Too tired in the morning to think positive and be creative? Think again!
Posted in , Feb 10, 2012
"Why Morning Routines Are Creativity Killers." When I saw that headline over at Time.com last week, I clicked on it right away. I don’t feel like I get my best ideas in the morning. I’ve always chalked it up to being a night owl who has never completely adjusted to a 9 to 5 world, and I was hoping the article would give me some clues on how to kick-start my creativity—not to mention my positivity—in the morning.
Turns out it isn’t my unfocused state in the a.m. that dampens my creativity, it’s that I don’t take advantage of it, according to the article’s author, Annie Murphy Paul, who writes a regular column on the science of learning. She cites a recent study that showed that people actually do best at solving insight problems—those that require an imaginative leap, an aha! moment—at the time of day when they’re the least alert.
Why? Because that’s when our minds are more relaxed and receptive. We’re less likely to push aside seemingly distracting thoughts and more likely to make fresh, even inspired connections between ideas. Rather than rushing through your morning routine, Murphy Paul recommends lingering a little longer in bed and in the shower—let your thoughts wander and see where your imagination leads you.
That’s probably not feasible if you have kids (or like me, a hungry dog) clamoring for your attention as soon as you wake up. Don’t worry, Murphy Paul has another creativity-boosting suggestion: Instead of scanning the news when you get to work, watch a happy video.
There’s a study that backs this up too. Cognitive psychologists at the University of Western Ontario found that people who watched a video that made them happy (like the famous laughing baby YouTube clip) were able to think more creatively than people who watched a video that made them sad (like a news clip about an earthquake). Or as the researchers put it, “positive mood increases cognitive flexibility.” (Next time your boss catches you watching funny videos, tell her you’re priming your brain for creative problem-solving.)
Looking for more ways to cultivate your creativity? Read our piece on 10 simple ways you can spark your imagination and inspire yourself every day.
And just in case you need a little help thinking positively and creatively come Monday morning, here’s a video guaranteed to put you in a good mood.