Have you read Think You Aren’t Creative? Part 1: What neglecting your creativity can cost you? If not, read that first here. Before we start exercising that creativity muscle, let’s talk about some of the different ways people can be creative.
#1 To be human is to be creative.
Humans are born with an innate desire to express themselves creatively. As humans we are made with a desire to create because we were made to use that skill in our lives. We have the ability to be creative, it is inherent in us. Accessing and using our creativity, however, is a skill that can be learned and developed so that we can tap into our creativity faster, easier and with better results. I go into more why this is the case in my free Masterclass on using painting to access more joy in your life.
#2 Creativity is a tool.
You can use creativity purposefully to gain an intended result. The same is true with painting. And when you combine the two, you can get even better results. So what kinds of results are you after? And how can you use creativity to get there? I provide 5 ways with examples of how to include creativity into your current life without adding more time or cost in my free Enjoy Life with Creativity Guide.
#3 A Creative Outlook.
A creative outlook is essential for having the capacity for creativity in your life. It occurs when one’s perspective is open to the possibilities. In fact, two attributes of creative geniuses are that they: 1) see or are open to the possibility (that there are ideas out there that haven’t been thought of or conveyed and are open to change) and 2) are willing to risk (for example, risk conveying a new idea or unique idea) because they have the belief that it is okay to make mistakes, or failure is learning or that there are no wrong ideas.
One way that you can shift into a creative outlook is to approach a situation with curiosity. Get curious about what others’ perspectives are or ask yourself if there is another way to see a situation regardless of how far out there it may seem. Have a challenge in your life? Now is the time to choose a creative lens.
#4 Creative Thinking
There are multiple options when it comes to creative thinking. Many people may think of brainstorming as the quintessential example of creative thinking. While it is one example of creative thinking, there are multiple kinds, and each has its strengths/benefits and each can be applied and when used successively, can create a synergistic effect.
The results of creative thinking can involve innovation or collaboration to come up with new options, better or optimized options. Regardless of the level of complexity of a problem, creative thinking can help you find a solution whereas other kinds of thinking can help you in other stages in the process, like analytical thinking for evaluation options.
Many times the complexity of a problem may determine who is in the room to collaborate in determining the root cause and the root solution(s) and provide recommendations, but creative thinking in the form of a creative process can still be used in specific points in that process.
There are many techniques that apply creative thinking. I used and continue to use several creative thinking techniques as well as a creative process to develop my workshops, Painting that Connects and other Programs, and in my 1:1 Paint Clarity Sessions. You can learn more about them here.
#5 The Creative Process
There is a multiple step process that you can follow to tap into your creativity, with the end result being creative options that are then actioned. This process can be used to come up with creative solutions, to further develop an idea, and/or to communicate that idea, and can be followed consciously or unconsciously. I believe that “creative” people may be following this process subconsciously, at least to some extent. There are multiple phases to the creative process but most follow a similar general process.
The general flow is as follows: a problem is introduced, the problem is researched more to confirm what is the core problem. Multiple solution options are determined and developed, and weighed against each other, one solution is chosen and moved forward, that solution is designed or developed further and implemented accordingly. During that process, there are points along the path where evaluations and verification of data occur to confirm a robust solution and ensure it will work as intended.
From my experience as a development engineer, project engineer, civil and field/construction engineer on small projects to complex and large programs, the creative process can be applied to any number of projects in several stages and result in higher quality outcomes when followed pragmatically, depending on the complexity and scale of the project or program. While the process is usually considered to be linear, in some instances, there may be a recycle loop. In other cases, there may be stage gates with gatekeepers to try to ensure that a recycle loop isn’t warranted, and in some cases, the project may warrant being killed off, for a variety of reasons.
In working in a creative field, or using the creative process, one has the opportunity to develop thicker skin, to recognize that not all solutions that have been thought of will be brought forward and implemented. In order to use the creative process and not wear oneself down, one gets to learn to practice a certain level of detachment where we let our ideas out into the world but don’t get attached to the feedback about them.
When we can enjoy the creative journey, we can enjoy more parts of the journey and see the value in not all ideas progressing, as it could happen that while trying to build all of them simultaneously, none of them become fully built.
#6 Creative Approach
A creative approach is one where you have decided to incorporate creativity into your life and you start doing it. It is about not just choosing to consider creativity, but specifically about implementing it into your life. There are many areas of one’s life in which one can adopt a creative approach. In my free guide I go into 5 areas of your life, with examples in each, of how you can incorporate creativity into your life: Enjoy Life Through Creativity Guide: Easily tap into your creativity in everyday life to experience more joy consistently.
#7 What blocks creativity: Pressure, Expectations or Limits
We can block our creativity when we put pressure on ourselves to perform or when others indicate an expectation about the result like a looming deadline if it feels beyond what we can do in that moment or if the consequences of non-performance are high. When we are in a stressed state, we struggle with coming up with solutions, especially new & better solutions. We struggle because the optimal state for creativity is a state of flow.
So whether we start in a stressed state or whether while using the creative process we become stressed, if we want to harness our creativity or become more efficient in using it, we need to at minimum work on getting out of a stressful state or more optimally, shift out of stress and build the skill of getting into flow.
If we are interested in using our creativity to come up with new or unique options, we can block our ability to come up with better solutions if we tap into our creativity in the context of limits. It’s not that the end result necessarily doesn’t need to meet those limits, but coming up with a better solution may be possible and we may in the process realize that some of the limits were not actual limits and it may help us determine what limits actually exist. Sometimes just in being able to adjust the limits do we open up more, and potentially better, options.
In general, there is an expectation embedded in traditional education and society that promotes ignoring our creative needs or abilities to the extent that starting in childhood, a high percentage of children are considered creative geniuses. As we age, people show less and less creative skill. A prime example of this is shown in the study paid for by NASA in an effort to help their astronaut program.
There are some situations where creative thinking isn’t helpful – like during a spelling contest, where the rules dictate a certain spelling outcome which requires memorization, a form of critical thinking. There are reasons for that, such as wanting everyone to spell the same word the same way. But that doesn’t mean that creative thinking isn’t useful. In many cases you need both creative and non-creative thinking to solve a problem. If you relied solely on linear thinking, you may miss out on the opportunity to come up with more robust solutions. The creative process provides context for how and when to use both creative and non-creative thinking.
If you are in an educational, home or a work environment that is not incorporating creativity, such as creative thinking, it is up to you to find ways to include creativity into your life. My free guide, Enjoy Life with Creativity, can help you do that.
#8 How we can be neglecting our creativity: Neglecting Ourselves and our Creative Muscle
We are neglecting our creative needs when we don’t use our creative skill. And then we wonder why we are unhappy.
When we don’t use our creativity, we can diminish our capacity to spontaneously create, but not because we no longer have the ability, but because we are rusty in using it. As we use it more, tapping into it can get easier, and we can become faster and with less effort come up with some amazing solutions or even a better way to communicate a previously thought of solution in a way people will understand or adopt easier. Using creativity can help us feel more satisfied or fulfilled in our work, in our home, and in our relationships. Creativity can help us think on our feet better, especially if we have learned what to do when we are stressed or have practiced getting into flow.
Want to be happier? Want to be better at it? Are you choosing creativity in your life? If not, now is a great time to start.
#9 What happens when we tap into our creativity
When we tap into our creativity, we are doing what we were created to do, and we are providing value to ourselves and others. In using something we were designed to do, we are naturally happier. Creativity can help us and/or others out of a jam or help us look toward the future with hope, knowing that with creativity, more problems are solved everyday. It is important to find ways to incorporate creativity into our lives. Both for the world’s benefit as well as for ours.
#10 How we can incorporate creativity into our lives
Creativity is something we can incorporate into our lives in the midst of our everyday life. We can use it to address problems as they come up, generating creative solutions that solve the root problem better than what we have come up with before, whether in our work, in our relationships, and especially in parenting or when we have 5 ingredients for a meal in the refrigerator and don’t have time to go to the store.
We can also incorporate creativity into our art process. By doing so, we gain the benefits from both being creative and creating art as well as a host of other benefits. I purposely choose creativity and art creation in my life, and incorporate them in my painting practice, and help others to incorporate them into their lives as well through my workshops, my Painting that Connects Program and my 1:1 Paint Clarity Sessions. You can learn more about the services I provide here.
#11 Creativity is a muscle
Creativity is a muscle that we can start and continue to exercise so that we can be happier, provide the value we were created to create and tap into it easier when under pressure, and/or when it is essential. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “I recognize creativity exists in the world but I haven’t been exercising my creativity muscle” to 10 being “I use my creativity multiple times a day, it is embedded into my life”, how developed is your creativity muscle right now?
So what is the next or first step? Choosing creativity through a commitment to tapping into your creativity. You can choose creativity before you choose what it looks like. That really is the first step into your first, or next, creative adventure.
Do you wonder whether you have time to or how to incorporate creativity into your life? You can add in creativity without adding more time just by shifting the way in which you do something. Are you interested in using creativity to enhance your life? Download my free guide: Enjoy Life Through Creativity Guide: Easily tap into your creativity in everyday life to experience more joy consistently.