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5. Create restrictions

5. Create restrictions

When you are trying to solve a problem, people often rely on the obvious, building on existing ideas in order to come up with the easiest solution.

  • This often leads to a good outcome, but it can also lead to mental sets and functional fixedness that makes it challenging to think of creative solutions.

One way to overcome this is to place some restrictions or resistance on your thinking can actually lead to more creative solutions.

  • In other words, think further than the obvious.

1. Go for a walk

1. Go for a walk

One 2014 study found that people tend to be more creative when they are walking rather than when they are sitting down.

  • Previous research has shown that regular physical activity can play an important role in boosting and protecting cognitive abilities, but this study found that a simple walk could temporarily improve certain types of thinking.

So if you are tied to a desk and struggling to come up with a good idea, try going for a quick walk to see if inspiration might strike.

10. Surround yourself with blue

10. Surround yourself with blue

Colour psychology suggests that different colours can have varying effects on moods, emotions, and behaviours. According to a study, the colour blue tends to make people think more creatively.


  • According to the researchers, the colour blue helps encourage people to think outside the box. Since blue is heavily associated with nature, peace, and tranquillity, the colour tends to help people feel safe to explore and be creative.

So the next time you are trying to find inspiration, try using the colour blue to see if it might trigger some new ideas.

9. Meditate

9. Meditate

Research has also shown that certain types of meditation are linked to an increase in creative thinking. Meditation has long been used as a relaxation technique, but recent research has demonstrated that health benefits extend far beyond relaxation.

  • One study found that using something known as open-monitoring meditation in which the individual is receptive to any and all thoughts and sensations without focusing on any particular object or idea, can increase divergent thinking and the generation of new ideas.

Look for ways to incorporate meditation techniques into your daily life.

4. Surround yourself with inspiration

4. Surround yourself with inspiration

A positive psychologist suggests that surroundings also play a role in the creative process. Stimulating environments can facilitate creativity, so surrounding yourself with things that you find inspiring and motivating can help.

  • Create an office space that helps you feel inspired and energized. Seek out stimulating experiences and settings that can help trigger inventiveness.

2. Reward yourself

2. Reward yourself

Research has found that rewarding things that are already intrinsically rewarding can backfire and actually reduce motivation, a phenomenon known as the overjustification effect.

  • So it might seem like offering some sort of reward for creative thinking might have the opposite effect, stifling creativity and motivation.

Yet research has found that when rewards are offered explicitly for producing creative works, creativity actually increases.

  • So if you are trying to find inspiration, try promising yourself some type of desirable treat as a reward for coming up with a creative solution.

3. Create some psychological distance

3. Create some psychological distance

People often suggest taking a break from a task when you've hit a creative block. Studies have found that placing some psychological distance between yourself and the problem might also do the trick.

  • Researchers found that when participants imagined that a problem originated from a far location versus a close one, they solved more problems and came up with more creative solutions.

The next time you face a difficult problem, try imagining that the issue is distant and disconnected from your current location.

8. Get emotional

8. Get emotional

Researchers have long thought that positive emotions were strongly linked to creativity, but further research has found that both strong positive and negative emotional states were linked to creative thinking.

  • This doesn’t mean you should rush out and put yourself in a bad mood just to gain some inspiration. But the next time you do find yourself in a negative emotional state, try applying some of that energy towards solving a problem or accomplishing a task rather than just sitting around fuming.

Negative emotions can be unpleasant, but you can make the most of them.

6. Daydream

6. Daydream

In today's high-tech, connected, distraction is just a click away. Instead of filling every single idle moment with apps, games, email, website visits, try letting yourself actually be bored for a spell.

  • In one study, bored participants performed better on creativity tests than those who were elated, relaxed ​or distressed. In another study, researchers found that boredom gives people time to daydream, which then leads to greater creativity.

7. Re-conceptualize the problem

7. Re-conceptualize the problem

One common trait that creative people tend to share is that they typically re-conceptualize problems more often than less creative people do. Instead of continuing to throw yourself at the same mental wall, try taking a step back.

  • Revisit the problem from the very beginning. Is there a different way to think about the problem? Can you look at the issue from a different angle?

Giving yourself this chance to start over with a fresh point of view can foster creative thinking and lead to more novel solutions.

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