Why love can make you more creative

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When you love someone, all your saved-up wishes start coming out.
~ by Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) ~

Many people spend their lives working, looking after family, keeping fit, and spending time with friends but an often neglected part of life is our creativity. Whether we are creative artists or not, there is a need in each and every one of us to express ourselves in a unique way. It doesn’t have to be anything highbrow, cooking, gardening or even the way we decorate our homes are all creative outlets and being in love can enhance all of them.

Think about it

You don’t even need to have found your perfect partner to get a creative boost, just imagining being in love can have a beneficial effect on our creativity. A new study demonstrates that thinking about being in love causes us to think more “globally,” which makes it easier for us to come up with new ideas. When we’re in love we actually think differently. Research has found that love actually alters our thoughts, and that this profound emotion affects us in a way that is quite different from the sexual act.

Global v local thinking

The researchers suggest that romantic love makes us think in a long-term way, whereas sexual desire makes us think in a more short-term perspective. This is because love usually involves wishes and desires for a prolonged attachment with a person, whereas sexual desire is usually focused on something happening in the here and now. When people were asked to imagine a romantic date or a casual sex encounter, the researchers found that those who imagined dates imagined them as occurring farther into the future than those who imagined casual sex. Thinking about events that are farther into the future triggers a more global thinking style.

Thinking in a global way promotes creative thinking because it helps you think in more unusual and interesting ways. For example, imagine a present for your partner. If we imagine the present while in a local mindset, then we’ll probably focus on obvious things like a box wrapped in pretty paper. The common choices come to mine, such as a watch, a book, or chocolates. However, thinking about a present more globally might mean our perception of a present could be anything that will make the other person happy. This will probably bring to mind more original and long-term ideas, such as a trip away, writing a song or poem or doing an outstanding job around the house.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we should always think globally. Being focussed on the present might interfere with creativity but it also promotes analytic thinking, which requires us to apply logical rules. For example, if you are looking for a sofa in a big display according to a and you want a certain size colour and price a local mindset may help you find a match because it will prevent you from being side-tracked by attractive, but irrelevant, options and you will pay more attention only to the relevant details.

Chemical reactions

There may also be a physiological explanation as to why love makes us more creative. Feelings of romantic love can boost levels of dopamine, a neurochemical which is often associated with creativity. Sexual desire can raise levels of testosterone which is known to improve analytical skills. These chemical links may have evolved to encourage us to have sex and reproduce.

Channel the energy

Being in love, or thinking about being in love, is useful when you want to imagine and create things that are out of your normal range of thinking. When in this frame of mind picking up a perhaps long-forgotten creative hobby can bring enormous joy and satisfaction. They say that emotion is energy in motion in the body and love is a sweet emotion to be filled with. Focusing this energy on your personal creative outlet can only prove to enhance it.


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