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Finding Your Creative "Aha Moment"

Kristen Prestano

Eat, Pray, LoveAfter a recent viewing of one of my favorite movies, Eat, Pray, Love, I was struck by a particular quote from the movie’s main character, Liz: “If you want to control things in your life so badly, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” Now, maybe it’s my tendency to seriously over analyze films or my personal goal to be more motivating and optimistic, but I think Liz’s quote hits upon the importance of creativity and strength of mind. A seemingly popular theme in American culture and cinema, Liz is not alone in her journey toward her self-discovery and “creative spirit.” In the company of many other film characters, like Julie Howel in Julie & Julia, Michael Orr in The Blindside and even Neo from The Matrix, Liz certainly embodies the same thirst for creativity that has heralded the PR industry for years.

Movies are known to reflect the collective consciousness of society, expressing realities that allow audiences to reach areas far out of their realm of comfort.  Perhaps it is the desire for instant gratification or perpetual information overload that often defines our time; but either way, it is clear that individuals today are looking for a similar “creative spirit.” When one considers the statistical decline in American creativity, it’s no surprise why so many can strongly identify with this theme; a frightening thought given the fact that creativity serves as the foundation of the PR industry.

I think we all inherently know that creativity is a valued commodity in today’s world. But why? I’d argue creativity remains fundamental to public relations for 2 important reasons: creativity leads to positive expressions in professional life; it produces valuable business output with better idea generation and brainstorming. The first point reveals itself in a firm’s ability to find proper talent, increase retention rates, and subsequently reduce employee turnover, while the latter leads to more “out-of-the-box” thinking. Whether it’s pitching a story to a reporter who is moving in 1,000 different directions or helping your client reach its audience in a simple, persuasive 140 character tweet, PR professionals are forced to tap their “creative side” on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

So how do you tap into this creative side? Being a bit more optimistic can help. Did you know that a positive mood has been scientifically proven to forge your brain’s insight and ability to reach intuitive, inventive answers? According to a recent New York Times article, happiness releases endorphins (the equivalent of my dark chocolate) that actually stimulate your brain’s creative juices—producing a snowball effect that helps entrust your strength of mind and even extend the parameters of your agenda. Creativity can be taught, but it does not come without a bit of effort; creativity is born from passion, energy and personality—all components of a positive mindset.

Accessing a creative, entrepreneurial mindset requires continuous learning. It’s not necessarily a natural born gift. But the good news is that you can train your brain like you would any other muscle. You can coach yourself to deviate from negative thoughts and move toward the positive. This won’t be easy at first, but there are simple steps you can take. Tackling a new hobby, trying your hand at puzzles or word game or engaging in a friendly debate are small ways to stretch your brain, while increasing the production of your creative juices.

Let’s face it, a creative and resilient mind is a precursor to success in marketing and communication based industries. It affords us the ability to deliver meaningful, inventive and “outside-of—the-box ideas.

So in the spirit of American film icons, challenge yourself to be a bit more creative. Go ahead…reach that “Aha moment”—Unbox your thoughts.

Kristen Prestano is an intern at CJP Communications. She is a senior communications major at Fairfield University.  CJP

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