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Study: Discovering New Ways to Boost Your Creativity


What is personal creativity? And can it be developed?

Personal creativity includes novel ideas and experiences. Think a new hairdo, a shortcut in servicing one’s car engine or a clever conversation.

According to a recent study, everyone can learn to develop personal creativity.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Jeanne Nakamura of Claremont University published their findings in the Handbook of Adult Development and Learning (Oxford University Press, 2006).

"Creativity is the juice that nurtures aging, filling it with hope and possibility," the authors write.

The one essential is curiosity, the desire to learn. People who are interested in new knowledge, who enjoy the thrill of discovery, are well on their way to living the creative life. Importantly, nurturing our creativity juices is something we can all do.

The authors offer these suggestions:

Expect to be surprised: Start each day with a sense of expectancy. If you stay alert and pay full attention, even the simplest sight, sound, person or conversation can reveal the unexpected.

Surprise yourself: Put a dent in your regular routine; surprise yourself or your friends by doing something different. Step out of character; express an opinion or ask a question you would not ordinarily ask. Take up a new activity, try a new style of clothing, or visit a different restaurant.

Along the way, you may stumble on new interests that are enjoyable and meaningful. Take them seriously. Plan to devote time to the experiences you find the most rewarding.

Sharpen your perception skills: Significances beckon at every turn. However, to see them you must be attentive and open. Learning to perceive means being able to temporarily suspend the generic characteristics of experience and focus instead on their uniqueness. "When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it," Georgia O’Keeffe wrote, "It’s your world for the moment."