We all start our lives as creative individuals, but somewhere along the way we start to lose our ability to see things in a new light. In other words, our creativity withers and dies. If you’ve ever wished you were better at coming up with ideas, you might have wondered how this happens. Believe it or not, our school system plays a huge role in squashing creativity. It gives us a good grounding in facts and theories, but it doesn’t encourage divergent or lateral thinking skills. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are too quick to say, “Oh, I’m not a creative person!” Don’t worry, though, because you can get your creativity back. Follow the tips in this article and you’ll soon find your idea engine starting to rev.
What is creativity?
Most of us share the same basic idea about creativity. We tend to think of it as coming up with new concepts, or finding new angles in any given situation. However, it can be helpful to think of creativity as connecting various experiences together, and simply making links between them. The broader and richer your life experiences, the more dots you can join, and the more ideas you can generate. For example, a visual artist might come up with an idea for a painting based on their experience with depression (one “dot”) and their exposure to abstract painting (another “dot). The result? A highly emotive, effective piece of art.
Signs you’re a creative person
You are probably more creative than you realize. Did you know that there are subtle and not-so-subtle signs that suggest you might be an especially creative person? For example, if you like to wear outlandish socks, you are in good company. Research shows that those favoring this kind of footwear are more brilliant, creative and successful than those who stick with regulation black and navy. Your moods and mental health are also clues. Depression may be a terrible, crippling experience, but scientists have found a link between depression and creativity. Specifically, creative people tend to see the world in way that differs from the norm, and can see a myriad of possibilities and shades of gray. This can trigger a sense of being overwhelmed by the outside world. Finally, those who stay up and get up late are more likely than early risers to be more creative. If you tend to hit the snooze button repeatedly, it may just be because you are more creative than average!
Can we train ourselves to be more creative?
In short, yes! If you don’t understand that creativity is the ability to join up two or more experiences, and that this is a skill that can be learned, you may conclude that some people are simply born more creative than others. Worse, this belief can even become an excuse for not trying. After all, if you are either born creative or you aren’t, there’s no point in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The truth is simple – when you commit to becoming a better problem-solver and force yourself to look at the world in a new light, you will inevitably become more creative as long as you are willing to make the effort.
How to largely boost your creativity
If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know quite how to begin restoring your creativity, try a simple two-word exercise that will remind you how brilliant you are at making new links and associations between two concepts! Another way to ease yourself back into a creative mindset is to appreciate the work of others. Read a short story, listen to an inspiring piece of music, or look at some mind-bending paintings. There are literally dozens of ways to fuel your creativity. If the first few techniques you try don’t work for you, experiment with something else. You might need to do some inner work first, because fear can be a big barrier to trying new things. A fear of failure is common, because we have been raised in such an achievement-oriented society. If this sounds familiar, why not write down what you fear will happen, and how you would deal with it? For example, if you are afraid of other people labeling you “silly” or “foolish” for trying to be creative, remind yourself that you can always choose to hang out with more positive people instead!
Travel as much as possible. Remember, the more life experience you accumulate, the more creative you will become. Travel truly is an investment in yourself. Even if you can’t afford the time or money needed for a long vacation, why not take a day trip to a local attraction? Switch things up at home too. Take a new route to work, try a new sandwich for lunch, and take up a new hobby in the evenings instead of watching TV. Go outside and immerse yourself in the real world!
Finally, you can even use your negative life experiences as a basis for creative expression. You don’t have to be angst-ridden to be creative, but some of the most compelling artwork has emerged from great suffering. Identify your negative emotions,and divert them away from yourself. Solving a creative problem enables you to get into a state of “flow,” which is where the real magic happens. Lose yourself in writing, dance, painting, or any other creative pursuit that feels right to you. Remember that there are no perfect people, and that judging yourself harshly won’t help. Work on becoming a more creative person, and your overall quality of life is bound to improve. You will feel more interested in the world around you, and more accepting of your true, creative self.