Grasping Inspiration: The Power of Hands Holding Things

Have you ever found yourself feeling uninspired and stuck in a creative rut? Maybe you’ve stared blankly at a page or screen for hours on end, hoping for an idea to magically appear. Well, it’s time to take matters into your own hands – literally! The simple act of holding objects can have a profound effect on our brains and spark new ideas. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating science behind why grasping inspiration with our hands might be the key to unlocking our most innovative thoughts.

A Fistful of Creativity

Let’s start by examining how exactly grasping objects affects our brain activity. When we hold something in our hand, signals are sent through the nerves from the fingers up to the somatosensory cortex – that’s fancy-talk for the part of our brain responsible for processing physical sensations. These signals activate neurons associated with motor planning and action preparation, which can actually stimulate creative thinking.

Furthermore, studies have shown that people perform better on tasks requiring creativity when they’re physically interacting with objects versus just visualizing them mentally. So next time you’re struggling with writer’s block or artistic stagnation, try picking up a pen or paintbrush and feel those neurons firing!

Objects of Inspiration

Of course not all objects are created equal when it comes to inspiring creativity. Here are some examples of items that have been shown to boost cognitive function:

Fidget Toys:

You know those little toys like spinners or bendy figures that people use as stress relievers? Turns out they might also help generate ideas! One study asked participants to come up with as many uses as possible for common household objects while either playing with a fidget toy or simply sitting still. Those who were fiddling came up with more unique ideas than their non-fidgeting counterparts.

Natural Materials:

Nature has always been a wellspring of artistic inspiration, and it turns out even just holding natural materials can facilitate creativity. Touching materials like wood, stone or feathers has been shown to increase divergent thinking – that is, generating multiple ideas from a single prompt.

Unusual Items:

Sometimes the mere act of engaging with something weird or unusual can jolt your brain into fresh territory. Think outside-the-box objects like toys from your childhood, random trinkets found at thrift stores or even food items (c’mon we’ve all made potato stamps at some point).

Hands-On Activities

So now you know what kinds of things to grasp…but what do you actually do with them? Here are some fun activities you can try that involve using your hands:

Drawing & Sketching:

Okay this one may seem obvious but hear me out! Even if you don’t consider yourself traditionally “artistic,” simply doodling while looking at an object can help stimulate creative associations. Plus it’s just generally enjoyable!


Working in three dimensions rather than two opens up a whole new world of possibilities for tapping into imaginative realms. Don’t worry if you don’t have access to fancy sculptural tools – anything pliable will work: clay, play-dough, mashed potatoes…

Collage & Assemblage:

Cutting and pasting images together allows for endless combinations and juxtapositions, which in turn spur novel connections between visual concepts.

Embodied Inspiration

Another way our physical bodies contribute to our creativity is through embodiment theory – the idea that our thoughts are heavily influenced by the sensations we experience internally when moving around in space. This is why dancing or exercise can feel so liberatingly inspiring – they activate different neural pathways than say sitting still does.

Body Poses:

Even simpler though is striking certain poses with your body while contemplating an issue. One study asked participants to either sit slouched or sit up straight while brainstorming ideas. Those who sat upright generated more original concepts.


Strolling through nature or just around the block has long been championed as a mood-booster, but it turns out it also helps generate novel connections in our brains. One study found that participants who walked for 8 minutes prior to engaging in creative tasks had better divergent thinking skills than those who remained seated.

Spatial Memory Tricks:

This one’s a bit sneakier – try associating specific spaces with certain creative prompts. For example, if you’re working on a painting of a sunset scene, always do so while sitting by your living room window facing westward so that just being in that space will trigger more idea generation.

The Touchy-Feely Takeaway

So what’s the big takeaway from all this? Basically put things in your hands and start playing around! Whether it’s doodling mindlessly with a pen or building elaborate sculptures out of tinfoil, actively engaging with physical objects can prompt new neural connections and inspire us to think outside of our usual thought patterns. So go forth and get grabby!

Note: Remember to wash hands thoroughly before and after inspirations-enhancing activities to avoid spreading germs!

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