Creativity can enliven your spirit, and solve a few problems!
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun — Mary Lou Cook
It’s ok if you don’t know who Mary Lou Cook is. I had to Google her myself when I came across this wonderful quote, lest I’m highlighting the sayings of a cult leader or someone with questionable motives. (She’s an actress from the mid-1900s so we’re good there. And yes, I did write the “mid-1900s” — isn’t that how all the kids say it these days?)
Creativity sounds a lot like life. And many of us need more life in our lives. That’s where creativity comes into play. Creativity comes in numerous forms and while you may think you weren’t born with an ounce of creativity, you’re in for a treat!
We all have the ability to be creative.
That’s right, even YOU! Because creativity isn’t lightning in a bottle — it’s not given to a lucky few and the rest of us are left to live a one-dimensional, monotone existence.
Creativity is 10% talent (if that!) and 90% hard work (if not more than that.)
Yes, it’s work to be creative. Writers don’t have magical fingers that produce words that dance on a page, and artists don’t use magical paintbrushes. Ask any creator and they’ll tell you they’re terrible. Even the great ones had serious doubts about their creative genius.
Their “talents” are backed by hours of ruminating over an idea, working it out, coming at things from different angles, and listening to their gut.
That’s hard work. And there’s more because, on top of all that, stands their inner critic, with wings spread like an eagle ready to attack. And attack its prey — their hopes and dreams and aspirations — is does so relentlessly, day in, day out.
Many of us aren’t up for the task, and can only handle so much from our inner critic. That’s one of the reasons why creativity lessens with age.
But the more creative you are, the more chances you give yourself to flex those muscles, the better you’re going to get at it. You cultivate your talents when you let yourself get messy in the creative process.
If you’re stuck, and a lot of us are, or you feel you were not blessed with the “talent”, here are a few suggestions to help you invent, experiment, grow, take risks, break rules, make mistakes and have fun:
Ask different questions when the same old problem keeps resurfacing.
Creativity is also linked to problem-solving. When a problem you’ve been struggling with keeps coming at you, try taking it on from a different angle.
The creative process to problem-solving looks like this:
Step 1. Clarify what the exact problem is. I happen to have the perfect example for this. Just today, as I was doing research on being creative, I came across an article that touted the benefits of learning a new language, especially as the brain ages. Now both my parents have suffered from memory loss, giving me an invested interest in doing all I can to stay as sharp as a tack.
I’ve also been wanting to learn a new language for ages, but such is life, the farthest I ever got in the last 10 years was 6 months on Duolingo.
So, testing out my creative muscle I thought this the perfect opportunity to creatively solve this reoccurring problem once and for all.
Now with a clear picture as to what the problem is — I want to learn a language but not being able to practice what I learn with an actual person is what’s holding me back. I don’t know a lot of people who speak Italian, so that’s always been my roadblock.
I came to this realization after taking two minutes — only two minutes(!) — and asking myself, why isn’t this happening after all this time, what’s really holding me back? I never took the time to ask myself that. It was always, I should learn a new language.. I should spend more time on Duolingo… I should, I should, I should!
Clarity is amazing!
Which takes us to the next step.
Step 2: Ideate. To visualize, form an idea… basically brainstorm possible solutions.
That part is easy… Google search. Immediately all these online learning sites popped up with people from all over the world wanting to teach people new languages. I had no idea such platforms existed. I began to get excited because a lesson with a native speaker can cost you only $10 per 1-hour lesson. Sold! Plus, you can do a trial with any teacher at a lesser price.
Step 3: Develop. There’s not really much here for me to develop, except to have a plan, and an open mind, which I do because I want to learn another language with all my heart. I know it will be a good thing for me, my gut is telling me so.
And with COVID, my schedule is wide open so getting something on the calendar is easy.
Step 4: Implement. Take action. Don’t sit with it any longer, don’t walk away from the problem when a possible solution lies within arms reach. Do something!
So, as of this morning, I have a trial class set up with a woman names Alessia who lives in Italy for Tues next week.
And I’m bursting with excitement!
Now that was me solving a problem with a little creativity, which you can do too! Now if you want to dive a little deeper, and tap into some real fun power, here are two simple things you can try:
Write down 10 ideas a day — ala James Altucher.
James Altucher is an author and ex-Wall Street guy who also happens to have a very interesting podcast — I always learn something from him.
One of his highly recommended daily practices is to write down 10 ideas a day, on anything. Whatever rings your bell, come up with ideas about it.
For example, 10 ideas for a book you want to write (but your inner critic keeps telling you you’re not talented enough to pursue. Screw your inner critic!)
10 ideas for making more money. 10 ideas for a new business. 10 dream vacation ideas. You can create ideas about anything. Now some are going to be terrible and embarrassing and you’re never going to want to share them with anyone, and that’s ok, you don’t have to tell anyone.
The idea is to create ideas. That’s it. And sometimes those ideas will spark something you didn’t know what there… and the rest could be history.
You can create something. Anything.
Take a stab at knitting, painting, writing, doodling, photographing, rock painting, designing, any DIY project — in fact, come up with 10 ideas of something you can create!
Give yourself permission to try something new, even though you’re probably going to be terrible at it. But maybe you won’t. And here’s why it’s worth the effort…
Creativity is beautiful!
Creativity, to me, taps into this hidden oasis of colors that are vibrant and fluid. When I get in the flow state of writing, the feelings I have are hard to explain but there’s a lightness, and I know I’ve tapped into that sweet spot. When I’m in it, and I’m writing, time flies by. That’s when you know you tapped into something special. It’s hard to find those feelings anywhere else.
Remember, creativity isn’t innate. 10% talent, 90% hard work.
It takes time and patience, and perseverance to be creative. You have to show up and do the work and sometimes it doesn’t come. But other times, it comes and you can’t stop it. That’s the colorful oasis of creativity embracing you and taking you for a ride.
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AM Costanzo is a wellness coach, a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and loves to help people feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!