Article by Dr. Amantha Imber

There is a myth that creative geniuses are born, not made – but the idea that you can only be creative if you were born that way is false. Hundreds of studies have demonstrated that creativity is a skill you can build up – and very easily. Indeed, research has shown that only 30 percent of creativity is genetically predetermined. The remaining 70 percent is up to you.

In my first book, The Creativity Formula, I described 50 scientifically proven ways to boost your creative performance. Here are six you have probably never heard of:

1. Crank Up the Volume

Although silence is great for many different types of work, when it comes to innovation, research suggests you should turn up the volume. Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that 70 decibels (the sound level of a busy café or city street) is the optimal noise level for creativity. It leads to a greater amount of distraction compared to lower noise levels, and some distraction is important for creativity.

2. Look for the Odd One Out

Enhancing your ability to create new and original solutions to problems can be as simple as staring at an image for a couple of minutes — as long as that image represents the concept of “being different.” One study compared the ideas generated by people looking at a poster depicting an “odd one out” image to the ideas generated by people looking at an image representing conformity. The “odd one out” viewers came up with significantly more ideas. In addition, their ideas were judged to be 25 percent more creative.

3. Clench Your Left Hand

Psychology professor Nicola Baumann set up an experiment where one group of people had to squeeze a ball with their left hand while the other group had to squeeze a ball with their right. It was found that this simple act of squeezing one’s left hand activated a brain circuit associated with thinking holistically and intuitively, and thus more creatively. So the next time you have a creative problem to solve, squeeze your left hand into a fist for optimum results.

skate4. Get Sweaty

Participating in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise has been found to enhance your ability to think creatively – and that increased creative ability can last for up to two hours post-exercise.

5. Raise Your Eyebrows

Researchers at the University of Maryland theorized that facial expressions associated with widening and narrowing our visual perception affected creativity. They thought that broadening your visual field, such as by raising your eyebrows, could improve performance on a creative-thinking task. Likewise, they hypothesized that furrowing your brows, which narrows your attention field, would have the opposite effect. Participants in the study were asked to hold one of these expressions for two minutes while completing a creative-thinking task. The raised-eyebrow group generated significantly more original ideas and a greater quantity of ideas than the furrowed-brow group did.

6. Sleep on It

Ultimately, the success of creative thought rests on making good decisions. Research suggests that we make far better decisions in the morning, when we have strong cognitive resources available to us. These resources deteriorate throughout the day with each decision we make. So the earlier in the day you make decisions, the better those decisions will be.

Whether you see yourself as a highly creative thinker or someone who doesn’t have a creative bone in your body, try incorporating some of these simple changes into your life to turbocharge your creative thought.

A version of this article originally appeared on

Dr. Amantha Imber is founder of the innovation consultancy Inventium. Her latest book, The Innovation Formula, tackles the topic of how organizations can create cultures where innovation thrives.

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