Archive | June, 2005

10 Creativity Boosters

I’m not too sure I agree with #3 as I have found a few programs that are truly inspiring. Let’s just say we might be more selective in what we watch … and let it go at that.

© 2004 by James Corless

We are all naturally creative but there are ways of making the most of our gifts. Here are ten ways to boost your creativity.

1. Exercise your brain.
“Use it – or lose it!” applies as much to your brain as it does to your body. Brains need exercise to stay fit. Read a lot – challenging material, talk to smart people, have debates/discussions, do crosswords, learn something new, but do things to give your brain a regular workout.

2. Don’t do drugs or get drunk.
Creativity requires a clear head. You may think you’re creative when you’re smashed or stoned but next day your ideas don’t look so brilliant. That’s if you can read your writing.

3. Don’t watch TV.
It’s not called the Idiot Box for nothing. Feed your mind a more nutritional diet than the dumbed-down time-killers they serve up on TV.

4. Feed your mind.
Read as much as you can about all manner of things. Read books, magazines, web pages, newspapers, notices and the back of the corn-flakes package. Read to find information about your area of interest. Read to discover new things. Read to be informed, entertained, challenged and stimulated. Reading exercises your brain, provides you with new information – the basic material that fuels inspiration.

5. Eat right to think good.
Eat a balanced diet (there’s plenty of information on the Internet) that sustains you. Poor nutrition affects your mind as well as your body. Vitamin B is essential for brain function. Common sources include chicken and eggs, organ meats and legumes. Minerals are also essential for correct physical and mental function. Take a multi-vitamin supplement, if necessary.

6. Ask questions.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Curiosity kept her young and interested. And interesting, too. An enquiring mind is never bored. Children at school ask up to 65 questions a day. By the time we get to retiring age we’re down to asking only six (“Where can I sit down? What is the world coming to? etc)

7. Laugh.
Sadly, our laughter patterns follow the same downward curve as our question-asking – from 113 times a day as children to 11 as mature adults. Laughter is the best medicine. Thomas Edison started every day at work with a joke-telling session. The ability to laugh is a vital skill to creativity.

8. Play.
All work and no play makes anyone dull. Playing changes the mental gears, engages the right brain and lets the serious left-brain coast for a while.

9. Listen to music.
Play Bach. Or Mozart. When they played classical music to plants – they grew faster. When they played it to chickens, they laid more eggs. If you’re not more creative with Bach in the background, there could be something wrong with you. Or you’re not a chicken. Or a plant.

10. Enjoy silence.
Most of us live and work surrounded by distractions. Take time out for some peace, whether it means turning off the radio, going for a walk in the park or learning to meditate. Silence allows the mind to function more freely.

James Corless is an artist, writer and creativity coach.
[Sadly, when I tried to open Corless’ site, I couldn’t, however this list still contains some helpful reminders, so I’m glad to include it … maybe he will come back online with another URL.]
For more articles and creativity resources and free coaching visit or email him at


The Poetry in America Survey

The Poetry Foundation commissioned NORC [National Organization for Research – at the University of Chicago] to design and conduct Poetry in America, the first national survey of people’s attitudes toward and experiences with poetry.

This unprecedented study explores people’s reading habits in general, their formative and current experiences with poetry, their perceptions of poetry, poets and poetry readers, as well as the barriers that prevent people from reading poetry.

This ground-breaking national study is underway and will interview roughly equal numbers of users and non-users of poetry.

The Poetry Foundation plans to use results from this study as a baseline against which to measure the effectiveness of programs to reinvigorate poetry’s presence in American culture.

For more, visit The Poetry Foundation.

And to learn more about Poetry in America and other initiatives, visit their site.



11 Steps to a Better Brain

Here’s an article that will get you thinking … 11 Steps to a Better Brain, at The steps include:

Smart Drugs
Food for Thought
The Mozart Effect
Bionic Brains
Gainful Employment
Memory Marvels
Sleep On It
Body and Mind
Nuns on a Run
Attention Seeking
Positive Feedback

Here’s an excerpt (and I’m sure you’ve heard SOME of this before!):


You are what you eat, and that includes your brain. So what is the ultimate mastermind diet?

YOUR brain is the greediest organ in your body, with some quite specific dietary requirements. So it is hardly surprising that what you eat can affect how you think. If you believe the dietary supplement industry, you could become the next Einstein just by popping the right combination of pills. Look closer, however, and it isn’t that simple. The savvy consumer should take talk of brain-boosting diets with a pinch of low-sodium salt. But if it is possible to eat your way to genius, it must surely be worth a try.

First, go to the top of the class by eating breakfast. The brain is best fuelled by a steady supply of glucose, and many studies have shown that skipping breakfast reduces people’s performance at school and at work.

But it isn’t simply a matter of getting some calories down. According to research published in 2003, kids breakfasting on fizzy drinks and sugary snacks performed at the level of an average 70-year-old in tests of memory and attention. Beans on toast is a far better combination, as Barbara Stewart from the University of Ulster, UK, discovered. Toast alone boosted children’s scores on a variety of cognitive tests, but when the tests got tougher, the breakfast with the high-protein beans worked best. Beans are also a good source of fibre, and other research has shown a link between a high-fibre diet and improved cognition. If you can’t stomach beans before midday, wholemeal toast with Marmite makes a great alternative. The yeast extract is packed with B vitamins, whose brain-boosting powers have been demonstrated in many studies.

“Junk food is implicated in a slew of serious mental disorders”
A smart choice for lunch is omelette and salad. Eggs are rich in choline, which your body uses to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Researchers at Boston University found that when healthy young adults were given the drug scopolamine, which blocks acetylcholine receptors in the brain, it significantly reduced their ability to remember word pairs. Low levels of acetylcholine are also associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and some studies suggest that boosting dietary intake may slow age-related memory loss.

A salad packed full of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, should also help keep an ageing brain in tip-top condition by helping to mop up damaging free radicals. Dwight Tapp and colleagues from the University of California at Irvine found that a diet high in antioxidants improved the cognitive skills of 39 ageing beagles – proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Round off lunch with a yogurt dessert, and you should be alert and ready to face the stresses of the afternoon. That’s because yogurt contains the amino acid tyrosine, needed for the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenalin, among others. Studies by the US military indicate that tyrosine becomes depleted when we are under stress and that supplementing your intake can improve alertness and memory.

Don’t forget to snaffle a snack mid-afternoon, to maintain your glucose levels. Just make sure you avoid junk food, and especially highly processed goodies such as cakes, pastries and biscuits, which contain trans-fatty acids. These not only pile on the pounds, but are implicated in a slew of serious mental disorders, from dyslexia and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to autism. Hard evidence for this is still thin on the ground, but last year researchers at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego, California, reported that rats and mice raised on the rodent equivalent of junk food struggled to find their way around a maze, and took longer to remember solutions to problems they had already solved.

It seems that some of the damage may be mediated through triglyceride, a cholesterol-like substance found at high levels in rodents fed on trans-fats. When the researchers gave these rats a drug to bring triglyceride levels down again, the animals’ performance on the memory tasks improved.

Brains are around 60 per cent fat, so if trans-fats clog up the system, what should you eat to keep it well oiled? Evidence is mounting in favour of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. In other words, your granny was right: fish is the best brain food. Not only will it feed and lubricate a developing brain, DHA also seems to help stave off dementia. Studies published last year reveal that older mice from a strain genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s had 70 per cent less of the amyloid plaques associated with the disease when fed on a high-DHA diet.

Finally, you could do worse than finish off your evening meal with strawberries and blueberries. Rats fed on these fruits have shown improved coordination, concentration and short-term memory. And even if they don’t work such wonders in people, they still taste fantastic. So what have you got to lose?


Bouncing Ball Game

The point of this Bouncing Ball Game is to see how many times you can get a ball to bounce without falling in a hole. Easy to understand, difficult to accomplish. Exercises your depth perception and how quick you are with eye/hand coordination.



Your Central Nervous System: Your Biological Key to Productivity

Now that warm weather is officially upon us (well, at least for those of us in this hemisphere), it’s easy to find any excuse to get lazy.

However, if you feel you need to fight that urge and be productive anyway, (including doing your art or music or writing), here are some very easy-to-do right-this-minute steps, (like sitting up straight)!

Open Loops: Your Central Nervous System: Your Biological Key to Productivity


7 Ways to Increase Engagement – Jason Womack

This is written by Jason Womack and is from his blog, In The Life. He works on “effective productivity practices” and this list is too good to pass up.

7 ways to increase engagement

I was in a workshop last week and during one of the activities, I started a list. The prompt:

What can I do when I’m unenthused, uninspired and (gasp!) bored to re-engage and get going?
I came with some of the things I have used in the past and realized getting going is really only as far away as a thought followed by an action.
Here are seven things to do (and any one will get me started) to kick into gear:

1) Walk around the block (or around the building) three times.
2) Call a mentor and ask an off-the-wall question.
3) Open a search engine and type two of your old hobbies separated by: and. ( _______ and _______)
4) Subscribe to a magazine on the fringe of your interests.
5) Read the second to the last chapter of a business book best-steller.
6) Make a list of 7 people you would like to meet.
7) Shop for two postcards of your town/city, and send them to an out-of-state friend.

My thanks to Douglas E. Welch, who also has an excellent blog called
My Word, for alerting me to this one.


Everything Bad Is Good For You

When I first heard about this book by Steven Johnson, I felt much better about playing video games and watching television. Certain games allow us to fantasize and daydream … others require holding on to a variety of details, in the same way as a game of chess. Of course, I appreciate the title of the book, which suggests that previous generations have deemed these activities as a waste of time, i.e., ‘bad’ for us.

By everything bad Johnson means video games and today’s TV, which supposedly stupefy and corrupt their users with repetition and violence. But set aside characters, settings, and other representational content, Johnson says, and consider procedural-systemic content. The games require discovering and employing their rules in increasingly complex situations; new TV, including reality TV, requires construing and remembering relationships among many characters and interpreting developments inferentially from what is learned.

Such games and shows teach users how to find “order and meaning in the world” and make “decisions that help create that order.” Later Johnson points out that, despite contemporary Cassandras screaming that pop culture and its consumers just get dumber and dumber, average IQ has risen at the same time that games and TV have become increasingly complex. The violent crime rate, the demographic for which overlaps heavily with that for video-game playing, has plummeted, too. Exemplifying from such hits as Sims, Grand Theft Auto, Seinfeld, Survivor, and 24; never disparaging high culture, especially literature; and writing with maximum clarity, Johnson broadcasts good news, indeed.
Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association


The Creative Class – Richard Florida

By now, many of you have either heard Richard Florida discuss his compelling books (or you’ve seen them in the store/library). I heard him again on the radio recently, and was reminded how impressed I was with the work he’s done:

The Rise of the Creative Class and How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life
Florida, an academic whose field is regional economic development, explains the rise of a new social class that he labels the creative class. Members include scientists, engineers, architects, educators, writers, artists, and entertainers. He defines this class as those whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content. In general this group shares common characteristics, such as creativity, individuality, diversity, and merit. The author estimates that this group has 38 million members, constitutes more than 30 percent of the U.S. workforce, and profoundly influences work and lifestyle issues. The purpose of this book is to examine how and why we value creativity more highly than ever and cultivate it more intensely. He concludes that it is time for the creative class to grow up–boomers and Xers, liberals and conservatives, urbanites and suburbanites–and evolve from an amorphous group of self-directed while high-achieving individuals into a responsible, more cohesive group interested in the common good. Mary Whaley, Copyright © American Library Association.

And now he’s got a new book:
The Flight of the Creative Class – The New Global Competition for Talent

Following up on The Rise of the Creative Class (2002), Florida argues that if America continues to make it harder for some of the world’s most talented students and workers to come here, they’ll go to other countries eager to tap into their creative capabilities…

Hopefully, the CEOs of America’s corporations are paying attention 🙂


7 Things That Could Be Sapping Your Creativity Right Now!

This article is by Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach.

This was a very easy article to write. I was late in getting started this month, and as my publication deadline got closer and I could no longer wait until I “felt” like writing an article, I was forced to sit down and do it. In doing it, I thought about the last month (when I meant to be getting started on this as well as other creative projects), and I identified seven things that have gotten in the way of my creativity. Maybe you’ll see yourself in some of these.

1. Not getting enough sleep — I noticed this one the most when I DID finally get a good, long sleep (the night before writing this, actually). All of a sudden my muse was speaking to me again (see below for more on that), the day looked positive and full of promise and I was open to the ideas that are always flowing around me. And I just plain felt good! Sleep is something I write and speak a lot about, and it’s still a practice I need to consciously keep up so I don’t slip back into bad habits.

2. Trying to do it alone — Bouncing ideas off someone else is invaluable to me. When I stop before I start (see below), and I don’t consult or collaborate with others, I miss out on the collective voices that are available to me. Just hearing my own telling of an idea — reading it aloud or describing it — can be enough. Any feedback or new ideas is a bonus. If the idea is really fresh and precious, I may ask the listener not to give feedback, and let them know I just need a sounding board at this point.

3. Stopping before I start — Not carrying out my creative projects because of self-doubt, real or imagined obstacles, perfectionism or generalized fear. When it came to writing today’s article, I had to “Just Start”.

4. Poverty mentality — It’s very constricting to be worried about money all the time. I’m doing a lot of reading and learning about this topic right now — I’m sure I’ll be able to share more in future issues.

5. A cluttered work/living space — It’s been over two years since I finished my first major de-cluttering and it’s time for another one! Exciting! While my living space has stayed tidy, some clutter (things I don’t need, use or love) has crept back in and is starting to gnaw at me.

6. Disconnection from my inner wisdom — When I’m rested and feeling well, I can much more easily tap into the ideas that are flowing around me. Whether it’s being open to something useful in an article I’m reading, or just listening for the solution of that problem I’ve been struggling with for a few days (and really, it just “came to me”), the answers are there.

7. Disconnection from my body — If I’d been paying closer attention to my body’s needs, I think I would have arranged sooner for some nights of extra sleep. I need to listen to the messages my body is sending me — do I feel nourished by the food I’m eating (or am I getting hungry too often), am I hydrated (or do I feel thirsty or light-headed, or is my skin extra-dry)? Am I showing physical signs of stress — muscle tightness, shallow breathing or headaches? My body will reward me if I listen to it, use common sense and give it what it wants.

If you saw yourself in some of these examples, take heart. Awareness is the most important step for change to take place. To look in more detail at your self-care habits, take the free quiz on the “Resources” page of my website.

© Copyright 2005, Genuine Coaching Services.

About the Author …
Linda Dessau, the Self-Care Coach, helps artists enhance their creativity by addressing their unique self-care issues. To receive her free monthly newsletter, Everyday Artist, subscribe at


The Benefits of Restlessness and Jagged Edges

When you were a kid, did you ever have your mom or dad or a teacher turn to you, just as you were REALLY ENJOYING something, and tell you, “Settle down, you’re getting TOO excited!” Well, I did, and I believed for years, that expressing my PASSION about something (usually music) was wrong, or harmful in some way. Granted, we all need to learn “correct” social behavior, but I’m talking about something deeper …

So, this morning, when I heard a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Kay Redfield Jamison, on National Public Radio, begin with these words, she really caught my ear:

“I believe that curiosity, wonder and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers …”

I was reminded of the old myth: artists have to be crazy to be creative.

Gratefully, I haven’t suffered from manic-depression (or bi-polar disorder) as Jamison confesses she has, but I do know what it is to have mood swings and to work with creative people who experience them pretty regularly. It’s a relief to find this resource. Click on this link to read more…

NPR : The Benefits of Restlessness and Jagged Edges


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