What is Creativity?

What is Creativity? 10 Ways on How to Become More Creative

“We’re all creative, it’s just some of us earn our living by being so.”  ― John HegartyHegarty on Advertising

People often wonder where creativity comes from.

What is creativity?

How can an ordinary person become a creative one?

Creativity isn’t about a new age, hipster, or beatnik look or lifestyle; you don’t have to don a new personality or even learn a fine art to be creative. Creativity is inherent in all of us, from the dentist that designs a perfect new smile to the house movers that know just where to put furniture to make a room beautiful.

Creativity is simply the expression of self through creation. All you have to do to be creative is to create.It could be fine art, but it could also be something that entertains people or something that simplifies life or makes it better or more interesting. It could be the creation of something that defines new ways of doing or thinking about things.

Making just a few simple changes to your outlook and adding a few simple practices can radically bring out your creative side.

1. Stop thinking and start feeling

When you get caught up in your head overthinking an idea you can kill it by worrying about the ifs and buts too much. While thinking is necessary for exploring the idea and seeing it in the right context and arriving at the best conclusion for how to express it, it is equally, or sometimes even more important to listen to your heart and gut.

Humans respond more deeply to emotion than to logic. That is true for you as the creator and for your audience as the viewers and appreciaters of your work.

If you listen to your heart and let your emotions guide you, you may end up with an end product that is better than you first imagined.

There is a school of thought that says that when you have done all of the preparations for an endeavour, if you put it aside for a while, your subconscious will continue to work on it for you so that when you come back to it, you will have better ideas and be able to finish it with ease. This brings to mind what the famous writer, James Stephens, said “What the heart knows today, the head will understand tomorrow.”

2. Tell a Story

One thing that is unique to human ability is storytelling. A good story can bring out our emotions: anger, fear, laughter, love, and pride.

Telling stories entertains us with benefits. Through well told stories we learn how to empathize and think, how to act, to learn, to socialize, and many other things that improve us.

Every vocation in this world, whether it is professional or personal, is often enhanced through storytelling. A good storyteller advances fast in their chosen endeavors. A politician doesn’t rise quickly to the top through the policies and actions he actually makes, he rises fast through the stories in his speeches; by manipulating the heartstrings of his constituents. Maybe that is a negative example, but it’s an easily recognizable one.

For a positive example, let’s look at the architects of Dubai, the people that created the world’s tallest building as not just a feat of engineering, but as a work of art – Burj Khalifa. The creators of this magnificent and beautiful structure built not just a building, but told a story – creating a history with bricks, metal, and cement.

Mr. Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties which owns the building, said: “Burj Khalifa goes beyond its imposing physical specifications. In Burj Khalifa, we see the triumph of Dubai’s vision of attaining the seemingly impossible and setting new benchmarks. It is a source of inspiration for every one of us in Emaar. The project is a declaration of the emirate’s capabilities and of the resolve of its leaders and people to work hand in hand on truly awe-inspiring projects.”

3. Leave Cynicism Behind

Cynicism may protect you from being naïve or from putting up with what you shouldn’t, but it is of no use in the creative process.

Imagine your idea as a simple dot. When new ideas come into your head about your project, whether they’re going to be used or not, that dot begins to grow; you begin to innovate. Don’t be a cynic during this process and don’t think about constraints. You don’t want to put jagged edges and holes onto your growing circle of ingenuity.

H.L. Menken defined a cynic as “a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

Yes, during the creative process you will find that some of your ideas will work well and some won’t, but think of it as organization – don’t judge the ideas that you leave behind harshly. Even though they didn’t work, they helped you fully form your final idea.

4. Observe the world around you AND the world at large

We often get caught up in our own worlds and don’t notice and think about other aspects of life outside of our own interests. The next time you’re roaming around a gallery or are viewing some other event or element of creativity, look closely at the other worlds you are being mentally and emotionally exposed to.

You could take it one step further and do this purposefully. Say you’re a scientist – explore a cathedral or other center of religion and consider the reverence people have for the unknown. An economist might listen to a symphony and listen to the musical side of mathematics. Explore things that outside your usual sphere of influence. Keep delving into things you are unfamiliar with so that you round out your experiences and move in the direction of a holistic world view.

Staying abreast of what is happening in the world around us gives us connections to many ideas and the people that create them or create from them. This will only enhance your own creativity.

5. Reflect

Do you take a moment each day, consciously or unconsciously, to daydream or reflect?

Each of us has guiding principles and philosophies that shape our outlook on life. These principles and philosophies help us answer questions about our happiness and what excites us. If your principles or philosophies are unformed or are lacking, take steps to fill them out and help them take shape. It may happen that in the process of creation, you will have epiphanies and a new viewpoint will be born out of it.

Assessing the value of what we have done or what we are now doing gives us insight into how we or our creations help ourselves, help others, and help the world. Taking a moment out of our fast and busy lives to assess the value of our viewpoints and our creations is important.

6. Brush up on your skills

Maybe you’ve become bogged down by day to day life and you haven’t picked up the tools of creation for a few months, years, or decades. Sometimes when this happens we are hesitant to create again, thinking that we just don’t have what we used to so it’s useless to begin again.

Don’t let such an attitude hinder you from creation. Pick it back up and practice. They say practice makes perfect, and it’s true. Perfection doesn’t have to be a nearly photorealistic representation of something real – many people think that Van Gogh’s A Starry Night is perfection, yet he left bits of canvas showing through. Present day high school art teachers would have a fit if one of their students did that, but it’s one of the most beloved images of all time. Perfection is the beautiful representation of what made the artist’s heart beat with emotion.

While you’re brushing up on skills you have or once had, go ahead and learn something new. Tip toe out of your comfort zone and experiment. If you’ve always sculpted ballerinas with clay, try something radical like entering a beach side sand sculpting contest. If you learned classical piano as a child, experiment with the chords and beats used in rock music. Try something different.

7. Use your hands whenever you can

Our hands don’t get much use in this modern world. We have dishwashers that take away the slippery soapy experience of cleaning dishes, keyboards that have replaced the familiar scratch of pencil on paper, and some people don’t even have to move their wrist to brush their teeth now that electric toothbrushes are available at home.

Have you ever heard of body memory? It’s the phenomenon by which you turn toward home while driving without even thinking or how you can get lost in thought while doing mundane tasks but still perform them perfectly without thinking.

Using your hands to do things also does something else to your brain. It’s been shown that in the act of putting words on paper with a pen or pencil makes your brain think that you’ve actually spoken the words aloud to a person. Therapists use this trick of the mind to help people cope with their personal issues with others by writing letters they won’t send. The mind gets the same release it would if the words were actually spoken to the other person.

Both of these strange oddities of the mind can be used to make you more creative if you use your hands to do familiar or new things. When you’re doodling or writing in a diary, do something a little different each time. You’re practicing the body memory you already have and you also creating new ones.

Use doodling, writing, or any hand use dependent art to express your inner thoughts and feelings. This doesn’t have to be for show, it can be just for yourself, but you’ll be surprised at how much satisfaction you’ll get out of seeing your ideas form in the tangible world. Even playing in the dirt, finger painting, or the way you wash your car can be outlets of playing with creativity through the use of your hands.

8. Collaborate

Getting together with another person to create something will expand your creative horizons. Sharing ideas, methods, and materials will give you the opportunity to work in ways you haven’t before and each of your thoughts will spark great ideas in each other’s minds. You can mix and match your life experiences, knowledge, and talents to create a great story.

9. Stay positive

Don’t let your ego sway you.

There are two ways your own perception of self can hinder you. Either your ego says to you that you’re not good enough, which could keep you from expanding your talents, or your ego to say to you that you’re the best, which could cause you to not want to expand your abilities. Either way – don’t let it control you. Stay positive about the creative process, but don’t get too carried away.

10. Keep it simple

Complexity can destroy the very essence of your ideas. Imagine that a florist is going to put together a bouquet of roses together. Now imagine that she uses 12 different colors of rose and then puts them in a vase covered in a complicated geometric pattern of various colors. It’s overkill.

Trust the idea to form itself with your help and don’t overthink it.

Expanding your experiences will encourage you to embrace life and live it fully. These ten acts will not only enhance what you create, they will help you to create a life that resonates with vitality and inspiration.

What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts

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