How to encourage creative insights and powerful revelations

Highly creative people often experience numerous creative insights and powerful revelations. This post offers some new ideas on how to encourage these creative capabilities.


Below I have outlined 5 mind-bending activities of highly creative people. I truly hope that this post will not only be able to serve as creative inspiration but as something practical that you’ll be able to integrate into your creative process.


1. Engage in stimulating conversations

In a recent post titled 5 Personal Development Activities of Highly Successful People, I talked about the value of cultivating deeper conversations. But in this post, I want to look at these kinds of conversations from a creative perspective and highlight their stimulating properties.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a distinguished psychologist who wrote the book Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention, talks about how creative people have complex personalities and are both extroverted and introverted at the same time. They often need a lot of time alone to create and process their thinking, but they also need the stimulation that comes from talking and being around other people.

Stimulation from conversations is vital for the creative process and important to the creative person. It helps creative people to get different perspectives from their peers, to learn what’s happening in their field, to expose themselves to new ideas, and to engage in the give and take of exchanging ideas.

How this plays out for each creative individual will vary, but they usually have some type of cycle between alone time and time spent in having stimulating conversations. I know from my own experience that I require a deep amount of alone time to write, create, and rest. But I always find it necessary to have long conversations (at least an hour long) with my closest friends to reenergize the creative process before I go back to creating some more.

I don’t view these conversations as taking a break, rather I view them as a necessary element of the creative life. Constantly engaging in stimulating conversations is an important component to discovery.


2. Journaling and note taking

In order to generate a flood of ideas, you can start by journaling. The reason why journaling is so powerful is because once you start writing you can continue to come up with new ideas because your mind will naturally form associations and implications related to what you’ve already written. So the trick is not to think about what you want to write next but just to start and let your mind free to keep on going.

With journaling, you might want to choose a broad objective, but it’s not essential. You might have a particular problem that you want to solve or you might just want to journal about your experience or whatever you can imagine at the time.

The purpose is to spew out ideas without judging them. You may want to use them later or you may not, it doesn’t matter. Journaling can be a great way to discover yourself, clarify your thinking, shoot out insightful ideas, document something, or just a way to freely exercise your imagination.

In this sense, journaling is an intentional activity that creative people can use to get their creativity going. Then you can go back and pick out the creative gems, but in my experience, the real creative insights hit you as you are in the flow of writing. It’s almost like there is a rhythmic beauty to the unfolding of creative and revelatory experiences. There is something about engaging in the rhythm of writing and thinking that fosters the mental state necessary for the creation of new ideas.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”. And in a sense writing and speaking out your ideas is kind of like walking through your mind. It’s got this kind of walking rhythm to it. So it’s not surprising that walking aids the thinking and creative process. We could speculate that the mind is like this because it evolved out of a body whose primary function was to walk. But who really knows? I certainly don’t.

The point is that journaling is like walking through your mind and finding all the beautiful creatures along the way.

Note taking is similar and may turn into journaling if you continue to write beyond your initial notes. Note taking is not a task you proactively do but rather it is something you choose to deploy after an idea arises in your mind so that you can capture the random bouts of creative insight and revelation throughout your day.

So as soon as you have an idea you capture it in its raw form by writing it down, making a note on your phone, recording your voice, or using any other accessible form of record keeping.

The purpose of note taking is so you don’t forget the intrinsic value of the raw idea. There is something about the rawness of an idea when it first hits you. It almost feels like it is latent with emotional understanding and that it carries such a rich and specific perception that lays around the idea itself.

It’s like the difference between the letter and the spirit of an idea. You want to capture not just the strictness of the idea, but you want to capture the very essence of an idea because therein lays the true potential of an idea and its applicability to many situations.

I also think the reason why these revelatory ideas embody so much potential for their use is because they describe a pattern that spans across a broad range of phenomena. More on this in future posts.

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3. Traveling and exploring

A common trait of creative people is that they are open to experiences. For this reason, creative people are less conservative when it comes to travel and exploring the world. They want to try new things and aren’t afraid to experience different cultures. They are curious to learn and gain insights from the different people and places they see along the way.

They don’t have to be traveling to different countries all the time, but no matter their situation in life, they are open to exploring what is around them and they actively seek novel experiences.

Novelty seeking is a powerful human drive that encourages creative insights. Just think about the last time you encountered someone from a different culture or the last time you were in a location you don’t usually visit. There were probably things you naturally noticed that stood out to you as different from your everyday experience. The question you should ask yourself is why did those differences stand out to you?

It’s the power of the human mind that automatically points out novelty, and it’s the power of the creative mind that then actively explores and seeks to understand these novel opportunities. While most people are more comfortable eating the food they know, living in the same town, or working in the same industry, creative people flourish when they are able to explore and assimilate what they have explored into their creative understanding.

So if you really want to bend your mind and get a different perspective on things then go exploring. What you find might just change the way you see the world and the way that you see yourself.


4. Learning and discovering

Creative people get inspiration from learning because it triggers insight into future possibilities. When a highly creative person learns they not only learn what is taught directly to them, but they then get inspired by all the possibilities in where they could apply what they’ve learned. They are not just learning for the sake of learning they are learning so they can create.

A lot of the time I will ask people a lot of questions because I really want to get to know them. I don’t just want to get to know them because I care about them, although I do care about the people I talk to, but I want to get to know them so I can gain an insight and an understanding that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

If I keep asking questions to a person and they are happy to divulge useful information, even if it’s specific to them, I’ll be able to gain a piece of understanding that I can then reflect on and apply to many other situations. I’ll be able to use this insight I’ve gained as a kind of tool to find new ideas or construct an alternative understanding of the world.

But you don’t have to necessarily be talking to other people to learn or discover something new. You can read, experiment, or spend time thinking through what you are currently learning in your life.

Out of all the activities on this list, actively learning is probably the most mind-bending activity of highly creative people. That is because they are able to learn new things that “bend their mind”, and then they are able to add those new insights to their creative repertoire, and apply them throughout their creative pursuits.

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5. Bodily experiences

I’m not really sure that bodily experiences can be described as an activity, but you can certainly do a range of activities that will induce bodily experiences. The reason why I’m mentioning bodily experiences in this list is because your bodily experiences have such a powerful impact on your mind. Especially the first time you experience something.

Now when I say bodily experiences, I am not singling out drugs, sex, and pulling out your nipple hairs. I am talking about any kind of bodily experience and the understanding or insights you gain from experiencing them.

For example, I hurt my legs over a year ago and they still remain damaged and I am unable to run for long periods of time, yet. They are recovering, but the point is that I have an embodied experience of what it is like to have this type of pain. I am able to then emotionally reflect on it and understand how other people who experience pain may be impacted in their lives. I now have a greater emotional awareness and sensitivity to other people because of this.

Another example might be the first time you kissed someone. There was something magical about how it all felt. Your warm tongue, and another person’s warm tongue, who would have thought it’d feel like that? But once you get use to the experience the law of diminishing returns kicks in and kissing isn’t as novel anymore. But you are left with the human experience of what kissing felt like, and it can inform your creative pursuits. Maybe you want to write a love novel and kissing 10 different people has given you the bodily experience necessary to describe the character interactions in your novel so intricately that it becomes a best-seller.

Now I am not saying that going out and hooking up with 10 people is going to turn you into a best-selling author. But I am saying that bodily experiences can lead to tremendous insights and revelations about the human condition. And it’s the human condition that all great art and philosophy comes out of.

Question: Are there any other activities that get your creative juices flowing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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