German graphic designer Thomas Manss once said, “To create a memorable design you need to start with a thought that’s worth remembering” and here in Stereotheque that’s exactly what we try to do every day, come up with ideas worth remembering. As you might think, it’s very challenging to consistently come up with breakthrough, innovative ideas. We are always on the lookout for ways to keep up our productive thinking and the answer might lie in neuroscience.
Dr. Baba Shiv, the Sanwa Bank, Limited, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business is an expert in neuroeconomics. Dr. Shiv recently wrote an article about what neuroscience teaches us about getting the best out of ourselves and our work environment to maximize our creative output, in the “Driving Innovation and Ideas” Stanford Business School e-book. Dr. Shiv identifies something he names the X Framework, two pathways intersecting in an X formation. The first pathway goes from a “state of physiological arousal, often manifested as anger, fear, and anxiety and governed by the chemical cortisol, down to a place of comfort, typically produced by the calming hormone serotonin”. The second pathway “moves us from a low physiological arousal – which we think of as boredom or apathy – toward excitement, thanks to the naturally occurring stimulant dopamine”. It’s in our nature to find a balance in our emotions, for instance if the brain is stressed it will prevent itself for seeking new territories and new emotions, however after it calms itself down it becomes prone to get out of its boredom state and seek new emotions.
According to Dr. Shiv’s article, having a good night’s sleep, eating a balanced diet and exercising can play a crucial role in maximizing creativity, how? Creativity reaches its peak when the body has high levels of serotonin and dopamine, which helps a person stay both calmed and energized. According to the article, a great way of boosting serotonin is to get at least two hours of deep sleep. Deep sleep can be achieved by following simple rules such as setting a regular schedule, reducing your caffeine consumption (specially after 5 p.m.), sleeping in a confortable and climate controlled environment, avoiding alcoholic beverages at least three hours before bedtime, and lowering your exposure to lights (including cellphones) when getting into bed. Dr. Shiv also points out that a healthy diet that includes a high-protein breakfast that will be easily converted into dopamine and serotonin is essential to succeed in the creative process.
While most people agree with the assertion that creativity is innate, neuroscience proves that there are many ways that we can help the creative process, so don’t forget: get rest, eat right, exercise and CREATE!