What is Creativity?
What do we envisage when we hear someone called a “very creative person”? Possibly we assume that he or she is a gifted artist or composer, or someone whose home is filled with beautifully hand-crafted objects. Maybe it sounds like this is someone we should be in awe of. Then we might compare ourselves –inevitably unfavourably , telling ourselves that we just couldn’t hope to compete , that we’re “not that creative”.
But creativity has nothing to do with competition. The etymology of the word “create” is connected with the idea of giving life – of producing something where nothing existed before. Beyond this, it has the sense of being able to transcend traditional ideas to produce something original and imaginative. In other words, to come up with something a bit different.
So we can all do this! Everyone can create a picture where there was formerly only a blank piece of paper; everyone can produce a sandwich where formerly there was only bread, butter and a few raw ingredients. And, if we give ourselves permission to, we can insure that our outcome is different from other people’s.
Remember what it was like as child when you had a pack of crayons and some paper and you had the freedom to draw and colour whatever you wanted to? Or you had some old boxes and card which you glued together to make a sculpture of your choice? You never worried what anyone else thought. But at some point we receive the idea that there’s a good and a bad way to do things and – even worse- that some people are good at this kind of thing whereas we’re not, so we should just give up trying. Maybe, like me, you can still remember hurtful comments made by teachers, classmates or family about your creative efforts! It soon became easier and less painful not to try.
But we’re all born with the capacity to be endlessly creative and it’s not something that leaves us as we get older. There are four basic aspects of creativity:
1. Think of the questions that need answers: –what’s needed or desirable here? What could be different or improved? How could the available resources be used effectively and imaginatively?
2. Generating ideas: finding solutions to problems, listing and experimenting with endless possibilities, at this point not rejecting even apparently outlandish and crazy suggestions.
3. Developing ideas: choosing favourite and most workable ideas; working out the detail; finding all the resources and checking practicalities.
4. Seeing ideas through to completion; checking that the completed project is as good as it can be. Enjoying the outcomes.
We can all do each of these four things, although some stages may come more easily than others. Approaching life in this way becomes a habit of mind which can be as useful at work to solve a niggling problem as it is pleasurable at home when you finish tiling a mosaic floor in your bathroom. Like most good things in life, this creative approach gets better with practice. Take small steps first, then feel your confidence grow.
What are the benefits of creativity?
• With a more creative open-ended approach to life, you develop a more versatile brain which may alter your whole approach to life. It could even improve your relationships as you have the capacity to explore a range of approaches to problems, which can help you understand how others feel.
• Self-expression can give you an enjoyable sense of release. A complete change from the rest of your daily activities can be refreshing and take you “out of yourself”.
• You might feel a sense of achievement from making something which you and others can enjoy in the future, which ultimately will also boost your self-esteem.
• Creative activities can relieve stress as they help you lose yourself in what you’re doing and forget anxieties. And, if unwelcome and repetitive thoughts have been intrusive, there’s also the associated benefit from doing something practical in that it helps us to forget. You can discover different sides of yourself and achieve fulfilment through creative pursuits.
So give it a try!
Once you’ve decided what you’d like to create, just let go and give yourself permission to enjoy yourself with a sense of freedom, refusing to be embarrassed about anything that’s less than perfect. You can live in the moment and experience a sense of “flow” with no need to analyse or reason with yourself about what you’re doing. You don’t need anyone’s approval; you don’t even have to share the outcomes with anyone else or seek anyone else’s opinion.
The fact that you’re enjoying yourself completely validates what you’re doing.
So just give it a go! And enjoy….
My next post will have some suggestions for creative activities you might enjoy. As always, your ideas are very welcome. Please comment below.