Matt Fuchs wrote an article titled Creativity may be key to healthy aging. Here are ways to stay inspired for the Washington Post (July 12, 2021).

« When researchers talk about creativity, they aren’t limiting it to the arts. Author and Georgetown University psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal defines being creative as “having the ability to make unexpected connections, either to see commonplace things in new ways — or unusual things that escape the attention of others — and realize their importance.” »

Travel:  « “People who travel tend to be more creative,” said Darya Zabelina, a psychology professor at the University of Arkansas. Traveling encourages people to reexamine their models of reality, Zabelina said. Some studies show that travelers have more creative success, and people who enjoy unfamiliar experiences perform better on divergent thinking tests, open-ended questions calling for numerous ideas. Performance on these tests differs from IQ and may predict aspects of real-world creativity. »

« Any novel stimulation, not just world travel, can benefit creativity. »

« Letting your mind wander helps, too. Many highly creative people make time for idle thoughts unrelated to specific tasks. This engages the mind’s “default mode network,” brain regions that facilitate the imagination. »

« Another tip: Be playful, even childlike. »

Apply knowledge: « Generating ideas is one part of the creativity equation, but knowledge is required to identify the ones that will work. Here, some older people thrive. »

« Psychologists find that “cross-training” is important; successful opera composers, for example, experiment with non-operatic genres to make their compositions more unusual. And especially creative scientists pursue multiple lines of research within an area. »

« Likewise, forming atypical collaborations may push your preconceptions, enhancing creativity … But straying far could be detrimental. Bruce Weinberg, an economist at Ohio State, found that economists who won the Nobel Prize later in life were creative synthesizers of information they accumulated in one area over a long time. “If you’re jumping around,” Weinberg said, “there’s less opportunity to do that.” »

Meditation: « Research suggests it strengthens the executive function of the brain, helping to prune out ideas that won’t work. And by reducing stress, meditation may embolden strategic risk-taking, another element of creative success, according to Rosenthal’s anecdotal research. He also believes that meditation cultivates what psychologists call “field independence,” using your own compass to problem-solve without being overly influenced by others. »

Stay strong:  « Regular exercise increases stamina, which is necessary for generating many ideas. »

Related reading — Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese

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