Everyone has the ability to be creative. Being creative, or having creativity doesn’t mean you have to excel in the arts, it’s so much more than that. It’s about how we look for solutions to problems, our flashes of inspiration and our ability to come up with fresh ideas. We are all creative beings.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun” Albert Einstein
What is creativity?
According to the dictionary, creativity is our inventiveness and our ability to use our imagination and transform our original thoughts and ideas into reality.
And believe it or not, we are all born with this gift, this capacity to imagine the unimaginable. Our imagination helps us review the past and picture the future by connecting unrelated things.
As we grow older though, for many of us, outside influences squash our creativity flat. This is because society itself champions logical thinking and has pigeon-holed creativity and the art of being creative to artists, writers and musicians.
A 1968 study by George Land tested 1,600 five-year-olds to see how creative they were. It revealed that 98% of them were effectively creative geniuses. The test was repeated on the same 1,600 children when they were 10 and 15 years old, and showed how the children’s’ creativeness dropped significantly over time.
5 year olds: 98% creative
10 year olds: 30% creative
15 year olds: 12% creative
A further group of 280,000 adults took part in the same test. That revealed that only 2% of adults were creative, which proved that non-creative behaviour is learned. And if it can be learned, then it can be unlearned!
4 ways to boost your creativity
“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” D.W. Winnicott
Play feeds creativity. Remember when you were little, you would have no problem finding creative ways to relieve the boredom during six weeks of the summer holiday. Good ideas would rain down on us like a summer shower.
So put your imagination to work and look at the world and the people around you with a child’s eye and relearn your ability to create new worlds, just like you did in summers gone by. Learning how to play again will help you reclaim your creativity.
Give yourself permission to get bored, contemplate and dream more. Take time to switch off from your daily routine, maybe listen to some music, sit in the garden or a comfy chair and just let your thoughts wander.
Simply switching off will help your brain relax which will help create neural connections and let the creative thoughts flow.
All ideas are good ideas until proven otherwise, and creativity is affected by your mood. When we’re happy we tend to be more creative.
Don’t ever doubt yourself or your abilities. If you can practice self-compassion rather than self-judgment that’s half the battle won. Resist the urge to doubt your creative thoughts and ideas. Invest in a journal and capture every single creative thought, idea, urge and flashes of inspiration that you have. They may not feel that creative at the moment but they may be the spark that lights the fire.
Try some divergent thinking
Do you roll your eyes when the boss mentions brainstorming or mind-mapping?
Did you know that these are common divergent activities? Asking open-ended questions, those that can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, helps us access our ability to think creatively and come up with new ideas.
So next time you have to go to a brainstorming session, clear your mind and let your imagination flow.
COVID-19 lockdown helped creativity blossom!
From creating TikTok videos to setting up local cooperatives to producing PPE equipment for the NHS, creativity has come to the forefront during the recent lockdown.
Stuck at home, people have had to let their imagination run wild and think ‘outside the box’ to come up with ways to keep occupied, keep in touch with friends and family, entertain the children and, in some cases earn some money.
What’s the most creative thing you’ve witnessed or done during lockdown?
In the end, creativity boils down to nothing more than our brain processing and creating new thoughts. So we should all give ourselves permission to unleash our creative genius. As Einstein said, it really is our intelligence having fun.