“Happy” Your Way To A More Innovative And Creative Mindset

Article Contributed by Guest Author Hope Eaton

Recently I have been coaching a client, Kellie, who did not find meaning or engagement in her work yet could not see a way to change her situation.  From the outside, she looked successful as she managed to juggle the demands of her career and raising her 3 children with her partner, but she had the self-awareness to know that this was just the external perception.  Kellie was increasingly frustrated that she could not see any new solutions or get a fresh perspective on how to make changes that would allow her to realize her goal of better integrating her work and her personal life.

Because Kellie, like many of us, spent much of her day looking for problems and how to solve them, Kellie’s brain was literally wired to look for the negative.  As research in positive psychology illustrates, this focus on problems and the negative undercut her creativity, increased her stress levels, and lowered her motivation and ability to accomplish her goal.

To spark her innovation and creativity competencies so that she could come up with some fresh ideas to accomplish her goal, we utilized the following three techniques from positive psychology.

  1. Develop a positive habit:  Kelly took 5 minutes at the end of the day to make a list of what was positive in her work and personal live.  She alternated between reviewing each days events to identify an event or two that was positive in her day and making the exercise more general. This trained her brain to notice and focus on possibilities for growth and seize on opportunities to act on them.
  2. Develop a gratitude habit:  She also took 5 minutes at the beginning of each day to write down 3 things for which she was grateful.  Research shows that consistently grateful people are more creative, energetic, emotionally intelligent and less likely to be depressed, anxious or lonely.
  3. Identify your strengths and use them every day (a great free tool for this is the VIA Survey of Character Strengths which can be found on the Authentic Happiness website after you register).  Kellie was not completely surprised by the strengths that she identified; however, she was not using her top 5 very frequently.  Knowing your personal character strengths – what is best about you as a human being – is powerful knowledge that can be used to reach your full potential with your work, your family and your relationships.

By using these techniques, Kellie was able to take a look at her strengths and saw that there was a major disconnect between her strengths the work that she was doing.  After adopting the positive habit and gratitude habit, and armed with knowledge of her strengths, Kellie approached her employer to change the scope and terms of her employment to ensure that she was able to exercise her top strengths each day and modify her schedule so that she could spend more time with her family, one of her core values.   As a result, Kellie is much more happy and is using her enhanced creativity and innovation competency to identify new market opportunities and products at work and to engage with her family in new ways at home.

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