Creativity is a sought-after commodity among employers and those seeking personal or professional fulfillment. It comes in handy not only while concocting works of art and literature but also in planning a corporate event or devising a new business strategy. Some people seem more naturally open to new ideas and able to put them to innovative uses. Many of these individuals also tend to be a little…well…different, as Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson wrote in the May/June 2011 Scientific American MIND. But you don't have to be eccentric to be creative. You don't even have to be born with a knack for innovation.

Psychologists, artists and others have developed tactics and advice for unlocking people's creative potential (see, for example, "Let Your Creativity Soar" by Mariette DiChristina, John Houtz, Julia Cameron and Robert Epstein in Scientific American MIND, June/July 2008). In her recent book, Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity and Innovation in Your Life (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Carson outlined seven different "brainsets," or mental frameworks, that facilitate original thinking along with tips on how to cultivate these states of mind. Depending on your personality, some of the brainsets below may feel more comfortable than others. The idea here, though, Carson wrote, is to expand your mental horizons by venturing into your discomfort zone. The following slides describe each brainset, along with exercises that will help you train your brain to think in these mind-expanding ways.

View the slide show on the 7 ways to boost your creativity.