What is creativity and why should we care?
Maybe you believe that you have little or no artistic talent. Perhaps in the past, you have been told you lack creativity by a parent or teacher. It may be that you are someone who is naturally creative, and you want to develop better habits and even greater skills. Wherever you are on the scale of creativity, taking up a new creative habit will take you into a deeper level of personal and creative transformation. Along the way, you will practice the daily habits that highly creative people have cultivated, habits that will allow you to unleash your full creative potential. And you will soon see the positive impact this has on your everyday life, including your career, health and relationships.
WE ALL HAVE THE POWER TO BE CREATIVE
According to Adobe’s State of Create global benchmark study (based on 5,000 adults from the US, Europe and Japan), only one in four people believe they are living up to their own creative potential, and four in ten people believe that they do not have the tools or access to the tools to create.
The problem that Sir Ken Robinson explored – bestselling author, TED speaker, education and creativity expert – in his TED talk, ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’, is that traditional educational systems are not designed to support students in developing their natural creative powers. Instead, education systems generally tend to encourage uniformity in thinking, with a focus on learning facts and standardised tests measured by simple right and wrong answers. There is little focus on creative enterprise or building emotional intelligence. The result is that we are draining people of their creative possibilities and producing a workforce that is conditioned to prioritise conformity over creativity. We can all see this in our own families where we have younger ones in the school system. The joy of learning has gone in favour of learning facts and passing exams.
I believe that everyone is creative: all human beings have the power to connect to a stream of creativity and find happiness and fulfilment in the process. It doesn’t matter if you want to become a writer, singer, musician, artist or designer – or indeed none of these things. Whatever you want to pursue is possible with the right positive belief systems and a step-by-step approach like the one you are about to embark on.
You already have what it takes to develop your own unique curiosity and creative instinct. The treasure lives within, and you hold the key to accessing a more creative life in your hands right now. Let’s demystify the concept and define what is meant by ‘creativity’.
WHAT IS CREATIVITY?
The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
People often think of creativity as making something, yet the true application of the concept goes far deeper. The word creativity is derived from the Latin word creatus, which means ‘to have grown’.
Ultimately, creativity means different things to different people. For the purposes of this book, it includes the broadest range of artistic and mind-enhancing pursuits, from writing, drawing, painting and singing to teaching, cooking, photography, acting, designing and creative problem solving.
Close your eyes and think of the last time an exciting idea came to you or when you found a solution to a problem that had been bothering you. Remember how it felt in that moment: the adrenaline rush, the increased heart rate, the prickly feeling on the back of your neck. Perhaps you sat up straighter in your chair, smiled or clapped your hands in delight. This is what’s called a ‘lightbulb moment’; in other words, a moment when you accessed that deep well of creativity inside yourself and enjoyed the rush of good feelings that arose as a result.
From that moment on, it might have felt like you were on a roll: perhaps you got a call from someone connected with the idea and experienced a sixth sense that things were lining up, that everything was falling into place and you were somehow on track. This was the beginning of the state known as being in ‘flow’.
In his book Finding Flow, psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi defines ‘flow’ as an ‘optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best’. More simply, ‘flow’ is the mental state of being totally immersed in a task. It’s the place we occupy when we lose track of time and sense of the outside world. External distractions become less important. The flow space can feel like it is somehow not governed by time. But accessing the flow state is easier said than done, so this is something we will explore on this journey together.
WHY IS CREATIVITY IMPORTANT?
Art and creativity have played a central part in the development of cultures from the beginning of humanity. From the first caveman paintings to the great pyramids of Egypt, modern art and architecture, art represents the pinnacle of human endeavour and captures the ideas that travel across countries and generations. Art unites people irrespective of race, religion, age, language or politics. It creates an energy, a shared emotional experience that connects people.
The stress of modern living – our fast-paced lifestyles, the constant stimuli and interruptions, being continually ‘on’ and ‘connected’ – all of these things play havoc with our ability to tap into that inner creative well in a natural way. In this busy world, our free time is squeezed so tightly that we don’t make time or space for our creative side to be expressed. However, we must allow some creative flow in life if we want to feel completely fulfilled and happy. Living creatively is about living life as an exciting journey and seeing simple, everyday things in unique ways.
Creativity has never been more important for the world than it is today. We live in a time in which data is generated daily in vast quantities and broadcast globally and instantly. What we need are the tools to interpret information intuitively and creatively in order to innovate, develop and filter through the noise to focus on what is most important while ignoring the rest. Creative problem solving allows us to redefine problems as opportunities and identify innovative solutions that lead to great success. We need creativity more than ever right now.
With the enforced lockdown millions are experiencing around the globe right now, there has never been a great time to get focussed and get immersed in all those creative projects we have putting off.
Whether we have always wanted to write a book, start drawing or sculpting, painting, making music or starting a craft. This is the time. Get involved and use your time well right now. There may never be a more relevant and powerful time as now to get going.
Get creative, get happier and get immersed in the flow.