Eat Your Popcorn with Chopsticks

Josh Linkner
November 01, 2020

Josh Linkner

Five-time tech entrepreneur, hyper-growth CEO, NY Times bestselling author and venture capitalist.
Business Business Keynote Creativity & Innovation

We effortlessly perform the same morning ritual - rushing the kids off to school, gulping down the usual coffee, taking the standard route to work. When visiting our favorite restaurants, we gravitate toward the same menu items instead of trying something new. We listen to our favorite musical artists on repeat and then binge-watch our favorite shows.

Following proven (and safe) routines is only natural. In fact, our brains are hard-wired to stick to the tried-and-true. When our ancestors discovered a safe route to find berries without getting eaten by a tiger, it made sense to stick to that plan instead of taking a dangerous risk for the sake of novelty. But today, our repetitive patterns can rob us of our creative potential and even our happiness.

Two weeks after buying that new car, you barely notice the aspects that once made your heart thump with excitement. Psychologists call this phenomenon hedonic adaptation. It's the principle that our enthusiasm for something new (location, food, purchase, relationship, etc.) reverts back to the previous baseline once we get accustomed to it. As routine sets in, happiness wanes.

The same forces can weigh down our creativity. The first day in a new office is loaded with fresh stimuli, electrifying our creative energy to new heights. But sit at the same desk for years, and the creative voltage can easily dissipate. This is why people often have their best ideas in the shower, on vacation, in nature, or enjoying live music. When we break free from our normal surroundings, we unlock creativity.

While a change of venue can help, switching the scenery isn't the only worthy approach. In fact, you'll experience a direct creative boost when you do things in fresh, unexpected ways. To this end, try wearing your watch on the opposite wrist. For dinner, eat your dessert first and your salad last. Try a new genre of music or pick up a magazine that you'd ordinarily never consider. Even the smallest changes can elevate your creative output.

In a recent study, researchers split a group of 68 participants into two groups. Each group was instructed to slowly eat a bag of popcorn, but one group was asked to do so using chopsticks. At the end of the experiment, the chopsticks-using group reported a significantly higher level of enjoyment than their traditional counterparts. The simple change in procedure yielded a big boost to their happiness.

Musician and poet Tuli Kupferberg famously said, "When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." So let's change up our routines in order to unlock both creativity and happiness. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand. Reverse the order of your daily chores. Watch a brand-new TV show. Order something new from the menu.

And don't forget the chopsticks.


This post appeared first on Josh Linkner's website.

Josh Linkner

Want Josh Linkner for your next event?

Find out more information, including fees and availability.
Find Out More
Keep Reading
39 Quotes on Innovation, Creativity, and Performance
Josh Linkner
Josh Linkner
February 28, 2021
As we work to learn, grow, and thrive, let’s learn from the legends. Here are 39 of my ...
Becoming Backable
Josh Linkner
Josh Linkner
February 21, 2021
Getting someone to take a chance on you is one of the most important steps to achieving success in both business and ...
How Tiny Bubbles Led to a $28 Billion Cost Savings
Josh Linkner
Josh Linkner
February 14, 2021
Each year, over 50,000 large vessels travel the oceans to move people and cargo through ...
39 Quotes on Innovation, Creativity, and Performance
As we work to learn, grow, and thrive, let’s learn from the legends. Here are 39 of my favorite quotations from the giants of business, art, music, and innovation. I hope you guzzle and share these powerful nuggets of wisdom… The post 39 Quotes on Innovation, Creativity, and Performance appeared first on Josh Linkner.
Read More
Becoming Backable
Getting someone to take a chance on you is one of the most important steps to achieving success in both business and life. Yet mastering the art of persuasion is often overlooked and misunderstood. Alexander Fleming, the inventor of penicillin, was especially bad at communicating his discovery, despite it being one of the most important scien...
Read More
How Tiny Bubbles Led to a $28 Billion Cost Savings
Each year, over 50,000 large vessels travel the oceans to move people and cargo through the turbulent seas. While a solid ship gliding through malleable water should be well smooth sailing, it turns out that intersection between vessel and water is anything but smooth. As the giant metal structures plow through the ocean, friction and drag are...
Read More
This Dish Isn't Very Good
As consumers, we're besieged with puffery. Brands shout at us, boasting they have New York's #1 pizza, the world's best coffee, America's favorite car, or the best blue jeans in the universe. But these hollow claims fall flat with our exceptionally well-developed BS detectors. In sharp contrast, one creative restaurateur took the opposite app...
Read More
What Everyday Innovators Can Learn From Fresh Salsa
Words like 'innovation' and 'disruption' can feel overwhelming and out of reach. Too often, we think an idea must change the world or have a billion-dollar value in order to count. Instead of establishing an impossibly high minimum threshold, let's think of innovation more like fresh, delicious salsa: mild, medium, and spicy. A flavor option for...
Read More
Innovation Swapping
Behind only water, concrete is the second-most used material on our planet. It's low cost, durable, and beneficial in a variety of construction applications. As our population continues to swell, demand is expected to skyrocket. But there's a problem. As useful as concrete may be, the production of this sturdy material is responsible for eight p...
Read More
Boost Results With Rule 105
In our professional lives, our days consist of delivering value in one form or another. Depending on your craft, your deliverables may take the form of a research report, sales presentation, prospecting outreach, email response, customer interaction, financial model, or a legal brief. Or maybe you build handmade wooden furniture, corned beef san...
Read More
What We Can Learn From The Relics of the Past
I tend to get reflective at the start of each new year. I was thinking how different our lives were just 10 years ago, and those differences were striking: Ten years ago, we still thought Zoom was a verb. Plastic straws seemed totally fine, and teenagers smoked instead of vaped. There was no DoorDash, Shipt, GrubHub or Instacart; no Uber or Lyft...
Read More
Let It Go
Queen Elsa, the lead character in Disney's smash hit Frozen, was haunted by her past. As the plot unfolds, she gains the courage to let go of her previously held beliefs in order to break free and discover her true self, culminating in one of the movie's most memorable songs, Let it Go. As we enter 2021, I can't think of a better mantra for u...
Read More
The Innovative Connection Between a Children's Hospital and the Ferrari F-1 Pit Crew
The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children is one of London's most respected healthcare institutions. Despite their long history of success, hospital leaders wanted to explore new ways to improve patient safety and decrease medical errors. In their efforts to deliver the best possible outcomes, they turned to a surprising source of inspiratio...
Read More