Develop Your Creative Mind

by Kim Maglinti on May 16, 2010

Creative Mind

Creativity is one of those virtues that we seem to embrace as children and shun as adults. Unless you are in an artistic field… mainstream society will probably tell you, you don’t have a ‘real’ job… and creativity in a j-o-b can be close to nil.

Even in many marketing firms where creativity can make or break an ad campaign, many corporations simply can’t bring themselves to make the leap outside the box. It’s an odd paradox…companies want to be seen as current and edgy, but at the same time, they are afraid to take risks. Go figure! The result is a lukewarm creative response that leaves viewers uninspired and unimpressed.

What does all this mean for you? Well, it means that if you are a creative mind, you might face an uphill battle in receiving the respect and consideration you deserve. It also means that if you tend to think like the mainstream, you need to explore how to incorporate creative techniques into your skill set. You need to get creative, if you want to get noticed.

The Fuel Behind Creativity

Before we get into some ideas of how to improve your creative mind, let’s take a look at what is known to fuel creativity.

Dr. Teresa Amabile of the Harvard Business School did one of the most thorough reviews of creativity from a research standpoint. Her examination of nearly 12,000 daily journal entries from business employees led to the following conclusions:

  • Anyone can be creative. Creativity is not merely limited to ‘creative types.’
  • Money can actually have a negative effect on creativity. When people believe their paycheck is on the line, they tend to stick to conservative, old-faithful ways of doing things…might explain why many tend to be risk-adverse.
  • Tight deadlines and distractions can crush creativity
  • Creativity is most associated with joy and happiness. Angry, sad and anxious people are rarely creative.
  • Collaboration with others can fuel creativity.

Improving Your Creativity

Drawing from Dr. Amabile’s findings, here are some ways that you can help fuel your creative spark.

Give Yourself Time: Being under the gun is a sure way to clam up and lose creativity. When you are rushed, not only do you lose the opportunity to flesh out your idea thoroughly, but you will also be inclined to fall back on tried-and-true alternatives. If you want to choreograph a new routine, pulling an all-nighter to perfect it before your recital probably isn’t going to work. Instead of something fun, fresh and new, you will find yourself doing the same old moves.

Find that Zen State of Mind: Remember how happy people are creative people? You need to find that sweet spot – your Zen zone where troubles slip away. To get there you, might want to invest in quality alone time — take up yoga or meditate. Everyone will have a different way to get the self-care they need. Dump the energy drains in your life and other toxic influences. Let the joy come into your life, and allow the creativity flow.

Stop Walking Alone: Who can’t use support and encouragement? Work together with others in your field – as well as related fields – to get the creative juices flowing. From a practical standpoint, this can be immensely helpful. Others can give you ideas as to how they make room for creativity. Getting fresh perspectives sparks ideas.

Work Outside Your Comfort Zone: Practicality is probably the #1 killer of creativity. Familiarity comes in a close second. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the best way – or the right way. Mix up your routine and approach a problem from a different angle. You might be surprised to find that the old way was actually dragging you down.

Don’t be Afraid to Fail: If you never fail, you will never improve. Sure it can be embarrassing at first, but never let others shame you into standing still. This is your life to live to the fullest. If you never take risks – if you never fail – you will never grow. I’ll leave you with this quote from Henry Ford that sums it up nicely:

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.   – Henry Ford

Image via Wonderlane on Flickr

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Dia May 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Thanks Kim,

We are all really creative. Each one in his own way. Getting out of our comfort zone and not letting failure keep us from achieving our goals are 2 important points.

Nice article Kim :)
.-= Dia´s last blog ..Four powerful principles of Success =-.

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Hi Dia,

Successful folks have said, ‘get comfortable being a bit uncomfortable.’ It’s almost required in order to get out of familiarity and to grow. It’s makes for a great exercise. Good to see you again! :)

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Therese Miu May 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Thanks Kim.
As a mom I always encourage my son to be creative. I will use words such as “imagine this” or lay out on a mat outside and play imagination with Jeroen, naming ALL CLOUD SHAPES. I am always painting, writing, drawing, and doing anything that supports his creativity. It’s so important as adults that we nourish and nurture our creative nature and find a way each day to to fulfill our gifts. I have heard once that the #1 gifts no one can take away from us is IMAGINATION.

Thank You Kim for such a thoughtful post!
.-= Therese Miu´s last blog ..Thank You Mama! A Mother’s Day Wish for You =-.

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Hi Therese,

Imagination is a wonderful trait to foster in a child. Transitioning to adulthood and having responsibilities can sometimes hinder our creativity. Making it a point to nurture the use of your imagination with your family is a great way to support limitless possibilities in life!

Thank you for sharing your story :)

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Greg Blencoe May 16, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Hi Kim,

I might have mentioned it in my last comment, but I want to let you know that your new blog design looks REALLY good!

The paradox with corporations and creativity is quite interesting. In general, I think larger companies are best at establishing structures that provide organization and efficiency. But it’s quite difficult to have creativity in this environment. I think one of the reasons is, as you mentioned, you have to have some non-successes (I’m not crazy about the word failure!) in order to have some big creative breakthroughs.

For me, perhaps the most important point that you mentioned was keeping the negativity away. I am most creative when I am filled with positive energy.
.-= Greg Blencoe´s last blog ..30-day money challenge: Day 5 – Being more grateful for what I have =-.

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hi Greg,

Thank you for noting my changes. I’m working to have my site more representative of what is resonating within. :)

I like that you prefer the word, ‘non-successes.’ In streamlining processes, it would appear that corporations have little time to spend on creativity for the big breakthroughs that are necessary to stand out. It’s been said, more power is to the solo-professional who has flexibility. We are the primary decision maker with limitless possibilities.

I’m honored to have your positive energy here and I appreciate your contribution!

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Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey May 16, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I love this article, Kim!

I hate when I’m pressed for time especially when my creativity is at stake. Just like you said, deadlines limit creativity. I find that I’m more creative when I’m not pressed for time.

I also loved how you mentioned don’t be afraid to fail. Just like the birds that fly, at some point in time they had to fall down but they didn’t stay down they got back up and learned to fly.

Thank you so much for sharing!!

Reply

Kim May 17, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Hi Jarrod,

You have been excelling in the creativity department, I can barely keep up ;) You have been a wonderful model for time management, growth and execution, and staying connected!

Thank you for your support and encouragement. Always good to have you here!

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Hulbert Lee May 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Hey Kim, nice post on creativity. I also noticed that I think most creatively when I’m not in a negative mood, don’t have a tight deadline coming up, or have constant distractions around me; in other words, in a completely silent atmosphere. I think creativity comes in different forms for different people though. Some people need to have music or to be interacting with a whole bunch of different people.

I also like how you mention to work outside your comfort zone. Doing the same things over and over is unlikely to help us be more creative. Discovering and exploring something different, even though it may be uncomfortable and first, helps build our creativity. Thanks Kim.
.-= Hulbert Lee´s last blog ..Attraction – Esther Hicks =-.

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Hi Hulbert,

Creativity definitely comes in different forms, in different environments. Like you, I prefer quiet :)

Many of the profiles that you write about depict varying degrees of people getting outside of their comfort zone. They are inspiring and this topic reminds me of the quote, ‘if you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get the same results.’ Creativity definitely involves thinking outside the box, exploring outside one’s realm, and changing scenery.

Thank you for stopping by :)

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Ivana Sendecka May 17, 2010 at 1:08 am

Hey Kim,
super cool one!;-)

As Ken Robinson said: “If you are afraid to fail, you will never come up with anything original!”
I do agree, that having less resources can really get you creating unimaginable things ( I can tell,LOL) ;-)

we have been born creative, we have just been trained otherwise along the way. back to basics and re-discovering our inner child is great way to unlock the creative genius within us.

Have a super cool week, guys.
cheers from Slovakia
i.

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Hi Ivana,

Growing up with rules and ‘shoulds,’ then having responsibilities can squelch our creativity. I have a talk with my inner child every day ;)

I appreciate your contribution!
Much Love!

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Mandy Allen May 17, 2010 at 8:06 am

Hi Kim,

This is a great post. I do so agree with your comments, and especially the end about failing. We should try to see the learning that comes from these experiences as valuable because often it is the best source of our progress as human beings.

Enjoy the journey.

Mandy
.-= Mandy Allen´s last blog ..Helping out where we can =-.

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Hi Mandy,

It’s wonderful to discover the learning in each experience. Sometimes it requires a bit of time to pass, but as you’ve said, it’s the best source for our progress.

Thank you for stopping by and ‘helping out where you can.’ ;)

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Karen May 17, 2010 at 11:42 am

Hi Kim,

You’ve given some great advice and I particularly like the point about anyone can be creative. I bought a book a few years ago called “How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci” and it was a real eye-opener on how someone creative thinks ‘outside the box’. The ways that he came up to view situations was amazing. I think we all have the potential inside of us to be creative – and that doesn’t necessarily mean writing, painting, drawing, photography, etc – there are tons of other ways that one may not consider being creative, but are actually very imaginative. We should be embracing our inner, creative child :-)

Thanks,
Karen
.-= Karen´s last blog ..The Next Step In Finding Meaning For Your Life =-.

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Kim May 17, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Hi Karen,

I mentioned to Ivana, I talk to my inner child daily – haha ;) Thank you for mentioning the book. I’m not familiar with that one and it sounds worthwhile, particularly the part of exploring non-traditional ways of expressing creativity.

It’s so good to have you here again!
Much appreciated :)

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Baker May 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Hey Kim,
Wonderful post on creativity. In my personal life, I find that a mixture of collaboration and taking a risk keeps me on my toes on a creative level. This space opens a lot of doors for myself. You mention wonderful tips here to spark and improve anyone’s creativity.

Reply

Kim May 17, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Thanks Baker,

I’ve been following that creativity of yours — it’s awesome! The risks you take will keep things fresh, provide feedback, and contribute to your momentum. I’m here to support that :)

Thank you for stopping by!

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Evelyn Lim May 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Did you do something to your blog? It looks amazing! I love its simplicity and big enough fonts.

It seems that we share many common ideas. I certainly resonated with what you said about creativity being killed or stifled when around money concerns. How true!
.-= Evelyn Lim´s last blog ..Download Your Free Abundance Check Here =-.

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Kim May 18, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hi Evelyn,

Thank you for the kind words. The site is much easier to see and navigate :)

I enjoy your grace and creativity. Your work sparks ideas for many of us.
Thank you for stopping by!

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Faizal Nisar May 18, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Creativity is the force behind mankind’s advancements. When I need to be creative, I focus on the matter at hand. I block out all distractions and dedicate time to “thinking” about that subject for a while. As ideas flow in my mind, I write them down and build on those.
.-= Faizal Nisar´s last blog ..How to Build Confidence =-.

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Kim May 20, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Hi Faizal,

It’s inspiring to learn how others work to create. Seems we generate similarly with minimal distractions ;) Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Faizal Nisar May 27, 2010 at 10:38 pm

No problem, keep up the great work!
.-= Faizal Nisar´s last blog ..How To Use Your Time =-.

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Ben Weston May 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

Hey Kim,

I’m a particular fan of being willing to fail (as you probably have noticed with my last post!). I’ve always found creativity a scary endeavor. You are creating something and bringing into the world that previously only existed inside of you. It takes courage to take to your inner world and create it. Actually, that’s the reason for my blog! It’s scary as hell being truly creative, but absolutely worth it. And I’m glad you had the courage to pursue coaching and this blog!

Take care,
Ben

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Kim May 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Hey Ben,

Being willing and open is half the battle to growth and resolution. Being creative and sharing it with the world takes courage. Your site is aptly named. Exposing ourselves leaves us to criticism and disapproval. In answer, my favorite quote is, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ;)

Your support is equally appreciated!!

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rob white May 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Hi Kim,
This is a great and thorough post on the nature of creativity. I have always thought that being creative is the highest state of our authentic self. There is no greater high. I truly believe that we all came here to express ourselves authentically — when we are in this creative state we are fulfilling this need and are happiest. It is unnatural to be clutched by hardened thoughts… we are here to let our imagination soar!

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Kim May 21, 2010 at 2:13 am

Hi Rob,

Welcome! I like the way you frame creativity as the highest state of being our authentic self. In this space we can share our unique stamp of ideas or concepts — connecting within and finding fulfillment resonating with others.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Diggy May 21, 2010 at 1:03 am

Heya Kim!
New blog? Totally awesome, it looks much better!

I hope things are going well for you and that you are making good progress with your goals!

Have an awesome weekend ahead:)
Cheers
Diggy
.-= Diggy´s last blog ..90 Day Fitness Challenge Final Update =-.

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Kim May 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Hey Diggy,

It’s an honor to have you drop by!
Yeah, you can actually see things more clearly now.

Inspiration and motivation comes from articles like Attract Your Goals.
I appreciate your work!

Have a beautiful weekend!
See you soon,
Kim

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ayo May 21, 2010 at 9:52 am

hi kim,
how are you?
thanks for sharing several tips on how to improve one’s creativity. they are true to heart. i guess a lot of reflecting and taking risks after much thought would be classified under the Zen state of mind and not being afraid of failing. i seem to find myself this phase. i also want to use this as an opportunity to say thanks for all you do with respect to collaborating/contributing to the lifeskills magazine and the ‘discovering purpose’ blog despite your tight schedules. it’s really encouraging kim
take care and enjoy the rest of the day.

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Kim May 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Hi Ayo,

Our relationship is reciprocal — I equally appreciate your contributions and encouragement. Your friendship and time is valuable to me.

There’s no failure… only feedback ;)
Take care and have a beautiful weekend ahead!

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Keith Davis May 23, 2010 at 1:52 am

Hi Kim
Best way to be creative – go for a long walk.
Don’t think about anything in particular and let ideas come into your head.
As soon as you finish your walk – make a note of the ideas.
Walking seems to relax me and allows the ideas to come thick and fast.
Give it a go, it works for me.
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Laugh and the world… =-.

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Kim May 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Hi Keith,

I absolutely agree. Since I began to meld my work online, I’ve felt the necessity to get up, get out, and circulate. It helps with creativity and our overall sense of well-being.

Good to have you here again. I really think my readers could use many of the tips that you provide on your site :)

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Keith Davis May 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hi Kim
Thanks for mentioning my site.
I wouldn’t be offended if you were to pop over and leave a comment. LOL
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Laugh and the world… =-.

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Keith Davis May 26, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hi Kim
Thanks for your comment on my site.
Appreciate your support.
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..Laugh and the world… =-.

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Kim May 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Happy to learn of your work Keith :)

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Dawn @ Intimacy in Relationships May 23, 2010 at 8:49 am

Great post, Kim. I love all the tips you enumerated. In addition to your wonderful article, I think that discovering one’s underlying values would help a person develop his creativity. By identifying his underlying values, the person can then focus on the positive aspects of his life. This in turn could help him find his passion, and as a result, make him more creative.

Reply

Kim May 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Hi Dawn,

Thank you for adding ‘value’ to my post. ;) Our values are indeed a driving force to what we do and what we create.

I appreciate your thoughtful contribution!

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Walter May 24, 2010 at 12:42 am

How I wish to have a continuous flow of creativity at every moment, but certain realities of life drains such divine gift. With my trial and error in grasping the elusive nature of my creativity, I have found that we can actually summon it whenever we wish for it. Creativity can be subservient to our command, but it takes a little bit of time to wade its way through the congested mind. :-)

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Kim May 24, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Hi Walter,

Power to you for having creativity at your command! Allowing life’s energy drains to fall away and clearing our congested thoughts, permits us to get into flow. It’s a worthwhile pursuit, I can tell from your site ;)

Thank you for stopping by!

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Angela Artemis May 28, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Hi Kim,
This was a wonderful post! I’m so interested in the topic of creativity. Not long ago I was researching an article on creativity and came across the research of Amabile and found it most fascinating.

I do have to say that working for a mega-bank does curb your creativity. No one will take any risks and any out of the box-like suggestions are frowned upon. It’s as if everyone turns into a robo-banker when they walk through the doors.

Thanks for this great post!
.-= Angela Artemis´s last blog ..Awaken To The Truth of Who You Really Are =-.

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Kim May 29, 2010 at 10:00 am

Hi Angela,

There are indeed many corporate jobs that leave little room for imagination and creativity. Fortunately, we have an outlet to expand our imagination and ideas.

Good to have you here again.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Reply

S. Ali Myers - Soulful Body & Mind June 2, 2010 at 4:39 am

Kim,

I really like this post. I would like to add that, from my perspective, lack of creativity starts in our school systems. The concentration on uniformity and “one answer rule” detrimentally reduces students natural tendency to approach concepts and new idea from their perspective. I believe if we encouraged more “free thinking” we would produce more independent and creative minds.

Just my two cents.

Take care!
Ali
.-= S. Ali Myers – Soulful Body & Mind´s last blog ..10 Ways Juice Fasting Could Benefit You =-.

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Kim June 2, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Hi S. Ali,

Happy to meet you! Your two cents makes perfect sense! It seems a contradiction to want the next generation to come up with creative / innovative ideas when we impose rules and restrictions.

Thank you for your valuable contribution and for stopping by!

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Ralph June 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Great post! I also think collaboration is another key to increasing creativity. When Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti were in competition to design the Florence Baptistery doors in Florence Italy in 1401, Ghiberti constantly asked for feedback while Brunelleschi kept his work a secret until the unveiling. Ghiberti won because he had the input of many others and that input helped create a masterpiece.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 11:18 am

Welcome Ralph!

Thank you for sharing a beautiful story that illustrates the value of collaboration to expand creativity. I’m sure the images I’ve seen don’t do the masterpiece justice. Possibilities are endless when participation and cooperation are present.

Thank you for stopping by and contributing :)

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Janet June 20, 2010 at 12:06 pm

As a fine art painter I know that being creative is not enough, to succeed
determination, discipline, inner strength, a positive outlook, and a good disposition are required not to mention ability, and TALENT. Also stress kills creativity, and most artists have to work to live and still find time to explore their creativity or wait until they have financial security to persue their art.
I have been on all levels and in all situations, worked so many different jobs, trying always to find one that at least involved using my talent. The only reason I made it is because I accepted successs asan accomplished fact, and remained true to myself and remained positive every moment. Six years ago I was diagnosed with MS, I was partially paralysed on my entire left side and had double vision, using the power of positive thought I am now normal except for my double vision, but I am able to paint with great detail inspite of
this, and I know it is all due to the power of positive thinking. The mind is a powerful magnet it draws to you what ever you put in it. I say: The mind is a garden of thought, whatever you plant there grows. Be careful not to feed fears, as this causes them to knock on your door. Be positive also in what you think about others, as sending negative energy to others returns it to you. I like to think that positive living is the real religion, not that I’m religious, but the true christian or jew or islam lives a positive life. Positive living is the highest form of art….creating yourself and your world.

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Kim Maglinti June 20, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Welcome Janet,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for sharing your personal experience. You have an inspirational story and if you’d like to share it as a guest post, I’d be honored to have you contact me :)

Many aspiring creative artists can afford encouraging words as positive thoughts are indeed where it all begins.

A chance meeting that inspired me to become certified in hypnotherapy was from getting to know a young woman who was diagnosed with cancer. With the help of her medical team, she was able to hasten her healing, along with the power of positive thought at the subconscious level. I’m convinced of its benefits. Her doctors were astounded.

There’s no doubt that your success is a result of your positive thoughts.

I agree with what you’ve said, ‘positive living is the highest form of art.’ Our lives are a reflection of what is within.

With Gratitude,
Kim

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