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You can be creative (and probably already are)

I can read your mind right now. You’re seeing that word “creative” and you’re thinking, “That’s not me. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Am I right? So I’m going to try to change your mind.

I don’t know why, but people react strongly to the label of creativity. They’re often afraid of it, or think it’s something that doesn’t apply to them, or that they’re not creative enough, as if it’s a competition.

I know for me, even though I always worked on whatever creative projects I liked, I would always strive for for some perceived level of perfection, trying to be “perfect” and if it was not complete in my mind then no one was allowed to see my own artwork. But that pursuit of “perfection” has nothing to do with being creative.

So what does creativity really mean?

To start with, it does not necessarily mean you have to be a great painter, a talented musician, or beautiful singer. Creativity is about a way of thinking and seeing (some people use the word imagination), that we apply to something new, to solve problems or to create new ways of thinking.

The thing is we all have the potential to be creative, it’s a skill just like anything else. Some people may be more naturally inclined but we have the ability to be creative.  We just need to nurture our creative spirit.

Take Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt. He may have been born with a natural athletic ability but he still had to train that ability. He had to work hard to win gold. He wasn’t born with the ability to win a gold medal. It’s the same for artists like Picasso or singers like Beyoncé. They had to put time into developing their creative pursuits; nurture them, give them light and air and attention.

Baby, you were born this way

We were all born to be creative. Some of us have just had more opportunity to embrace and explore our creative spirit, while for others, it may take a certain trigger, or life event to unlock that door.

I was fortunate to be one of those people who, from the time I was a child, was provided with lots of opportunity to explore my creative side. My encouraging parents enrolled me in art lessons from the age of six. It was there, in a safe and supportive place with a fabulous art teacher, that I learned to take chances, to create lots of not-so-pretty pieces and just play a lot with what creativity could mean. I painted most nights all through high school before I would go to bed, and it was my way of creating calm in my life. But then I became an adult.

Often because of our busy lives, and the pressures that come with being an adult, we end up spending less and less time with ourselves. That person you are deep down. Not someone’s mother, or sister, or wife, or employee; or father, or brother, or husband. But the REAL you. And we can end up feeling stale and empty, without the inspiration to feel creative. That certainly happened to me.

Good news! It’s everywhere!

And it’s most definitely inside you. The incredible thing is that creativity exists all around us, in all aspects of our lives and it’s accessible to everyone.

Whether you’re at home, in the kitchen, at work, with your family or friends. You can access your creative mind everywhere and anywhere to anything.

And it’s a renewable resource! If you feel a bit stale today, creativity will be waiting for you tomorrow. Judgement-free and ready to rock.

Why is creativity so important?

It’s creativity that makes life fun! Don’t you want to feel excited to get up everyday and look forward to something? If you are having fun, even in some small way, you start to be more of your own authentic self, you learn more to fuel your passions and worry less about what others think.

If you think some of this sounds a little airy fairy, there are also real, tangible benefits to being more creative in your life:

1. You’ll live longer

According to a Scientific American article:

“Researchers found that only creativity—not intelligence or overall openness—decreased mortality risk. One possible reason creativity is protective of health is because it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain.”

And science writer James Clear cites many studies and research that demonstrate how creating art decreases negative emotions, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves medical outcomes. Not only can being creative help you live longer, but it can improve your quality of health and life too:

“The impact of art, music, and writing can be seen in your physical body as well. In fact, this study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine used writing as a treatment for HIV patients found that writing resulted in “improvements of CD4+ lymphocyte counts.”

That’s the fancy way of saying: the act of writing actually impacted the cells inside the patient’s body and improved their immune system.

In other words, the process of creating art doesn’t just make you feel better, it also creates real, physical changes inside your body.”

2. It can help you solve problems

Being creative helps you become a better problem solver in all areas of your life and work.

In fact leading employers want to hire creative people as they tend to be more innovative and are able to address and solve problems faster and more effectively.

A creative mind approaches a problem from all angles, as opposed to linear thinking which is coming from just one direction. Creativity helps you see things through a different lens and it also equips you to deal better with the unexpected. Creative people are known to be able to live with uncertainty better because their thinking is morie fluid, and more flexible.

3. You’ll become more confident

One aspect about being creative is that you have to be more vulnerable, be willing to take risks, to sometimes operate outside the ropes. It’s a risk to try new things, to share your inner thoughts through whatever art form you choose. Through this you learn that failure and rejection is part of the process. It’s part of learning. And once you realize you can survive a little failure, you’re feel a little more invincible. It won’t be so scary to stick your neck out there and try new things. Because you know you have the skills to cope. You have the skills not only to survive, but to thrive.

 

How can I embrace creativity in my life?

My advice for this is to plan for creative time every day or every week! I know you’re going to say you’re too busy to fit this in. I told myself the same thing for long time, too! But really, if you could spend just 5 minutes daily engaging with something you enjoy, this small step is a great way to create a bit of calm and to free your mind to wander to places you didn’t think existed.

It’s really important for me to tell you that these days, it’s simplicity which inspires my creativity. I may just go for a walk and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds me. Since I’m usually rushing from place to place, I often miss just how beautiful things really are.  Another thing I do to tap into my creative mind is to listen to my record player with some of my favourite musicians. Or I love to walk slowly, I repeat, slowly, through the local market and discover other people’s creative passions.

There are no right or wrong ways to embrace creativity. However you decide, just remember that this is about you, about spending more time with yourself and feeling the impact of creativity, without judgement. If you need a little help along the way, I will be here to cheer and inspire you on the journey as you embrace your artful wander.

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