Unleash your creativity.

Why good ideas are lurking out there just outside your comfort zone.

It is often claimed that it takes certain innate talents or a moment of inspiration to be creative – and this kind of preconception tends to be prevalent. In fact, however, what we perceive to be creativity is usually the result of just one thing: good honest hard work. In the following, we’ll explain how you can unlock your own creative potential with the help of practical exercises and by adopting the right mindset.

Does it come down to a person’s genes, their talent or are they simply lucky? While it is true that you can be genetically predisposed to be creative, in the main it all depends on your frame of mind.

According to psychologists, our "openness to experience" plays a key role. Open-minded individuals tend to be more inquisitive as they go through life, they have a fertile imagination and are willing to question the conventional; this is the very best way to start if you want to generate creative ideas.

So, creativity is spontaneous?

Maybe, but this does not mean creativity cannot be learned. Quite the opposite – you don’t need to have a natural gift for it. Gourmet chefs, for example, are not born with their skills; similarly, people are not usually overflowing with creative ideas at the drop of a hat. As we know, practice makes perfect: many a stroke of genius is only rarely attributable to a sudden and unexpected brainwave, instead it is frequently the result of plenty of effort and a lot of groundwork. This may all sound rather demanding but at the same time it does mean that creativity is not simply the preserve of those with an artistic bent. Many still associate the concept of creativity with the ability to produce a work of art, write a bestseller or come up with a lyric that proves popular, but artistic talent in this form is just one facet of creativity. In essence, what is required is the capacity to take issue with customary ways of thinking and, as a result, create new and original ideas.

Take the advice that the King of Hearts gives Alice in Wonderland and "Begin at the beginning...".

Perhaps the easiest way to become creative is just to start being creative. You won’t find inspiration by being passive, so stop waiting, start doing! It might help if you set yourself fixed time slots in which to undertake creative projects. If you want to start the day with a creative boost, then a practice known as "Morning Pages" can prove particularly useful. Just allow your stream of consciousness free rein and write down on three sides of paper everything that comes into your mind – there are no rules and no need to be inventive. By putting it all down on paper you engage more thoroughly with your thoughts so that new concepts may emerge from this. Another way to stimulate your flow of ideas is to put together a list of 100 items. For this, you simply need a blank sheet of paper, something to write with, sufficient time, an open-minded attitude and, of course, a specific question, such as: "How can I be more creative?". Now, it might seem difficult at first to think of 100 items and many of those you write down will simply be pointless, but that does not matter. The aim is to get yourself in a creative frame of mind and, if you are lucky, you’ll stumble upon that one, brilliant idea.

Make room for creativity.

Create space for creativity – that’s not just meant in the metaphorical sense but also quite literally. So why not set up a creative space in your home? This could be a particular room or simply a creativity corner if you’re short of space. You could add vision boards and mementos, and give it a coat of paint in a colour you find upbeat - the design is entirely up to you. What is crucial is that you construct an environment for yourself that you find congenial and inspirational. In any case, your brain should then be preconditioned to being creative whenever you spend time there.

Let your mind wander.

You need to establish a creative space not just in your home but also within your own head. Changing the world around you overnight may not always be feasible, but there’s every reason to remain receptive to all the possibilities. You’ll find that new ideas come to you best when you do not feel pressurised and there is nothing to distract you. While it might require a great deal of effort and practice to be creative, it is therefore just as important to take breaks. Your creativity will flourish when you are not concentrating on a particularly complex task. It is not down to coincidence that good ideas come to us at times we wouldn’t expect them or when we find ourselves in particular surroundings, such as when we are taking a shower or going for a walk outdoors.

If you never try, you’ll never know.

Once an idea comes to you, you have to allow it to mature. To progress, it is advisable to ditch any aspiration to perfection. An idea doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to feel right. If you begin to have doubts then act contrary to the general rule and leave whatever it is on one side for a bit rather than forging ahead and completing it. Looking at it from a different point of view or getting someone else’s opinion can often make all the difference. In any case, it is well worth sticking at it because if you never try, you’ll never know.

Leave your (creativity) comfort zone.

Creativity thrives on change, not on the habitual. Routines do help us find our way through a complex world but innovation and opportunities are all too often located outside what we consider our comfort zone. In concrete terms, this can mean that if you get bogged down with a task, the way forward can usually be to take a different approach.

Did you know researchers have actually determined that we can be more creative when we are tired? Why is this? Creative activities, in contrast with analytical endeavours, do not necessarily require our full attention - in fact, they benefit from a relaxed mindset. Hence, if you are a night owl you need to rise and shine, while if you are a morning person you should start brainstorming at a late hour.

Swim against the mainstream.

At the same time, you should never lose sight of your own personality. It is vital, of course, to keep an eye on your environment and current trends because these are also a source of inspiration. Your creativity cannot blossom if you only do as you are told or follow the current fashions. Those who are innovative are bold enough and willing enough to take the risk of departing from conventional paths when it comes to what they do and think. In brief, to be creative, you need to break free of the mainstream.

Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" way of doing this. You need to leave passivity and your usual routine behind you and develop the necessary staying power. This is, admittedly, more difficult than simply waiting for that bright idea to come to you but is essential if you want to move forward. Anyone who takes a creative approach to a task will find that they not only reach their goal. With an open mindset, it is possible to recognise new opportunities that others have overlooked.

Although taking a breather and enjoying a cup of tea may not be the magic solution to the problem of how to be creative, drinking tea when you are taking a well-earned rest can provide you with mental refreshment and an energy boost during creative phases. Here are our five tea recommendations for creative minds and those who aspire to be so:

STRONG ASSAM: This is the strongest tea of the whole Avoury range; it can act as a stimulant to wake you up in the morning or gives you that necessary caffeine kick at times when the ideas refuse to come to you.

MINT GUNPOWDER: This combination of strong green tea and the fresh sweetness of spearmint won’t simply light up your taste buds but also that light bulb above your head.

LIGHT PASSION: This mild white tea is the ideal drink when you are pausing for thought and relaxing - you’ll be surprised by the tropical hint of the taste of passion fruit.

FRESH ELDERFLOWER: The light and fruity flavour of elderflower and lemon will make you think of summer and put you in a good mood - something that is also known to promote creativity.

MORINGA MANGO: Fresh, fruity and full of nutrients - this infusion of exotic ingredients is the perfect refreshment after an intensive brainstorming session.

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