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8.6.2. Emotional States


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 8. The Motivating Fire > 8.6. How The Brain Does It > 8.6.2. Emotional States

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At any one time, we are in a mental and emotional ‘state’, being angry, happy, disconnected or attentive. We can also be in a creative state, where ideas flow easily to mind, where we are engaged and productive.

Can we change our own mental state, or are we at the mercy of subconsciously-driven emotion? The fact is that we can turn the tables, and with careful conscious thought we can affect our subconscious. The side-panel ‘how to get into a creative mental state’ uses the way that we store feelings alongside memories of events to re-access the creative state. It also adds a couple of other mental tricks to amplify the state and to create a trigger to help get into a creative state even faster by using the basic Pavlovian stimulus-and-response mechanism.

You can find many triggers which might work for you–consider the triggers used by these famous artists:

  • Rudyard Kipling only wrote in black ink.
  • Immanuel Kant wrote in bed, at the same time each day, staring at a tower outside his window.
  • Schiller kept rotten apples in his desk and put his feet in ice-cold water.
  • Ben Johnson drank lots of tea while listening to a cat purring and smelling orange peel.
  • Wagner composed while stroking velvet while Mahler preferred fur.
  • Beethoven poured cold water over his head.
  • Brahms polished his shoes.

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