry, who won the Nobel prize for this. According to Sperry’s theory, human brain has two hemispheres with separate functions, left brain is logical and analytical while right brain is related to creativity, intuition and emotions etc. The left side of the body is controlled by right brain and right side by left brain. When you use your left hand your right brain is activated. A large majority of people are right handed and they predominantly use that hand for different activities, including writing. So the left brain cells are activated more frequently and effectively while the right brain is less activated. By deliberately using your left hand for different activities, your creative right brain can be stimulated.
In the creativity workshop some more exercises and activities were demonstrated in order to stimulate right brain. The participants were extremely enthusiastic in leaning through these funny exercises. Some of them came forward to share their personal experiences to support the theory. One of them was a play write who usually wrote plays for professional drama groups. Once he got a contract from a drama company for writing a play for them.
He enthusiastically started writing the play for them, but unexpectedly he met with an accident and his right hand was fractured. He could not continue his writing since his right hand was plastered. He told the drama company authorities that it was impossible for him to complete and submit the play within the agreed time limit. But they insisted that they have to get it in time since the season for staging the drama will be over if delayed. They even offered their help for writing down his dictation.
Considering the urgency he tried to write the play with his left hand, even though it was not easy. Somehow or other the entire play was written with his left hand and gave it to them in time. They did all arrangements to stage this play in different places. When the new drama was staged the response was beyond their expectation. It was well accepted and appreciated by the public. Each scene was so emotional to make the people wet their eyes. The drama company got record collection for each show. The play write was well appreciated and rewarded, but he did not know the secret behind this unexpected success in creativity. Only after knowing about the split brain theory he realized the hidden secret behind this. He is now very much interested to activate his creative brain by using his left hand more and doing some other exercises.
Are lefties more creative?
Is it only accidental that a great number of highly creative people were left handed? About ninety percent of population is of right handed people and the world is designed for the righties. The maximum numbers of world’s highly creative people are from lefties. Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Marie curie, Leo Tolstoy, Aristotle, Mozart, Pablo Picasso, Mark Twain and other famous artists and scientists were left handed. Many psychologists believe that they might have become more creative since they usually activated their right brain by the predominant use of the left hand.
The famous child educational psychologist and former UCLA associate professor Charlotte Reznick, who is left handed herself shared her experiences; “When we are left handed our right brains are usually dominant and that’s where creativity and intuition are centered. So it’s often easier for us to be creative than logical’.
From my personal observation of the lefties and the feedback got from their relatives and friends I have come to understand that they are more loving, empathetic and emotional. They seem to be more intuitive and they find unique solutions to problems. They are seen as more artistic and fun loving than right handed people.
How to activate your creative brain and boost creative thinking
Psychologists have developed several exercises and activities for activating the creative right brain. Harvard Medical school psychiatry professor and author of several books on brain exercises once revealed; ‘Exercise is the best medicine for our brain. Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain’. A number of creativity exercises are discussed below.
1.Writing with left hand:
It is found by researchers that writing with your non dominant hand will help you to enhance your creativity and to balance both brains. Right handed persons can write with their left hand and lefties can write with their right hand.
Lucia Capacchionne, the author of the famous book: The Power of Your Other Hand: A Course in Channeling the Inner Wisdom of the Right Brain’ aptly advises to practice writing or drawing using the non-dominant hand. This will stimulate your right brain and will help you enhance your creative, intuitive and artistic talents.
2. Clenching the left hand
In a 2010 study conducted by Israel researcher Abraham Goldstein found that unilateral muscle contractions of the left hand increase creative thinking. The participants of the study who contracted the left hand achieved higher scores in creativity tests than those who used their right hand and those who did not contract either hand. When you contract your left hand, your right brain is activated, enhancing your creativity.
In another study, German researchers found that athletes under pressure can improve their performance by squeezing a ball in their left hand or simply clenching the left hand, before competition.
3. Breathing through left nostril
A Germen nose specialist noticed in 1895 that most people breathe only through one nostril at a time and the body changes the dominant nostril almost every 4 hours. Studies show that when you breathe through the left nostril the right brain is more active and vice versa. You can deliberately try to breathe through your left nostril after closing the right nostril for activating your creative right brain.
In yoga, alternate nostril breathing is a powerful pranayama (anuloma- viloma) to activate both sides of your brain and to establish hemispheric balance.
4. Chewing your food slowly
It has been found by researchers that the act of chewing or mastication can increase blood circulation and oxygen supply to the brain cells in the pre-frontal cortex and hippocampus. This will help to improve your short term and long term memories and other brain capabilities. It can improve the learning skills and thinking power. It is proved that masticatory stimulation can prevent degeneration of senile brain functions and stress induced disorders. So make it a habit to chew your food slowly and mindfully. Beware of the taste, smell, color, and the softness of the food you eat. Involve your five senses fully in the process of eating and chewing. Even using chewing gum will help to stimulate your whole brain.
5. Singing or playing music
Researchers at the University of Jyvaskyta in Finland found in 2015 that playing musical instruments or singing music, can enhance both right & left brain activities. Listening to music and learning music also can activate both hemispheres of your brain. According to Dr. Terry Lyles, the famous psychologist and author of the well known book; The Secret of Navigating Life’s Storms pointed out that listening to or performing music helps to stimulate the auditory cortex of the right brain and leads to increased creativity.
Scientific studies have found a greater degree of brain activity in the right hemisphere of meditators, compared with non-meditators. This shows that meditation causes enhanced creativity and intuitive powers. You can choose any type of meditation like transcendental meditation, self-awareness meditation, humming meditation, yoga nidra etc.
7. Laughter and Humor
Scientific studies have shown that humor and laughter can boost creativity since they stimulate prefrontal cortex and other areas of brain related decision making and emotions. Brain mapping has shown that the entire brain has to work together to enjoy a joke fully. The left hemisphere sets up the joke and the right hemisphere helps the brain to get the joke. In short, humor and laughter nurture creativity.
According to Edward de Bono, the world famous physician, psychologist and author of several bestselling books; humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.
8. Brain Yoga
Selected yogic exercises can boost your brain and enhance creativity. The following exercise is found to be very powerful to stimulate the acupressure points in the ear lobe related to right and left hemispheres of the brain and to enhance creativity and memory.
Firstly, stand strait facing east. Lift your left arm and hold your right earlobe strongly with your thumb and index finger, thumb being in the front.
Lift your right arm to hold your left earlobe with your right thumb and index finger. Now your right arm will be crossing over your left arm.
Inhale deeply and squat down slowly to a sitting position convenient to you. Stay in this position for a few seconds, and then slowly rise with exhalation.
You may repeat this 15 to 21 times. During this exercise keep your back strait and your tong on the roof of your mouth near your teeth.
This is a powerful exercise for maintaining the hemispheric balance of the brain and enhancing creativity.
Daniel H. Pink, the famous American bestselling author and journalist once confessed; ‘ I am trying to get my right brain muscles in shape. I actually think this shift towards right brain abilities has the potential to make us both better off and better in deeper sense.’ As the American astro biologist and author, Carl Segan pointed out; ‘The brain is like a muscle. When it is in use we feel very good’.
Let us not forget the popular maxim; ‘Use it or lose it’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. JOHN MUZHUTHETTU is a Human Resource Consultant, National Trainer, and Counselor. Formerly he was the Deputy Chief Engineer, Kerala State Electricity Board and is still working as an external faculty of HRD Programmes of KSEB. He is also a faculty of Department of Management Studies, Mar Augusthinose College, Ramapuram, under M.G.University, Kerala. He is the PG course co-ordinator of MHRM.
He is a columnist in several Magazines, like ‘Business Deepika’, ‘Creative Business’, ‘Donbosco’ etc. His articles have been published in many magazines and journals. His several speeches have been aired by All India Radio. His interviews on various subjects have been telecasted by Power Vision TV. He is the author of five best-selling books:
‘Stress-Manassasthra- Aathmeeya Pariharangel’. (Current Books, Thrissur) 4th Edition
Vijayiyude Vyakthithwam (Current Books, Thrissur)
Jeevitham Santhushtamakan, Nithya Yauvanam Nedan.(CSS, Thiruvalla)2ndEdition
Emotional Intelligence-Jeevithavijayathinu (CSS, Thiruvalla)
Vijayarahsyangal (Current Books, Thrissur)
As a trainer, he has conducted more than a thousand seminars and workshops for teachers, parents, students, executives and others, on several subjects like Stress Management, Time Management, Personality Development, Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual intelligence for Excellence, Communicative Skills, Assertiveness, Motivation, Study Skills, Effective Parenting, Counselling Skills etc. He is an external training faculty of Power Engineers Training and Research Centre of KSEB. He is an external faculty of IMG Cochin. He is also the Secretary of Upasana Cultural Centre, Thodupuzha.
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