If you’re like me and always seeking to hack your creativity, you are willing to consider anything reasonable.
What if there is something right outside your door?
Well there is!
Try a step into nature. A park or a garden will do just fine when you can’t get out in the deep wilderness.
Nature has been shown through studies to boost creativity and it does so in a number of ways.
Take a long hike
A study of backpackers found that those who were out in the woods the longest saw a great increase in their creativity. These hikers left their phones behind, so they got to really experience nature with their full attention.
The benefits of Nature on Creativity
Studies show that nature makes us feel more connected, and connection is a big part of creativity. It turns out that going outside requires skills similar to innovative thinking: taking risks, facing challenges, being open minded to new solutions. Outside the challenges are often physical, but they train our minds to look for solutions to the challenges and work with the resources that are on hand. So consider that hike or paddle on the lake is helping you connect to nature and to your own creativity.
Understanding nature itself is very helpful too. We learn and observe that all life is connected including us. The trees, the birds, the insects, the soil and bacteria. They are part of an intricate system and appreciating these connections trains us to make connections ourselves.
The closer you look, the more you see. Nature abounds with all sorts of interesting stuff to notice. If you take a moment to look at an old tree stump covered in moss, you will be amazed at all the colors, textures, small plants you can find.
New thinking needs us to change how we see things. Nature is a great place to train our skills at this. Approach nature with an open mind, ready to see what is there. Allow yourself to feel wonder, awe, curiosity and discovery. All of these feelings boost creative thought.
Nature is a great place to practice imagination skills. I don’t mean imagining cats with big teeth coming out of the bushes! Unless you really want to feel fear. Otherwise, it’s a great place to imagine and dream of new possibilities, pretend worlds, new modes of travel, anything you like. Just think of all the great novels that are imaginative trips into the natural world. Jules Vernes books are great examples.
The sky is an experiential metaphor for our own limitless potential both in what we can do and what we can imagine. Consider this poem by Emily Dickinson:
THE BRAIN is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.
The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.
The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.
Grab some stones and leaves and twigs. Create sculptures and models and mandalas. Mini artworks of temporary materials. It’s a great place to practice making it up as you go with the materials that are available. This creative play time relaxes you and allows you to work with your hands. There is no stress or pressure to perform and this is perfect for playfun, creative expression.
The pace of nature is on an entirely different scale than urban life. Our brains like it. It gives time to daydream, to be slightly bored, to allow our minds to think of novel things to fill the time.
Perhaps it’s conversation or collecting rocks or just observing some birds. It allows our minds time to make connections without stress. This makes us feel good, and when we feel good, we have greater access to creativity and other emotions that allow us to grow, imagine and become.
A butterfly, a flower, a sunset.. These all are powerful sources of inspiration if we are mindful of them. They can lead us artistic expressions of what we see through art or writing. They can also inspire us in our other modes of creativity, such as marketing, product design or code writing. It all depends on how you use what you see. It leads us back to connection. All the new experiences that nature offers can be connected to what we already know ins some way and become sources of new ideas.
Great art inspires us. It uplifts and encourages our own great acts of creation. Nature is the greatest artist. Every color combination is perfect and amazing if we take a moment to appreciate it. Allow it to be a source of your inspiration too.
A step away
You know the classic story about how you step into the shower and an idea hits from the blue. Well, a walk in the park offers the same chance to shift your focus from the problems at hand and allow your subconscious to deliver a message.
Walking time isn’t wasted. Your mind is busy at work even as you give yourself time to enjoy.
Nature also loads tons of feel good benefits which boost our ability to be creative as well. These include
- stress reduction
- memory boosts
- increased energy
- improving physical well-being
- promoting healing
Nature really is a great resource for the creative mind. The connection we feel to it and one another is one of the greatest direct benefits. Take advantage of the opportunity to shift your thinking and grow your creativity while getting other great health benefits.