How to unleash your creativity with one simple trick
How to unleash your creativity with one simple trick

You’re probably thinking that there’s some incredible secret here. A lot of us believe that creativity is something we left behind when we stopped falling out of treehouses and breaking our arms testing gravity going downhill with no brakes. But creativity is a belief as much as anything. We are all wired to create.

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We Are Designed to Move

Similarly, we are all designed to move. A lot of us in the tech industry believe that we’re more or less heads on sticks, like mobile lollipops. But we have bodies for a reason, and if we don’t move a lot of bad things can happen. We’ve all heard those scare tactics by the people who want to sell standing desks: if you sit for too long, you’ll get diabetes and die. By contrast, when we move, a lot of good things happen. We become rich, famous, and sexy. Or at least we get in better shape and can write blog posts a lot faster!

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Photo by Nikko Russano

Walking Helps Us Think

Ferris Jabr in his excellent New Yorker article Why Walking Helps Us Think, asks: “What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing?” Moving the oxygen in gives the little gray cells the right kind of food to get the job done.

He also says this:

“When we stroll, the pace of our feet naturally vacillates with our moods and the cadence of our inner speech; at the same time, we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down.”

So to speed up our thoughts, all we need to do is run a brisk mile.

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Put One Foot in Front of Another

Walking or hiking changes our moods and our thoughts, as well as letting us change the pace of our thoughts. We’ve all had the experience of our outer pace changing our inner pace. Sometimes it starts with music. And knowing that merely putting one foot in front of the other can quicken our thoughts, well, it’s a refreshing idea.

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Daydream Believer

Whether you’re outside hiking, or inside walking on a treadmill, spacing out can lead to creative ideas. And all your need to get started is a pair of walking shoes.

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It’s Not Just Anecdotal Any More

In the good old days (ok, pre-2014), people thought walking helped their creativity, but there was no science to backup the idea that creativity was linked to walking. Then a study, from Stanford came along, in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. And this article from the New York Times: Want to Be More Creative? Take a Walk.

Dr. Oppezzo, who led the study says

“Again, walking markedly improved people’s ability to generate creative ideas, even when they sat down after the walk. In that case, the volunteers who had walked produced significantly more and subjectively better ideas than in their pre-exercise testing period.”

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How Does Walking Improve Your Life?

Do you walk to be more creative? Do you take advantage of the new ideas you generate right after a walk? Let me know by leaving a comment!