Create out loud

with Jennifer Louden

11 | Annie Murphy Paul: Optimize Your Mind, Body, and Space for Peak Creativity

Show Notes

In this episode:

  • How acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul’s book, The Extended Mind, may shift your relationship with your creativity and your brain forever
  • The myth of our “brain” being our “mind.”
  • How movement and space affect the way we think
  • How to optimize our creativity with practical strategies
  • Why grit and the growth mindset aren’t enough
  • Why our brain is NOT a computer
  • Download the extended list of takeaways here.

Get a copy of Annie’s book here: Amazon | Bookshop


Annie Murphy Paul is one of the most acclaimed science writers working today, and her most recent book, The Extended Mind, may fundamentally shift your relationship with your creativity and your brain.

The Extended Mind is all about how our minds are not brain bound and by understanding all the ways we can – and must! – extend our minds beyond our brains, we can learn to work with the challenges of modern life in entirely new ways.

For more, check out this NYTimes article.

A couple of hints from the show:

  • It’s good to fidget!
  • The spaces you work in affect how you think!
  • Your brain needs nature.

Annie started this project intending to write a book about the learning, only to discover the real action was elsewhere.

She delves into an idea that stemmed from a seminal work in philosophy on “the extended mind” and explores what our bodies are telling us.

“The idea is that in our culture, we imagine that thinking happens inside the head, that it’s the brain that does the thinking…Actually, the mind extends beyond the head, it actually incorporates all these extra neural resources, outside of the brain — resources, like our bodies, like the spaces in which we learn and work, like our relationships with other people… or the example that’s easiest to understand is our devices…It’s such a liberating idea, once you really start seeing that the mind is way bigger than just the head. It incorporates all these other resources and allows the brain to do things that it couldn’t do on its own; it allows the brain to kind of over achieve.”

Learning about the role of interoception — gut feelings — paying attention to, taking care of, and using our body as a way to extend our mind was extraordinary for me. Because I need to move!

So much of this I have known intuitively and included in my work in different ways, and in my own creative process. But to read the research behind it and all the different ways that Annie gives us to work with the body— it’s been a game changer for me! I hope it is for you after listening to her.

We talk about how our bodily feelings are the building blocks of emotion, and how by connecting with bodily sensations we can make those feelings more useful. Butterflies before it’s your turn to speak? Thank your body for letting you know how excited you are.

She busts the myth that our brains are like computers, and talks about how this analogy leaves out all the things that make us human, which are the wellsprings of our creativity.

We discuss how the spaces we work in affect how you think and your creativity. We need a sense of ownership of our space and privacy to feel safe to create.

She explains what we get wrong about imitation in learning, which touches on something I’m obsessed with – toxic originality. Imitation helps us master our craft so fresh ideas can emerge.

We even go into what the pandemic has revealed to so many of us when it comes to how we think and operate.
“We’ve all been like brains in front of screens for like 14 months…and I think it’s maybe given us a sense of how very limiting that is and how much we’re missing. When we miss out on bodily movements, on going to stimulating places, instead just staying in our same old houses. We have an amazing opportunity now that the pandemic is receding, we can embrace all these incredible resources that are available to us again — seeing people in person and having that electric kind of interaction that just doesn’t happen when you’re on a screen, the natural stuff. “

This, and so much more…

I don’t want to give it all away here because Annie has so much good stuff to share, and I hope you’ll go listen.

Join me as we discover how Annie Murphy Paul creates out loud.

Visit to get instant access to a collection of audios that will

  • help you with some of the most common struggles we creatives have to manage including fear of choosing,
  • falling into compare and despair, managing the inner critic (s),
  • and feeling too exposed and vulnerable when you put yourself or your work into the world.

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