#2. A Sex-Free Mind Is a Creative Mind
Somewhere right now, a young man is walking into a new job and letting out a disappointed sigh when he sees that there in fact are no hot women working there. Well, if his job is to create things, he's better off not spending his day imagining shoving his face into the cleavage of a voluptuous supervisor. Now this isn't what you might think -- we're not just saying that a guy trying to design a new company logo is going to have trouble concentrating if he's trying to do it in a room full of nude models having a pillow fight. This isn't about horny people being distracted by sexual urges; it's about the type of thinking your brain does when you're focusing on sex.
To put it simply, the way we think can be divided into two basic processes called local and global thinking. The former is largely analytical, with increased focus on the present moment. Global thinking, on the other hand, is your classic "ideas man" brain work, with heavy emphasis on the big picture and the ability to focus on your creative side.
"Melinda, walk those gorgeous tits out of here and don't come back till you're too fat to eye-fuck."
Science has found that thinking about sex is all about boosting your petty local thinking. So it actually does help for logical, analytical tasks, which we guess means that the blowjob hacking scene in Swordfish was 100 percent scientifically accurate. The brain apparently treats sex as a crude mechanical process intended only for the continued survival of the species and uses the calculating part of the brain when dealing with it. If that makes us all sound like cold robots, here's the flip side: Thinking about love and long-term relationships boosts creativity through the roof.
And it makes sense -- throughout history, love has served as the inspiration for great works of art, poetry, songs and many other bursts of creative behavior. And you don't actually have to be in love, either -- according to research, all you need to do is think about being in love to get you creative juices flowing. Yep, love and sex live in completely different parts of the brain. This might be why great love songs tend to be of higher creative quality than, say, your average porn video.
"This next song, 'You're My Lifeboat,' was called 'I'm as Wet as a Beach' until I bought that new shower head."
#1. You Are More Creative When You Don't Get Paid
When push comes to shove, the most important thing about any work is getting paid. It's not so much a case of "No money, no honey" as it is one of "No money, no paying my bills and now I'm broke and homeless and by God I am going to burn this office to the ground." That's why most companies not only make a point of paying their employees, but offer all sorts of little rewards and incentives to motivate workers.
It's just sheer math, right? Creativity takes an enormous amount of energy -- even the worst movie you've ever seen took somebody months to write. Getting those inspirational juices flowing can be insanely difficult even when there's a big fat bonus (or a small one) to look forward to, so who could keep themselves motivated when the reward is a big, steaming pile of jack shit?
Pretty much anyone, according to scientists.
"You know, except for us. Rewards make us sciencier."
Incentives and reward systems are essentially nothing more than an upscale version of Pavlov's dogs and labyrinth mice. But as shocking as it may seem, humans don't respond to the old stick-and-carrot routine quite as well as your average donkey, so the benefit reaped from rewards is short term at best ... and when it comes to creativity, all bets are off.
Because creativity stems from the will to create, you are at your most creative when you neither expect nor get any reward. Receiving rewards for creative work can even undermine the whole process, as evidenced by a study among 1960s art school students: The ones who weren't subjected to extrinsic motivation (i.e., rewards) during their school years were doing just fine in their professional art life two decades later, since their creativity stemmed from the inside and they were thus ready for the ups and downs in their career. The ones who were accustomed to constant rewards during their formative years were doing ... rather less well.
"Hey, you lookin' for some neo-expressionism? I can do neo-expressionism real good."
Another study, conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School, had professional painters and sculptors select samples of both their commissioned (ordered and paid) and non-commissioned (freely created for no reward) works and subject them to evaluation. Without fail, evaluators ranked the non-commissioned works above and beyond the commissioned ones. It was almost as if, hah, the artists were at their most creative when they were free to enjoy their creativity.
We're not saying that creative people shouldn't get paid, obviously. Just don't be surprised if the stuff you do in your spare time turns out better.
Elorm is from Ghana, West Africa, and he'd really love to be your friend on Facebook.
For more on why you should probably get a new job, check out The 5 Most Useless Motivational Tactics Every Workplace Uses and 6 Petty Things That Start Wars in Every Office.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 5 New Space Projects Even More Awesome Than the Mars Rover.