Category Archives: Nature

Creativity — Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

Creativity has always been one of those things that people assume you either have it or you don’t. Even though in more recent years people have been advocating for fostering creativity in individuals, creativity still strikes many as a gift that is fixed and born within This may prevent many people from seeking out creative tasks and activities, when in fact they can become creative by furthering their glance on the shoulders of the most creative minds in history.

Although certain personality traits do tend to correlate with elevated creative potentials, creativity may not be as fixed as people believe. We need to stop seeing it as a trait or quality and instead see it as a pattern of thought and behaviour. I am not asserting that I know the way of innovation, but in reading about some of the most creative minds in history, I noticed a pattern in how they achieved some of their glorious triumphs and brilliant ideas.

1. They engage frequently. From the lives of the geniuses I’ve read about, they all immerse themselves in their work on a daily basis. Depending on what area they’re in, they may have different ways of working, but they never stopped thinking about or doing their work. Perhaps this is why they tend to get inspirations from practically everything around them.

2. They utilize history. In reading some of Carl Jung’s writings about artists and their works, I’m convinced that inspiration is only possible with the help of either education or experience or both. The more you know about a topic and the more you think about it, the more connections are being built and the more efficient you are in processing relevant information. This may make it easier for them to draw parallels between daily happenings and their work in progress.

3. They cast an extensive net. Their information comes from a vast range of different sources. This also helps with the fact that they think cross-disciplinarily, so to speak. These creative minds seem to be naturals when it comes to borrowing ideas from other disciplines that don’t seem relevant to their primary work. This is only possible if they have learned about multiple subjects or they have a rich life experience, or both. These ideas manifest themselves in all kinds of forms throughout their creative work.

4. They play around with the problem. One of the most common conceptions of creativity is the ability to find an unusual solution to a problem. Many people get stuck on the solution part of the task and when they can’t find one, give up altogether. However, the most creative minds don’t usually bother too much with finding the right solution. Instead, they seem to be most concerned about the questions they ask, which are often followed with “eureka” moments after being able to redefine a problem. For example, Einstein had the inspiration for his general theory of relativity when he transformed the problem of gravity into a problem of acceleration (in his theory these two are equivalent). So maybe the problem with us not-so-creative people is not to jump outside of the box, but to stop thinking of it as a box.

These were some of the common patterns I observed among the most creative minds. Of course there are other traits that underlie each of these behaviours and thinking patterns, but the above points help paint a rough sketch of a creative mind. Becoming more creative is certainly feasible. By taking a glance on the shoulders of creative giants, let’s hope we now all have the courage to stride as one ourselves.

By: Ruihong Yuan

Ruihong is a graduate from University of Toronto with a major in Psychology and Physics. He is currently looking to gain either clinical or research experiences in psychology. His goal is to become a clinical psychologist with his own practice and research in order to help people improve their lives and explore the mysterious human mind.

The Benefits of Nature

Nature-BrainWhen was the last time you had the chance to go for a hike, a bike ride, or a picnic? Nowadays we are so caught up with technology, that people prefer to stay inside than go out and be active. Nature is beautiful, calming, and has amazing health benefits such as providing us with warm sunlight and fresh clean air. According to a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, when living closer to nature your body and mind will be healthier.

One way of living closer to nature is to allow yourself a minimum exposure to natural sunlight, which provides our body with natural vitamin D. Some reasons as to why Vitamin D is so important is that it helps prevent cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, inflammation, and it contributes to the human body having a strong immune system. Sunlight also contributes in helping set the body’s internal clock. The internal clock is something that everyone has which indicate to us when to eat, sleep, as well as regulates and controls hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day.

Nature also provides us with fresh air which is a major benefit to one’s health. A health benefit would be that it helps your digestive system work more effectively. It also improves your blood pressure and heart rate. According to scientific research, when living in an environment that has dirty or polluted air, your body has to work twice as hard to receive the same amount of oxygen it requires than in a clean air environment. Fresh air helps clean the airway of your lungs so that they can dilate more fully, which in return cleans your lungs and makes them work more effectively. Just like sunlight, fresh air also strengthens your immune system. Our bodies operate by using our white blood cells to fight and kill bad bacterium. However for these white blood cells to work at their maximum capacity, they need clean oxygen.

Fresh air also increases serotonin levels in your body, a natural chemical which is known to be directly linked to the elevation of emotion such as the feeling of happiness. Serotonin is a chemical that is linked to constricting smooth muscles, regulating cyclic body processes and contributes to wellbeing and happiness.  The more oxygen inhaled the more your body produces serotonin Finally, fresh air results in a boost in energy and can enhance your mental performance and abilities. Your brain needs approximately twenty percent of your body’s oxygen. Inhaling cleaner oxygen will enhance clarity and improve concentration.

So next you time you have the weekend free, Toronto provides many amazing places for you to get back in touch with nature. You can visit some of the following places: Ashbridge’s Bay Park, Bluffer’s Park, Centre Island (which is very popular), Rouge Park, Evergreen Brick Works, High Park, Downsview Park, Riverdale Park, Riverdale Farm, Toronto Music Garden, Crothers Woods and Kortight Centre for Conservation.

By: Bruno Ngjeliu

Bruno