I’ve read a ton of posts with tricks for being a better, smarter, more creative, or generally more successful person. I’m assuming that you have too. But honestly, do these tricks help—not really. They are fun to read and interesting to think about. But very few of us will actually be impacted by them. That’s because tricks don’t change behavior.
A long time ago I read some studies on the best methods for losing weight and getting in better shape. These were studies that dealt with actual results rather than hype. Surprisingly, the best method for being healthier didn’t involve a radical style of exercise, a gimmicky diet, the latest treadmill or some other quick fix. Instead, the research found that if you really want to get into shape, date someone who is already in shape.
It’s true. To change your lifestyle, you really need to change your general way of doing things. By dating someone who is already in shape, you’ll start picking up on their habits and begin incorporating them into your life. The sad part is that they probably will slide into a few of your tendencies. But there is a real lesson here. I have tons or methods for generating ideas and synthesizing concepts. And they do work. Or, you could buy the book “Thinkertoys.” It has hundreds of games and techniques in it. But none of these make you more creative in the long term. To have a more creative career, you have to actually develop a practice of being creative.
Something I’ve found through research and practice is that one of the best ways for gaining a more creative life is to become more curious. It’s much easier for all those other things related to creativity to fall into place for a curious person than a person who isn’t curious. Curiosity works because it compels you to act, to seek out new things. Creativity people are problem finders. And curious people seek out problems. Curiosity comes from a knowledge gap that needs to be filled. Once you know you don’t know something, you will want to figure out what it is that you don’t know. So taking walks, camping, tinkering with stuff, talking to new people – these all lead to heightened curiosity. Curiosity isn’t a drive where the more you get the fuller you get. Instead, the more stimulus you get via curiosity, the more curious you become.
But most of all, hang around others who are curious and creative. That is how you will actually increase your odds of being creative yourself.