How To Develop And Cultivate Greater Creativity In Your Life
Have you ever listened to a three-year old tell a story or witnessed them playing with their toys? They often tap into an imaginary world without limits or traditional logic. They see endless possibilities that span way outside the box or “reality”. We all began life this way as creative children with an expansive imagination.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” ~ Pablo Picasso
Although, we all might not be Pablo Picasso or Einstein we could still find endless possibilities in a box of Lego or with Play Do. If we begin life with so much creativity what happens? Where does it go, and can we get it back?
One of the reasons our creativity gets buried is it not very valued within our western school systems. The public school system runs on an industrial factory-like model that places youth inboxes and puts them through standardized tests and taught from a one-size-fits-all paradigm. This environment leaves little room for discovery, passion, imagination and problem-solving. Although we live in a culture that does not foster our creativity it does not mean it is lost, just buried and just waiting for you to access it again.
Many people will profess that they are not creative, that they can hardly draw a stick person, but creativity is so much more than that. It does not have to be constrained to artistic rigidity it is not about being “good” at it but rather just using your imagination and coming up with original ideas. Creativity is different from an inborn talent and research has shown it can be cultivated and trained.
What is Creativity?
There is no clear consensus on the definition of creativity. It is a complex and tricky concept to capture. There are different forms of creativity and it can present itself in different ways in different people. There is some consensus that it often solves a problem or creates new things in novel ways.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a positive psychologists and author of the book, Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery defines this concept, “Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives… most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the result of creativity… [and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of our life”.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that we see people being creative when they:
· Have a number of interesting and stimulating variety of unusual thoughts
· Perceive the world through different perspectives and have insightful ideas and are able to make important personal discoveries.
· Certain people that make great creative achievements that become known to the world. Artists and inventors like Pablo Picasso and Thomas Edison.
Creative expression can be used when you solve problems, make a smart decision, brainstorm, cook, the way you talk, your mannerisms, the way you move, how you dress, tell jokes, how you treat others, it can even be used in mundane things like how you organize or remember things.
Expanding ones understanding and definition of creativity might help you begin to cultivate more of it in your life. Here are some ways you can begin building your creativity muscle.
Record New Ideas
Reconnect yourself in a creative way. Spend time checking in and begin writing down and recording your throughs and ideas. Let yourself brainstorm and come up with new and alternative ways of thinking about your challenges and opportunities in your life.
Don’t self-edit as you write just let it flow out of you even if it does not make sense and evaluate your ideas after.
Give yourself enough time, often your energy will dip after your first burst of ideas, wait and let your brain come to another breakthrough to push your creative edge.
Personalize your space so it feels inspiring. Your environment impacts your happiness, mental state and ability to create more then you realize. Spending time outside has also been linked to creativity along with stress reduction and improved memory. Take your journal on a hike with you or to the beach.
Always keep a journal and pen. Allow yourself time to record your thoughts, impulses and out of the box thinking and watch your imagination expand with new possibilities.
Try New Things and Ways of Thinking
Encourage yourself to try new things, to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try a dance class, pick up a camera, sing or create music, draw, write, paint. Spend time creating new things to help cultivate creativity. It is not about it being "good" it is more about the journey then it is the outcome.
Try thinking in new ways, to see the connection between things and the interesting patterns that exist around you. Notice how people impact each other and how they interact with each other and their environment. Becoming aware of these different relationships between things helps to fuel the creative process.
Make it A Habit
The more time to commit to being creative the more access you will have to it. Work to infuse creativity into your life and do activities that help to prime your brain for creative thinking such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, reading, listening to podcasts.
Surrounding yourself with people who inspire you is an important part of building creativity. Allow yourself to be curious about your life and those around you. Curiosity ignites our creativity and fuels innovative thoughts.