Do you like this outfit? My new boyfriend? The color I painted my house? We’ve all been guilty at some point, or in my case, multiple times in our lives when we care more about what other people think then what we think about ourselves. It’s easy to fall into this trap.

Approval is a natural way to feel accepted by others. It also blocks creativity, imagination or even the ability to speak up and share your true opinion? It plays a big part in holding you back from making core decisions that are right for you and only you. Think about it? How can anyone else REALLY know what is right for you except for YOU?

It sounds easy but honestly the process of arriving to the place of not caring about what others think is a process. The need for approval and people pleasing used to eat me up inside. I eventually figured out it was because I’d actually lost the ability to form my own individual opinion.

Where do you want to eat? Wherever you want to go. Which movie do you want to see. The one you picked. When I went with what you wanted. I didn’t have to figure out what I wanted. Easy peasy until it wasn’t working for me anymore.

I took specific steps to find my voice. First, I embraced the value of my opinion and let go of the value I put on other’s opinions. Next, I found my true voice and used it to express my real thoughts. Most importantly, I let go of my own self critic and I haven’t missed her since!

It is human nature to doubt yourself but if you try practicing these subtle but impactful shifts you’ll find your inner voice and find the courage to express it without fear of judgement.

 

 

Do you add an extra spice on a whim when trying a new recipe?  How about adding a bright colored scarf to your outfit on the way out the door?  I know you’ve picked up that item from Target that wasn’t on the list because you could not resist the elusive packaging!

Spontaneity is considered an art form.

Everything we do involves some sort of improvisation in any given situation. Conversations are a great example because you never really know what the person is going to say next.  You’re in the moment thinking of clever and engaging responses to keep the dialogue interesting.  There is probably nothing more joyful than watching the spontaneity of a child. They spot the cracks and crevices of objects in life because they live freely in the present.

Spontaneity can also be a recipe for problem-solving.

When a curve ball is thrown at you at the last minute, the first thing you do is think on your feet.  Think about mapping out your entire day only to find out your car has to go to the shop.  An improvisation occurs on the spot.  You regroup and move on, problem solved.

The entire concept of improvisation in life and art, brings us up close and personal with creative energies we may not even know we had.  It allows us to tap into a moment of being true to ourselves by forcing us to follow our immediate gut responses. Creativity is awakened if we allow ourselves to open up to it.

I spend a lot of time in airports.  As a result, I experience a lot of flight delays which are out of my control.  I’d be in a constant state of angst and frustration if I didn’t choose to use the time in an upbeat way.  I look at this as an opportunity for free play; walking around in the stores; trying on silly hats; or delving deep into the indulgences of the tabloids.  The delay will always take care of itself eventually, so I use this downtime to inject some play into my work day.

If you want to strengthen your own creative powers, live spontaneously in the moment at work, at home and at play.  Enjoy the newfound excitement that comes with using your imagination in the moment. Right now. Today.

 

When was the last time you went outside? I’m not talking about running to the store when you are out of milk. I’m talking about really allowing yourself some time outdoors to connect with nature. There have been numerous studies done on the impact of spending time in nature and how it affects your mental health. Did you know it also boosts your creativity?

Being outdoors makes us feel more alive! It gives us energy, makes us happier and helps us relieve the everyday stresses of our overscheduled lives. It also opens the door to creativity. Just the sights and sounds of nature can immediately make you feel more relaxed. Take a walk or ride your bike on a nature trail and just try not to notice the textures of the leaves and trees against the backdrop of a beautiful blue sky. It may be the first time you realize how many actual shades of green exist on the color wheel!

If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do, most of the day—it is speculated that the more we bury ourselves in technology, ignoring the natural world around us, the more damage we are doing to our brains. All the access we have to technical gadgets can actually negatively affect our pre-frontal cortex. A simple 20 minutes outside enjoying nature can significantly decrease our levels of cortisol, a hormone stress indicator. Taking advantage of a “blue-green” environment includes spending time close to water and has been proven to relax our brains and increase our energy levels even quicker. As a result, we see bursts of creativity, problem-solving and feelings of enhanced well-being.

With all of these benefits of being out in nature, it is probably no surprise that being closer to Mother Nature herself helps us to be kinder to others. Research at the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that after being exposed to beautiful nature scenes, participants acted more generously, trustful, and helpful toward others. Considering these are all factors which might influence our important relationships, do your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors a favor, GO outside!

 

People talk about having writer’s block or being in a creative rut. It is a very real situation. The truth is we all have our own versions of writer’s block. Often when you get into a routine, a rut happens. Sometimes you’ve been in it so long you begin to think that IS your routine. You need to break free from the norm of your day-to-day activities.

You can start with really simple things like taking a different road to work and noticing new places and things along the way. The next time you are in the grocery store, pause in the fruit and vegetables section and really take in all the colors and shapes surrounding you. Grab some purple potatoes instead of the same old plain ones. Did you know you can get white asparagus instead of green? The point is you are taking time to get a fresh perspective which can be a breath of fresh air for your spirit.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, recommends going on an artist date once a week. What is an artist date? It’s time you take for yourself, to do something for yourself. It can reignite your creativity and wake up your inspiration. The key to a successful artist date is that you do not have to be an artist, you do not have to take a lot of time, and you do not have to spend any money. My favorite artist date is to steal a couple hours and walk around vintage stores. I love the scents and textures of the nostalgic items. My creativity kicks in when I envision how I could re-purpose those items today. I once found an old rustic door and made it into a desktop!

The return on the investment of taking yourself on a date is plentiful. Capturing those rare moments when you can reconnect with the real you can feel like meeting an old friend and catching up. Give it a try and see how quickly you can shake off your rut and get back to a fresher and livelier you.

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