How New Experiences Give you a Creative Edge

This article will examine the connection between open mindedness, new experiences, and developing a creative edge.  

Rigidity vs Curiosity 

As we get older, it’s easy to become set in our ways. When you’ve done something one way for so long, it becomes second nature. After doing something a certain way countless times, we develop an inclination that our way is the “right” way to do it.

In reality, there are many ways to do anything, and right vs wrong is entirely subjective.  

According to a study in Scientific American,

“openness to new experiences is the strongest and most consistent personality trait that predicts creative achievement in the arts and sciences.”

Scientific American

An open mind tends to yield more creative results and solutions. If we only entertain one way of thinking, how many solutions are we leaving on the table? Creativity requires loose, flexible, and broad thinking.  

There is nothing wrong with establishing a certain way of doing things. The trouble comes when we perceive our way as the only way to do things. Curiosity is at the core of creativity. Curiosity requires humility. If we think our way is the only way of doing something, we shut down the idea of learning from other people. If we refuse to learn from other people and experiences, we run the risk of plateauing in our growth. 

Is there anything you think rigidly about? Try and identify one thing you are absolutely certain about, and investigate why you are so certain. Is there nothing that would change your mind?

The point is, creativity involves constant evolution of ideas, and a no ceilings approach to learning. The right answer today might not make any sense a week or a year from now. A creative mindset will adapt to the changing times, a rigid mind will reject the changes and become stagnant. 

New Experiences 

Are you stuck in a routine? Many of us do the exact same thing every single day. A lot of our jobs can require it. Our brains move through variations of the same thought patterns and experiences daily to accomplish our work. What is this doing to our creativity? 

How often are you having new experiences? Travel is one way to do this. A change in scenery can do wonders for the creative mind. A new perspective trickles over into other areas of our life, and allows for new thought patterns about familiar topics. You don’t have to travel far or go on a lavish vacation. The point is the expose the brain to something new. This could even mean simply taking a new route on your walk home.

person walking in the woods to boost creative thinking

Exposing your mind to new ideas is an even easier way to create new experience in your daily life. If travel is not an option for you at the moment, take your mind on a journey by listening to podcasts, or reading books on topics that interest you and expand your way of thinking. 

Creativity is a mindset. A mindset that requires openness and exploration. It’s a way of looking at the world. How can we cultivate this mindset? By seeking out new and unusual experiences and information. 

The same study in Scientific American stated that,

“openness to experience is absolutely essential to creativity. Those who are high in openness tend to be imaginative, curious, perceptive, creative, artistic, thoughtful and intellectual. They are driven to explore their own inner worlds of ideas, emotions, sensations, and fantasies and, outwardly, to constantly seek out and attempt to make meaning of new information in their environment.” 

Learn Something New Every Day 

Challenge yourself to learn one new thing every day. If your brain is used to taking in new information and digesting it with an open mind, you will subconsciously begin to do that with everything you encounter. Intentionally placing these practices into your daily life can increase your baseline ability think expansively moving forward. 

Consider a “word of the day” calendar or learning a new fact from google every day. Make an effort to talk with a stranger. Read a book outside your typical genre preference. There are thousands of ways to develop a practice around ongoing learning. The practice in itself will train your brain to think broadly and consider multiple perspectives, which is crucial for creativity. 

Set up a 30 day challenge for yourself to learn something new every day, and see how it affects your creativity. 

Seek Novelty, Make Art, Help Out

Jamie Wheal, co-founder of the Flow Genome Project has some fantastic advice for anyone experiencing burnout or a creative block; “seek novelty, make art, help out.” 

If you are in a creative rut, seeking novelty or beauty can help snap you out of it. Make a point to watch the sunset or sunrise. Spend time in nature, expose your brain to beauty, seek it out. When you actively look for it, the subconscious mind makes note of this, and begins to seek out the beauty in all situations you encounter. 

Make art. This involves play. Write something, draw something, play an instrument, sing a song. Make some form of artistic expression. The action in itself is where the growth lies. As CreativeLive founder Chase Jarvis says, creativity is muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Whatever you create doesn’t need to serve a specific purpose or have some professional value. The point is the action of creation in itself, and the mindset it creates. 

Help out. How can you be of service to someone today? When we help others, we help ourselves. 

man offering a helping hand

“The World is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the World will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you. The World is what you are.”

Thomas Dreier

The point of all these efforts is to cultivate a mindset that will foster creativity. The more you develop a personality of openness and exploration, the stronger your creative inspiration and output will become. For further learning on how to get into a state of creative flow, check out our class with Steven Kotler.

Matthew Callans