Tag Archives: creativity

A Surprising Way to Boost Creativity in Your Life and Marriage

Happy Life: Happy Marriage Series

Researchers have found a surprising path to boosting creativity:  Allow yourself to be bored. Think about it. When you finally allow yourself quiet time to shower, take a walk or a drive, garden or just sit in thought, creativity tends to strike in the form of a new idea or a solution to a nagging problem. (And by nagging problem, I don’t mean your wife.)

“Boredom is linked to creativity,” said Genevieve Bell, PhD, an anthropologist and director of interaction and experience research at Intel.  She adds that when we are constantly consuming media with all of our mobile devices—iPads, Kindles, smart phones, etc.—we don’t allow our brains enough time to develop new ideas. Even standing in line, we’re making calls or playing Angry Birds. It’s no wonder our lives feel so chaotic.

I enjoy spending most of my workday in silence to keep distractions to a minimum. Others think music is just the boost they need. Allowing your body to move while your mind is free may be an even better idea. Whether it’s gazing at nature, or gazing at our navels, we don’t have to feel guilty about these seemingly unproductive activities, as they just might precede a great idea.

Bell says we need to take time to stop and reflect, carve out technology-free time at work and at home, and unplug on weekends and vacations. Enjoy spending time with loved ones, doing nothing in particular.

Find Creative Marriage Solutions

Creativity boosts can obviously help us in our work and personal challenges, but they can also be used to solve problems in your marriage or family. For instance, if you’ve been arguing over two alternatives with your spouse, you may not see a third alternative that would satisfy you both. Without giving yourselves time to reflect, you may not even consider other options. Be creative, and consider every single possible solution.

Sometimes couples get in a funk and aren’t even sure why. Allowing your brain time to think without outside distractions can sometimes clarify the issues. Perhaps one person is feeling unappreciated or unsatisfied in their work, and they are projecting their frustrations on the marriage. We can’t begin to solve our problems without seeing them clearly, and we can’t see them clearly without down time to sort through our internal frustrations.

Don’t use all your downtime to focus on your problems, though. It would be much more helpful to use that downtime to focus on what you are grateful for, and to consider your spouse’s best attributes. Keeping these positive thoughts present in your mind will boost your marriage.

The research is a bit surprising in one way, though. Previously, I have read that boredom is terrible for marriages, and that we should work to do new, exciting, and fun activities together. I still think this is advocated and can tremendously help bond a couple. However, some alone time with nothing planned, or even some couple time to just hang out, can be very fruitful in a strange way. If you use that time to cuddle on the couch or connect about real issues rather than be bombarded with distractions, it’s an investment in the marriage, not a detriment. But then make time to plan something exciting as well.

Michele Weiner-Davis, a bestselling author and marriage counselor, has said one of her key pieces of advice for couples to improve their marriage is simply to spend more time together. However, it’s not really time spent together if one of you is updating her Facebook status every 15 minutes and the other is checking college football scores during dinner. Spend more dedicated time with the one you married, and it will pay dividends.

Do you have a tech-free room or designated time at your home? Do you experience any boredom in your day, or is it packed with activity from the time you rise until the time you hit the pillow?

Read this thoughtful post from Simple Marriage called “We have trouble communicating.” It’s not that we have trouble communicating, it’s that we have trouble with the message our spouse is communicating.

Photo by Graur Codrin courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Source for post: BNET.com

Why Your Brain and Your Marriage Need Vacations

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

Recently, I read a story of a miserable couple preparing to go on vacation. The wife was planning to file for divorce upon their return, but decided to proceed with their European trip. Their life was overrun with deadlines and expectations that neither of them enjoyed, and the outlook was grim. Upon arriving at their foreign locale, their eyes were opened to experiencing pleasure at the sights, sounds, flavors and interesting cultural marvels. They fell in love with the city. They even thought they might love each other. Realizing it was their life they didn’t love, not each other, they quit their former life, sold their home and moved to this new city with their children. Yes, it’s drastic, but I think a very interesting result of changing what their brain was regularly experiencing in their relationship.

CNN published an article recently on why your brain needs vacations. Here are some of the cited reasons a vacation can benefit your mind from Adam Galinsky, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University:

  • Detaching from a familiar environment can help gain new perspectives on everyday life.
  • Many people experience epiphanies when they travel, because they can view their life back home from a more detached, outsider’s view (similar to the couple above). I have experienced these epiphanies and made life-changing decisions as a result of gaining that detached perspective.
  • Being unplugged from work and in a natural or unusual setting can change the way your brain thinks and can increase creativity.
  • Immersing yourself in a different culture, along with its differing social norms and customs, reminds you that there’s more than one way of doing something.
  • Traveling abroad gives you a more nuanced understanding of yourselves.
  • Even eating at a new restaurant can jolt new ways of thinking.
  • To improve creativity, Galinsky found stronger effects among people who were living abroad than for those traveling for shorter periods. You may also get the benefits by working to understand the world through locals’ perspectives.
  • Harvard University professor, Ellen Langer, suggests you can have a mindfulness vacation without leaving home: taking note of new people, objects and events around you and getting out of your normal routine, being present and observant in a nonjudgmental way.

Marriages are often in need of creative solutions to new or old problems. Boosting your brain power with a real or virtual vacation could get your mind thinking in new ways. In addition, vacations can get your mind off the problems of your marriage and allow you to enjoy the person you chose to marry. It’s easier to love someone next to you when you have removed the stress and replaced it with beautiful settings and tasty food.

Langer suggests the key is to bring that new attitude and mindfulness back to your regular life, where everything is interesting, and enthusiasm is increased.

What new experiences do you have planned with your spouse this summer? What benefits do you hope for by getting away or taking a mindfulness vacation?

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com