Tag Archives: creative

Super Hero Consciousness

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Our mind increases in strength and power when we free it from the worry and anxiety that make us stress repeatedly and unnecessarily. I say unnecessarily based on research which found that 85% of what we worry about never happens[1]. Stress fragments the mind and a fragmented mind keeps us in survival mode, where life becomes more about just making it through the day than about excelling and flourishing. We can become stuck in routines, unable to go beyond it to test ourselves and break the psychological limits we’ve been programmed into believing. When we stop thinking primarily about ourselves, our problems and our limits; when we let go of fearing failure and drop the insecurity that says were not good enough, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness that literally stimulates the brain to make a human being powerfully creative [2]. Then we discover, in the words of Bruce Lee, that “there are no limits, only plateaus that we must go beyond.” This is what it means to live a heroic life.

Change but our mind and our world changes accordingly. Our state of mind creates the life we live. The difference we make in the world depends on the way we choose to live our life, and the biggest difference comes from allowing love, joy, purpose and inner peace to be the statement our life makes every day through all our endeavors.

Mother Teresa once said that she used to believe prayer changed things, but found that prayer changes us, and we change things. Essentially, we become the change we want to see in our world, which in turn changes our world, to paraphrase Gandhi.

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This heroic transformation of consciousness begins with taking total responsibility for our life, which is the heroic part. From there it proceeds to becoming crystal clear about what matters most to us. Thomas Merton wrote, “All problems are resolved and everything is made clear simply because what matters is clear.” And neuroscience has established that what matters most in sustaining brain power is a dynamically positive and peaceful mindset [3]. It is a state of mind producing brain states that not only predict greater success, health and happiness; it also produces those transcendental moments when we feel at one with creation.

 

The mental strength gained from a positive and peaceful mindset does not happen by itself; it requires a daily practice that accentuates the positive within us, gradually rewiring our brain to make calm, creative and optimistic our brain’s set point. Achieving a positive mindset is simpler than you might believe and change can happen quickly, within four to eight weeks with a consistent practice.

You can get started right now by viewing the 8-minute video below entitled Accentuate the Positive. This is the second video in a 12-part video miniseries called Radical Peace, which you will find at https://theendofstressbook.com/the-miniseries/

[1] Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D., The Worry Cure, Random House, 2005, pg. 15
[2]John Kounios et al., “The Prepared Mind: Neural Activity Prior to Problem Presentation Predicts Subsequent Solution by Sudden Insight,” Psychological Science 17 (2006): 882–90.
[3] Joyce Shaffer, Ph.D., Neuroplasticity and Positive Psychology in Clinical Practice: A Review for Combined Benefits. Psychology, 3, 1110-1115. 

Is Your Creativity Blocked? Get Unstuck In Just 30 Seconds

What makes a person highly creative?  It has a lot to do with how much two parts of our brain talk to one another.  Researchers have found that when the logical, analytical, linear left hemisphere is in dialogue with the intuitive, imaginative, brainstorming right hemisphere, it predictably produces highly creative, yet practical outcomes.   The greater the cross-talk, the greater the likelihood innovation will follow.

How do we get the two parts of our brain to talk to one another?

A study published in the prestigious journal Brain and Cognition (1) reports on an incredibly simple method researchers tested that appears to do the trick.   In the study, sixty-two subjects performed a task that required creative thought. They were given one-minute to dream up as many alternate uses for everyday objects like newspapers, brinks, paper clips, pencils, and shoes.

After performing the task, researchers asked half of the subjects to move their eyes horizontally right to left for 30 seconds.  The remaining subjects were instructed to stare straight ahead for 30 seconds.  The researchers hypothesized that horizontal eye movement would stimulate cross-talk between the hemispheres.  Why?  Prior research has suggested that people who have one hand that is dominant, so-called “strong-handers”, have less cross-talk between their brain hemispheres compared with people who are ambidextrous or “mixed handed.”

Following the eye exercise, all the subjects performed the creativity exercise again.  The results were astonishing.  Subjects who’d performed the horizontal eye movements showed significant improvement in their creativity.  They were more original and more prolific.  In contrast, subjects who’d stared straight ahead showed no improvement in creativity.    The beneficial effects of the eye movement exercise lasted nine minutes for originality and six minutes for variety.  It’s just enough time to get you unstuck and begin to build a head of steam, if your creativity has been blocked.

I first experimented with the eye exercise to push through writer’s block.  I had a book to write and although I had a vision of it, I couldn’t find a way to get started.  My efforts invariably turned into the proverbial wads of half written pages scattered about the office.   I had stumbled on this study while researching for a paper on creativity but didn’t try it.  It felt far fetched, even though it was based on research.  The pain of writer’s block made me receptive to giving it a try.

I stepped away from my desk, sat in a comfortable chair across from my bookcase and began move my eyes right to left and back again for 30 seconds.  When I was done I came back to my study, sat at my desk and for a few moments stared out the window.  My vision for the book came to mind as before, in its rough, organic and unformed state.  Then a moment later images of a coherent narrative began to spin in my head.  I turned to the computer and began to capture the flow.  An hour later I had written the first chapter of the book.  It was a chapter that not only laid out a clearer sense of the direction the book could take but also the style that would carry it.

The research shows that, if you’re one of the 3% of people who are ambidextrous (mixed-handed), the eye exercise is probably of no benefit.  But if you’re of the 97% who are strong-handed right or left, consider giving the eye exercise a try.    Especially if you creativity is blocked.

(1) Shobe ER, Ross NM, & Fleck JI (2009). Influence of handedness and bilateral eye movements on creativity. Brain and cognition, 71 (3), 204-14 PMID: 19800726