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5 Creativity Exercises to increase your imagination, intuitiveness, and problem-solving skills

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

– all you need is paper and pencil -

Activating your creativity means exercising the right side of your brain.

1. Doodle, scribble, or make swirly letters

Do this whenever you have a paper and pen in hand. Allow your creativity to adorn your to-do lists, discarded envelopes, and napkins. Get in the habit of having fun by putting creative fun into the world.

Doodles don’t come easily?

Simply sign your name every which way.

Try to sign it backward?

Or upside down? Or backward and upside down?

Practice challenging your creative mind until you can master all three.

2. Need a little humor to your day?

Have a bilateral conversation.

For this exercise, take a pencil in your right hand (even if you're left-handed) and write the question: "How's it going?"

Then switch to your left hand; and write whatever pops up.

Your non-dominant hand's writing will be shaky—that's okay. The important thing isn't tidiness; it's noticing that your two hemispheres have different personalities. The right side of the brain, which controls the left hand, will say things you don't know that you know. It specializes in assessing your physical and mental feelings, and it often offers solutions. "Take a nap," your right hemisphere might say, or "Just do what feels right; we'll be fine."

You'll find there's a little Zen master in that left hand of yours (not surprisingly, left-handed people are disproportionately represented in creative professions).

3. Gratitude List

Gratitude helps improve neuronal firing and improves Neural Growth Factor (NGF) production and our ability to tolerate and adapt to stress.

It also helps to rewire your brain to see things from an optimistic point of view, which reduces stress hormones and improves endorphin production and sensitivity in the brain cells, and the best part, feel-good more often!

Who wouldn’t want that?

Writing a gratitude list can be as quick as a 3-minute daily ritual.

4. Write it outside

Sit in a park, on your front porch, or on a bench outside of work during your lunch break … then journal about all the unique sounds and smells you are experiencing.

The more you can concentrate on NEW sounds and smells, the more well-rounded and developed the brain potentially becomes.

Can’t get outside? Write instead of type.

When you write by hand, you activate more of your brain than you do when you type.

This can help you learn the material and remember to do items more effectively.

5. Observe the shift from left to right brain

One of my favorite books is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards.

Edwards comments the following exercises are specifically designed to help you shift from your dominant left-hemisphere mode to your subdominant right.

What’s important is NOTICING this shift.

You ask, what does the shift ‘feel’ like?

It’s different for everyone.

Some have the feeling of losing track of time or daydreaming. Athletes often call it being in ‘The Zone.’

Exercise One – Vase / Faces Drawing

Draw a profile of a person.

If you are right-handed, draw the silhouette facing inward on the left side of the paper.

If you're left-handed, then draw the profile on the right side of the paper, facing inward.

As you draw, name the features or “symbols”: forehead, eye, nose, mouth, chin, neck.

By doing this you’re engaging the left-side of your brain.

Next, draw a top and bottom line across your silhouette.

Complete the vase by drawing a reversal of the first profile in complete symmetry.

Watch for faint signals from your brain that you’re shifting modes of information.

Discover you’re doing the second profile differently, no longer using “symbols” but responding to angles, curves, and shapes as you scan back and forth between the two silhouettes.

This is the right side of your brain engaged.

Exercise Two - Vases-Faces – Baroque vase and Monster Face

Again, draw a silhouette of a witch, monster, or the oddest face you can portray, naming the features or “symbols” as you draw. Draw a top and bottom line across your silhouette.

Complete the profile in reverse making the baroque vase.

The complexity of the form forces the shift to the right-side mode to see shapes, angles, curves.

The goal of this exercise ISN’T how well you can draw, but rather noticing the shift from left to right side of your brain.

As you begin to recognize when you shift cognitive modes, you’re taking the first step toward learning to control which side of your brain you use.

Exercise Three: Upside-down Drawing

Pick a simple image to copy.

Below is Mickey Mouse by Walt Disney.

Settle into a quiet space and finish your drawing in one sitting.

Look at the image upside down, noticing how the lines, shapes, and angles relate to one another.

Then begin at the top and copy each line, moving from one line to the adjacent, letting your right-side of your brain engage. Avoid “naming” parts or symbols.

Notice the shift from the left to the right side of your brain.

Exercise Four: Contour Drawing

You can use any object to draw, however, you’ll find it easy to use your hand.

Simply hold your pencil in the opposite hand and direct your eyes at your empty hand, seeing only the angles, lines, and curves.

Once you begin drawing your pencil SHOULDN’T leave the paper.

Very slowly move your eyes along the edge of your empty hand, focusing on every bump and bulge along the way. Every nook and cranny.

As your eye travels, move your pencil at the same slow pace.

When you’re finished, think back.

Did you lose track of time?

Maybe get “lost” in the world of imagination?

These are signs of shifting from left to right brain.

These simple exercises will anyone:

  • If you're business-minded and need to brainstorm a new alternative

  • And engineer, accountant, chemist ... wanting a new way to solve a problem

  • A parent wanting to teach their children to see the world in more than one way.

All that's left to do is TRUST your intuition, imagination, and new problem-solving skills - your right-sided brain at work.


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