As a crafter, I often hear “you’re so creative! I could never do_____!” Of course, I always thank the commenter, but honestly, what I do isn’t terribly difficult. Oh, it takes some skills, most of which can be learned simply by doing them. But what I enjoy most is the creative process that is involved. I love the problem solving, the need to “think out of the box,” to get something done. The creative thinking (not doing) that is required.
What is Creativity?
The root word for “Creativity” actually means “to grow.” And human beings are inherently creative; from the earliest of our days we seek answers and solutions to our problems. You can watch a young child at play, and almost see the little wheels turning in their heads.
Once when my oldest son was very little, he wanted to get to the dog at his aunt’s house. He had been staring intently at the dog for a while, doing cute baby things to try and get the mutt’s attention, but to no avail. His solution was to simply get up and walk until he could fall on the dog; his first steps spurred on by creative problem solving!
I think in some ways, creativity is seen as the realm of the child. How we praise our kid’s creative efforts, and proudly display their doodles and paintings and clay ashtrays all over our homes. Sadly, as we get older, creativity seems to be less desirable, and things like good grades, athletic ability, or a good work ethic become the things that earn us praise, and creativity falls by the wayside. But creativity isn’t just about artistic pursuits, and that’s where our cultural norms fail us. Creativity is the art of living a life of inquiry; of seeing the extraordinary in everyday things, and taking the time to appreciate them. It means not following the path in the ruts left behind by others, but to always be seeking something new, or better, or more efficient. In our work-a-day world, creativity can help us overcome barriers to our work, and propel us to excellence. It can infuse even a routine job with energy, and make a demanding job easier to do. Creativity is seeing difficulties as opportunities to excel, not roadblocks to work around. It’s not surprising that some of the most successful thinkers in history were also astoundingly creative (think DaVinci!) Creativity expands our understanding of the possible, and in doing so leads us to new ways of problem solving. It gives joy to life!
How to grow and nurture your creativity
- Surround yourself with things that inspire you. Go beyond the pic-of-the-kids-on-your-desk. Don’t worry that someone else may not like, make your work space and your home a haven of creative inspiration. Use texture and lighting and color in your workplace to make it a place where your creative juices can flow!
- Step outside of your routine. If lunch everyday is a drive thru meal on the way to pick up the dry cleaning, no wonder you don’t feel creative! Pack a lunch and eat in a park, or somewhere outside and enjoy the breeze, the birds, even the sounds of traffic. The hospital I work in has a patio area that has multi-level planters. The walls are perfect for sitting on, and its off the beaten path a bit. Perfect place to re-energize and soak up some inspiration.
- Try something new. Go kayaking, its easier than you think! Take a class on something that interests you. Try a new restaurant. Take a road trip. Don’t live a life of routine, it’s boring and uninspiring.
- Day Dream. Regularly.
- Don’t be your own worst critic. Your creative endeavors may not win ribbons or accolades, but that really isn’t the point. Do it because you love it. If others love it too, then that’s cool, but if not, so what?
- Journal if that works for you. Take the time to observe people and things, and write down those observations. Or do a photo journal by snapping pics of interesting things you see. A great, creative use of a smart phone!
- Share activities with like-minded friends. It’s fun do things with friends, and now you have another good reason to make the effort.
- Dress wildly. Use texture and colors. Buy a funky hat, or blingy shoes. Don’t be age appropriate.
- Don’t be afraid to fail! Post-it notes and Corning Ware were both “failures” that have become ubiquitous in our world. What would we do without post it notes?? Sometimes failure is just a path to a different success!
- Just do it! Creativity is just like a muscle; use it or lose it! Dance, draw, brainstorm, color, whatever, but do something creative! It’s good for you!