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Sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest difference in your creativity. As we’ve been talking about interdependence lately, I want to touch on how spending even a little time with the people closest to us can help us feel more creative, empowered, and happy. Even 5 minutes with your best friend can transform your creativity.
Why interdependence matters
Humans are hardwired for connection. We need other people in order to feel our safest, be our happiest, and experience the most growth. When we work with others, we are able to accomplish things we wouldn’t be able to accomplish on our own. We see this all the time in workplaces, families, and social groups.
Why closeness matters
Interdependence works everywhere and for most relationships — even strangers can support each other in meaningful ways. Even so, there is something to be said for close, familiar relationships.
One study examined the effect of closeness on empathy. In the study, people held hands with either a stranger or their own romantic partner, and then were given a heat stimulus resulting in a burn-like sensation.
The people holding hands with their romantic partners reported feeling less pain from the burn-like sensation than those holding hands with strangers did. Additionally, researchers observed brain activity associated with empathy in the romantic partners.
This suggests that closeness matters. Having that empathetic connection with someone can help you in ways that connecting or working with strangers can’t.
How 5 minutes with your best friend can transform your creativity
Of course, you don’t have to be experiencing physical pain to get support from a close friend. Our best friends can play any number of roles in our lives — possibly all at once. And spending even a short amount of time with your best friend can make a huge difference.
Here are some of the ways a best friend can transform your creativity in just 5 minutes.
Sometimes, we just need someone to tell us we’re on the right track. I know that for me, hearing “You’re not crazy” from someone I trust can totally turn my mood around. Even if it’s only my emotions being validated—”That makes sense” or “I can totally see how you would feel that way”—makes me feel seen and safe.
This can transform your creativity by giving you a safe space to share ideas and express yourself. When you can trust your best friend to not try to talk you out of your feelings or shoot down every idea you have, you’ll be able to feel your feelings and (ideally) leverage them for your creative benefit.
It’s easy for me to get tunnel vision when I’m working on a creative project. I can start to only see things one way. That means, when I get stuck, I’m really stuck. I can’t try on a different perspective or approach a problem from a different direction, because I simply can’t imagine it working another way.
A trusted friend, however, can often present a different way of looking at the problem. They don’t have to solve it for me, but they can help me think about it in a new way, or present new ideas I hadn’t even considered. This type of collaboration can transform creativity in the short-term (by helping you with the problem at hand), and in the long-term (by helping you practice thinking in different ways and entertaining new perspectives).
Never underestimate the power of a good cheerleader. When someone cheers you on and expresses faith in your abilities, it boosts your confidence and gives you more motivation to keep going.
That kind of optimism and belief in yourself can transform your creativity. With it, you are more likely to try new things, push your own limits, and explore the reaches of your creative mind.
A critical eye
We all have that friend who is a fantastic critic. Sometimes, that might work against you, but when it comes to creativity, a friend with a critical eye can be a huge asset.
It’s easy to get swept up in your own good ideas. When that happens to me, I often become blind to potential weaknesses or downsides. Unfortunately, my work suffers because of it.
It’s important to get criticism of your work, and when it comes from a good friend, that’s even better (because you can be confident that it’s not personal).
Honest advice or feedback
Similarly, having a friend you can trust to give you honest feedback—good or bad—is priceless.
This is the friend who can tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.
That may be that you need to go in a different direction, or it may be that you need to go even further down the path you’re already on. They may tell you to try something new, or they may tell you it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen you make. Either way, believe them!
I’m getting more into my hobby of electronic music right now, and one of my absolute best resources is a friend who knows more about it and will tell me when something works and when it doesn’t. Feedback I can trust is only going to make me better.
Asking for what you need from your best friend
Most of us have someone we would consider to be our best friend, whether it’s a romantic partner, coworker, family member, or other friend. But even when you have that person in your life, getting what you need from them doesn’t always happen automatically. Sometimes, you have to ask for what you need. And that, unfortunately, is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.
Here are a couple quick tips that might help.
- Know what you need. You can’t ask for what you need if you don’t know what you need. So step back and evaluate the situation. What would benefit your creativity most right now? Do you need a listening ear, some outside wisdom, honest feedback, validation, or something else?
- Remember: they want to help. Your friends love you and want to support you in your creative efforts. Don’t talk yourself out of asking for help in fear of putting them out or feeling rejected.
- Be vulnerable. Vulnerability isn’t weakness. It’s showing up authentically. Show up authentically for your friends. Share your feelings. Be open and honest.
- Start with what you need. Ask for what you need, clearly. Say something like, “I’m having this problem, and what I really need is [x].” Don’t just start talking and hope they’ll respond in the way you need them to. Set them up for success and tell them what kind of support you’re looking for.
5 minutes with your best friend can transform your creativity in any number of ways. So speak up, reach out, and spend time connecting. You’ll be happier and more creative as a result.
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