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10 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

10 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently



Have you ever wondered why your mind wonders about the most bizarre things in the late night hours right before you fall asleep? Or how the kid in your class came up with his unique project idea?

Often times, we find ourselves conforming to ideas we learn through school, without giving much thought to things outside of what we study. It’s difficult when you are bombarded with textbooks and homework and have little time to read books for yourself, or to relax in your own thoughts. In a way, the standard education system can suppress our creativity. But it doesn’t mean that we cannot change the way we think creatively.

Creativity is more than intelligence. In fact, it is its own cognitive ability typically independent of those complex abilities that are often grouped underneath the word “intelligence.” Sure, some creative thoughts can stem from what we learn in structured classes, but most creative thought happens outside of the classroom, through our own personal experiences.

Below are ten things that highly creative people do differently, according to a lecture by a brilliant professor here at UT Austin. These ten things are very simple, and perhaps they will even spark your creativity.


  1. Imaginative play.

Remember when you were a kid and you would play “house” or pretend that the floor was lava as you jumped around the furniture? As you grow older, your imagination becomes less playful. Sure, you still imagine things-like how cool it would be to live in a mansion, or what it’s like to be famous-but it’s harder to hold onto that childlike playfulness and spirit of imagination. Adults need more support to dream and play. We often tend to take life too seriously as we grow older, but cultivating a childlike sense of play can revolutionize the way that we work. Just look at Google. Combining both serious, linear, difficult effort with creative work and child’s play brings the best combination.

2. Passion

As Steve Jobs once said, “Igniting passion is the only way to do great work.” Growing up, everyone told you to follow your dreams, or find something that you’re passionate about. Now, you’re more pressed to be able to financially support yourself, so that passion you may have had as a child may have died. But whether your passion is helping people, fitness, painting, or science, math, or business, there are several ways to keep your passion alive throughout your college experience. You can get involved with campus organizations or find time in your jam-packed schedule to relax and do a little bit of what you love. Hard working people are often passionate, but passionate people are hard working.  

3. Daydream

The one thing you were told to not do when you were little, you are encouraged to do now. Or, at least every once in awhile. Allowing your mind to wander offers creative incubation, self-awareness and self-reflection, as well as compassion. It’s nice to disconnect from the world and technology, even if only for a few minutes. Daydreaming is like connecting to your inner monologue, and it can be as simple as taking a walk, or thinking when you’re in the shower.

4. Solitude.

This generation sucks at solitude. We tend to have this constant need to always be with someone, or doing something with others so as to not feel alone. Often times we pity or feel sorry for those who are alone, but there is a thin line between loneliness and solitude. Our culture has come to overemphasize the importance of constant social interaction, devaluing and misunderstanding aloneness as a result. The act of creating requires solitary, inwardly-focused reflection. Our most creative ideas come to us when we least expect them, and as you become more and more busy with life, you start to realize the value in the few moments that you get to be alone.

5. Intuition.

“Nonconscious processes may be faster and structurally more sophisticated than our conscious thinking systems,” says David Eagleman, author of the genius book, Incognito. Our intuition is the unconscious nudge that propels us forward. Creative people listen to their gut feelings, their inner knowledge. It’s what drives their ideas to reality, and what brings them to their success. Sometimes, we go against our intuition, but more often than not, that first gut feeling is the right one.

6. Openness to experiences.

To think differently is to disrupt the familiar, and that’s what triggers new thought. Being open to trying new things gives you new ideas and shines light on older ones. There are three kinds of experiential engagement: intellectual (books, intellectual conversations), affective (using gut feelings, emotional), and aesthetic (music, art, fantasy, sensory). So, next time your friends want to go to a new restaurant in town, or visit a new place, rather than settle for the familiar hangout spot, try something new and see what you can get out of it.

7. Mindfulness.

Your body is living in the present. Is your mind? Allowing yourself to focus and live in the moment and being mindful of what is going on around you opens up more opportunity for creative thoughts to flow.

8. Sensitivity.

Being sensitive is typically viewed as a negative trait to have, but not when it comes to creativity. In fact, being sensitive means there’s more to observe, opens your pores, and allows you to see a more colorful world. You view the world a little more intensely than others do, and are able to pick up on the little things. This is an important contribution to helping you find those little ideas that boost your creative thoughts.

9. Turn adversity into advantage.

Hardships are inevitable, but the ways in which we choose to react towards these hardships are often what define our character. Creative people turn these difficult moments into their advantage. Einstein wouldn’t be the Einstein we talk so much about today had he not pushed himself through his many failures. Starbucks would not exist had Howard Schultz given up after having his idea turned down more than a hundred times. These hardships become the moments that force us to reexamine our beliefs and check in with our thoughts.

10. Think differently.

This last one seems like an obvious slap in the face, but it can be one of the most difficult things to do. We must be united by the unwillingness to abide by conventional thought. Thinking differently means sharing non-traditional ideas, going against the crowd. Often, as children, we are punished to stick out, and instead told to follow the rules. But the creative geniuses were not creative inside of the box. Creativity is not contained inside the walls of a classroom. It is within yourself.


    There are several different ways to rekindle our childhood imagination and stir up creative ideas. Sometimes, we do them unconsciously. Ideas cannot be forced-they come naturally. But you can find ways to reveal them by practicing simple daily activities such as these. Look at companies like Google and Facebook, read books outside of the classroom, and find the time in the day to spend on yourself. You never know what can come out of a five minute nature walk, or some alone time in a coffee shop.


Image via https://xinageco.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/creativity.jpg

North East School of the Arts Creative Writing major grad currently attending THE University of Texas at Austin majoring in corporate communication! In addition to writing, I love to run, read, eat, shop, and be with friends.
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