I was hanging out with some of my most out-of-the-box-thinking friends and the conversation, unsurprisingly, drifted to creativity. Oh, man, the insights that were shared! I immediately knew I had to break it down for all of you. Let me drop the first bombshell on you: creativity? It isn’t about how many skills you’ve stacked up. No, it’s all about the state of mind. Boom! Mind-blowing, right?

Over the years, in all my leadership roles, from Fortune 500 powerhouses to scrappy startups, one constant stood out: the most innovative folks were not necessarily the most skilled. Sure, they were competent, but it was their mindset, that magical ability to tap into something deeper, that set them apart. They could see the unseen, dream the undreamt, and damn, turn the impossible to the ‘been there, done that.’

I’ve been in those boardrooms, you know, with the stifling air and fluorescent lights, where everyone’s tossing ideas around like hot potatoes, hoping something will stick. Most times? Nada. Zilch. But then there are those other times, often in the most unexpected places, where a simple conversation by the water cooler or a casual chat over drinks after work turns into a goldmine of ideas. Why? Because creativity thrives when the mind is free, relaxed, and, let’s face it, a little buzzed.

It’s not about that highfalutin jargon or those overpriced brainstorming retreats. Nah, it’s about understanding the deeper processes of your mind, recognizing what gets your creative juices flowing, and then doing more of THAT. And trust me, once you get this, you’ll be churning out brilliant ideas like they’re going out of style.

I’m here to share some pearls of wisdom, some straight from those casual brew-infused chats with my genius friends, and some from my own wild rides in the corporate jungle. Buckle up, friends, because we’re about to uncover the secrets behind creativity.

The Real Tea on Flow State

So, you’ve heard about “The Zone,” right? That magical place where time stands still, distractions vanish, and you’re just in the groove, making things happen. It’s like everything aligns, the stars, the moon, your coffee’s caffeine level, and boom! You’re on fire. But what the heck is it? Well, in the world of science and psychology, it’s called the “Flow State.” And man, it’s the real MVP when it comes to boosting your productivity.

Let’s demystify this bad boy. Being in flow means you’re fully immersed in what you’re doing. You’re in the moment, entirely focused, and everything else just fades away. Think of it like being in a video game, where you’re so engrossed that you forget to eat, sleep, or even check that buzzing phone of yours. The outcome? Productivity levels shoot up by a whopping 500%. Yeah, you read that right. No BS.

But here’s the kicker. It’s not just us mere mortals who’ve discovered the magic of flow. The bigwigs at places like Googleplex, with their out-of-this-world amenities (no, really, have you seen their nap pods?), they’re all about creating environments that foster flow. And then you’ve got the adventurous Sir Richard Branson with his Necker Island escapades, making sure his team gets a taste of that sweet, sweet flow state. Even the mad scientists over at Nike, with their futuristic labs, they’re all over it.

You want some hard facts? Let’s talk about the jaw-dropping findings from McKinsey. Brace yourselves, because this one’s a game changer. If we could just up the ante and increase the time we spend in flow, the overall workplace productivity would, hold onto your hats, almost double. Yup, you’re not dreaming. That’s the real tea, folks. And this isn’t about burning the midnight oil or chugging more energy drinks. It’s about tapping into the natural power of our brains, supercharged by five rocking neurochemicals — norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and the superstar of the show, anandamide.

So, the next time someone throws the word “productivity” around, you can casually drop some knowledge about flow state. Let them in on the secret sauce that’s been driving innovation at some of the world’s top companies. And hey, maybe, just maybe, you can also find ways to sip on that flow state magic in your daily grind.

Decoding the Neurochemistry Behind Creativity

When we’re talking about the brain being on drugs, we’re not talking about that sketchy dude in the alleyway kind of stuff. No, no, no. We’re diving deep into the natural high our brains can get, all thanks to some kickass neurochemicals. These bad boys play a massive role in shaping our creativity, mood, and how we approach problems.

First up, meet the “Fantastic Five”: Norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, and, of course, the crowd favorite, anandamide. These are nature’s way of saying, “Hey, I got you!” when it comes to boosting our creative prowess.

Norepinephrine is like that cup of coffee that wakes you up in the morning. It sharpens your focus, gets your heart racing a bit, and preps your brain to take on the world. Dopamine? Oh man, that’s the feel-good superstar. Every time you tick something off your to-do list, hit a milestone, or get a like on that perfectly-filtered Instagram post, dopamine is the dude behind the curtain giving you a high-five.

Endorphins? These are your body’s natural painkillers. Whether you’re pushing through a tough workout or just powering through a long day, endorphins have your back, ensuring you keep going strong. Serotonin is all about those good vibes. It’s responsible for that feeling of well-being and happiness. Think of it as nature’s chill pill.

And now, for the main event: Anandamide. Dubbed “The Bliss Molecule,” this little gem is what’s really behind the legendary “runner’s high.” And guess what? It isn’t about endorphins. Nope. Those eureka moments you have while out on a jog or when you’re just zoned out? That’s anandamide throwing a full-blown party in your noggin.

You see, anandamide plays a vital role in things like mood regulation, appetite, and even our memory processes. It’s like the Swiss army knife of neurochemicals, with a trick up its sleeve for every situation. And when it comes to creativity? Well, anandamide is like that secret weapon you whip out when you need to think outside the box. It promotes lateral thinking, helps us see connections where we might not have before, and genuinely fuels those “aha!” moments.

Ever wondered why some of the greatest ideas seem to come out of nowhere when you’re least expecting them? Maybe when you’re taking a shower, out for a walk, or just daydreaming? Yup, you can tip your hat to anandamide for that. It operates in the background, connecting the dots, and occasionally surfacing to give you that lightbulb moment.

In a nutshell, our brains are these incredible, intricate machines. And these neurochemicals? They’re the oil that keeps the gears running smoothly. So next time you’re in the throes of a creative block or just feeling a bit meh, remember that there’s a whole cocktail of neuro-goodness ready to help you out.

The Absurdity of Traditional Brainstorming

We’re about to shake up some age-old conventions, and frankly, it’s about time. Here’s the lowdown: Traditional brainstorming? It’s kinda outdated. I know, I know – it’s been the go-to method for idea generation in boardrooms across the globe. But bear with me as we unravel the why and the what-the-heck we can do about it.

First off, let’s call a spade a spade. Most traditional brainstorming sessions? They’re, well, a tad bit snooze-worthy. Picture this: A group of people, cramped in a room that’s either too cold or too hot (because office thermostats are just mystical entities that nobody understands). Everyone’s armed with a pen, a notepad, and maybe a lukewarm cup of Joe. The whiteboard’s all clean, waiting for those groundbreaking ideas. But here’s the kicker – more often than not, it remains as blank as my face during math class in high school.

The standard brainstorming session usually has a bunch of peeps just tossing ideas into the void, hoping something sticks. But it’s like trying to fish with a net that’s got giant holes – a lot of effort with minimal results. And let’s not even get started on groupthink. That sneaky phenomenon where everyone starts thinking in a dangerously similar manner? Yeah, creativity’s mortal enemy.

Now, I’m not just pulling these claims out of thin air. Red Bull (yeah, the energy drink folks) threw down some serious cash on a study called Hacking Creativity. They rallied over 30,000 high performing athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and pros to uncover what really tickles our creative fancy. And what they found? It was nothing short of groundbreaking.

While everyone acknowledged the pivotal role of creativity in problem-solving, there was this glaring gap. People, including big-time companies, didn’t know how to train that creative muscle. Just telling someone to “think outside the box” doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s like handing someone a guitar and expecting them to churn out hits without any lessons.

Red Bull’s study spotlighted how traditional brainstorming is just not equipped to navigate the complex challenges of today’s world. We’re living in a time where innovation is king, and the old-school ways of ideation are akin to riding a bicycle in an F1 race – charming, but you aren’t winning any trophies with that.

Look, I’m not saying you need to toss out brainstorming entirely. It has its moments. But it’s crucial to recognize its limitations and, more importantly, be open to evolving. The world’s changing at breakneck speed, and if our creative processes don’t keep up, we risk being left in the proverbial dust.

As we journey further, we’ll plunge into the fascinating worlds of conscious vs. unconscious mind processing. A hint? It’s where the magic really happens. But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Conscious vs. Unconscious Mind Processing

Let’s dive into one of the most mesmerizing spectacles of the human psyche: the tango between our conscious and unconscious minds. It’s like the superhero duo you never knew existed but has been saving your creative butt all along.

First up, the conscious mind. That’s the dude you’re most familiar with. It’s the one taking in this article, processing this information, and probably overanalyzing that text you sent earlier. It’s the surface level, the tip of the iceberg. The conscious mind handles decisions you actively make, like picking a salad over that drool-worthy pizza or begrudgingly hitting the gym after work.

But here’s where it gets wicked cool: beneath that iceberg’s tip lies a vast, mysterious expanse – the unconscious mind. It’s the powerhouse that handles about 95% of everything we do. Think about it. Do you actively remember to breathe, ensure your heart keeps pumping, or store every little memory since you were a tot? Heck no! The unconscious mind’s got your back.

And when it comes to creativity, this bad boy is the unsung hero. Ever had those moments when, after hours of banging your head against the wall over a problem, you suddenly find the answer while showering or taking a lazy stroll? That’s your unconscious mind, flexing its muscles. It processes massive amounts of information, connecting dots in ways your conscious mind can’t even fathom.

But here’s the catch. Most of us are blindfolded to this realm of possibilities. We’re so caught up in our day-to-day hustle, cramming information, and ticking off to-dos that we don’t give our unconscious mind the stage it deserves. And that’s like owning a Ferrari but never taking it out of the garage!

Jamie, a buddy of mine and a fellow creative genius, once quipped, “Drowning in Red Bulls and coffee won’t get you there.” And, man, was he spot on. Downing caffeine like there’s no tomorrow might keep you awake, but it won’t necessarily tap into that rich reservoir of creativity lurking in the depths of your brain.

The trick is to find a balance. Feed your conscious mind with experiences, knowledge, and stimuli. But then, give it a break! Let it simmer. Let your unconscious mind marinate on it, churn it, and come up with gold.

As we’ll explore later, there are techniques to juice up your creativity and give that unconscious mind a nudge. But the key takeaway here? Recognize the immense power of your unconscious processes. Give it the respect it deserves. Let it breathe, and trust me, it’ll reward you with ideas that’ll leave you and everyone else gobsmacked.

To sum it up, while the conscious mind is your day-to-day warrior, the unconscious mind is the silent ninja, operating in the shadows, crafting masterstrokes when you least expect it. So, the next time you’re stuck, remember: sometimes, it’s not about pushing harder, but stepping back and letting the magic unfold.

Techniques to Juice Up that Anandamide

Let’s dive deep, friends. Remember that buzzword, “anandamide”? If not, you might wanna jump a section back. But for those onboard, let’s explore the juicy ways to crank up this badass molecule. Why leave our brain on default when we can give it a turbo-boost?

  1. Get that body moving: The desk chair is humanity’s latest frenemy. Sure, it’s cozy, but it isn’t doing your creativity any favors. When you work out, especially in the aerobic zone like running or cycling, anandamide levels in the blood shoot up. So, those eureka moments on the treadmill? They aren’t random. They’re chemically charged epiphanies. Plus, bonus: it’s good for those abs and buns. Double whammy!
  2. Meditation: Think it’s just for those mountain-top monks or your quirky aunt with a house full of crystals? Think again. Meditation, particularly mindfulness, can spike anandamide levels. It’s a double-edged sword of calm and creativity. And with apps like Headspace & Calm making waves, it’s easier than ever to get started. So, take a deep breath, and let your mind wander.
  3. Chocolate: Oh, sweet, heavenly chocolate! Now, I’ve got another reason for you to indulge in that dark, delicious treat. Dark chocolate, particularly the stuff with 70% cocoa and above, is packed with compounds that increase anandamide. It isn’t just a treat for your taste buds; it’s brain candy.
  4. Sciencey brain zaps for creativity: Okay, it sounds way more sci-fi than it is. Techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can, in some cases, foster creativity. It’s like giving your brain a gentle electric nudge. But remember, it’s early days in this research. So, don’t go DIYing this at home.
  5. Weed & Creativity: Yep, had to go there. Cannabis and creativity have been in the same sentence for eons. THC, the main psychoactive compound in weed, mimics anandamide in our brain. So, those bursts of inspiration? That’s the THC playing around with your neural pathways. But a word of caution: it’s not a one-size-fits-all. What sparks creativity in one might just make another super hungry. And, as always, vibe responsibly.
  6. Psychedelics: The big guns. From Steve Jobs to numerous artists, many have claimed psychedelics opened their creative floodgates. Substances like LSD or psilocybin can lead to increased neural connectivity, giving you fresh perspectives. But, and this is a giant BUT, they aren’t toys. The experience can be profound but can also be unsettling. Always remember to vibe responsibly and know the legalities in your area.

To wrap this up, boosting that anandamide and tapping into your creative reservoir isn’t just about fancy techniques or radical changes. It’s about knowing your brain, understanding what makes it tick, and giving it the right nudges at the right time. It’s the 21st century, peeps. Time to take the wheel and drive your brain to its creative peaks.

Hacks to Fuel Your Creative Fire

I’ve been around the block a few times, and while the neuro-sciencey stuff is all cool, sometimes you need those quick and dirty hacks to light up your brain. Ready to fan those creative flames? Buckle up!

  1. Nighttime rituals: Assign your brain some homework. Ever headed to bed with a problem and woke up with an answer? No, you aren’t dreaming. While you’re counting sheep, your brain is crunching numbers, drawing patterns, and weaving solutions. Before you hit the sack, think about a creative challenge. Just plant that seed. Let your subconscious do the heavy lifting. You might just wake up with the next big idea.
  2. Morning game plan:
    • Hydrate: Before that coffee, before that juice, chug down a glass of water. Your brain is about 75% water. Keep it quenched, and it’ll keep you sharp.
    • Cold showers for the brave: Okay, it sounds brutal. But hear me out. A blast of cold water boosts circulation, snaps you awake, and gets those creative juices flowing. It’s like a mini-reboot for your system.
    • Sound trips with binaural beats: Pop in those earbuds and drift into a soundscape designed to boost concentration and creativity. It’s kinda like hacking your brain with tunes. Cool, right?
    • Keep your inbox the hell away: Those morning emails? They can wait. Start your day with a clean slate. Dive into creative work first. Guard those first hours. They’re golden.
  3. Crafting your productive day:
    • Protect the first 90 minutes like it’s sacred: That’s right. The first hour and a half of your day? That’s when you’re at your prime. Your mind is fresh, distractions are minimal. Dive deep. Create, design, write. Do whatever lights your fire.
    • The Pomodoro technique: No, it isn’t a saucy Italian dish. It’s a time-management hack. Work in focused bursts of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. Repeat. It keeps your mind fresh and guards against burnout.
    • Feeling sluggish? Drop and give me twenty! Push-ups, jumping jacks, a quick walk. A little physical jolt can reset your brain and kick you back into high gear.

In the hyper-connected, always-on world of today, guarding your creative energy is more crucial than ever. You gotta be proactive. Set up rituals, carve out time, and be relentless in its pursuit. Creativity isn’t just about those lightbulb moments; it’s about creating an environment where those moments can thrive.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a seasoned artist, or just someone looking to inject a bit more flair into their day, remember this: Creativity isn’t a reservoir; it’s a river. Keep it flowing, keep it fresh, and most importantly, keep exploring.


Alright, friends, here’s the grand wrap-up. After diving deep into the intricate dance of our brains, the flow state, and all those badass tricks up our sleeves, here’s the main take-home message: you, my friend, have an epic creative genius inside of you, just waiting to break free.

Let’s put some things into perspective. We’re living in an era bursting with tools, tech, and knowledge that our ancestors couldn’t even dream about. But, at the core of it all, what really makes us stand out in this digitized, optimized world is our human touch – that spark of originality, the flavor of authenticity, the splash of innovation. That’s where creativity comes into play.

Remember when we chatted about the flow state? That elusive “zone” where everything just clicks, and you’re operating at peak performance? That’s not some fairy tale land reserved for the Elon Musks and Beyoncés of the world. It’s right there, within your grasp. All you gotta do is learn the rhythm, recognize the signs, and dance along.

And those neurochemicals playing DJ in your brain? They’re not just there for kicks. They’re your body’s way of saying, “Hey, something epic is happening here.” When that anandamide kicks in, when those dopamine levels surge, it’s like a cosmic nod, signaling you’re on the right track.

We’ve also talked about traditional brainstorming and, let’s be real, the slight absurdity of it. Innovation doesn’t come from sitting in a grey room, staring at a whiteboard. It springs from experience, from diversity, from embracing the chaos and unpredictability of life. And heck, maybe from a bar of chocolate or two.

But, above all, remember the hacks? Those daily rituals, the morning game plans, and the clever techniques to fuel the creative fire? Those aren’t just random tips from the annals of the internet. They’re time-tested strategies, honed by the brightest minds and the fiercest creatives, to keep that flame alive and kicking.

So, as we wrap up this rollercoaster of insights, I urge you to reflect, to question, and to experiment. Dive deep into the waters of creativity, explore the nooks and crannies of your mind, and challenge yourself every day. Because, when it’s all said and done, creativity isn’t just about producing art or launching startups. It’s a way of life.

In the words of the legendary Robin Williams, “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” So, harness that madness, nurture it, and let it guide you to horizons unknown.

To all the rebels, the dreamers, the doers, and the downright brilliant minds out there – here’s to a future bursting with creativity. And hey, next time you’re in a rut, remember our chat. Throw out the rule book, grab that cold brew (or chocolate), and dive headfirst into the great unknown.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.