Theme of the Month: Creativity
What do you think of when you hear the word creativity? Does it conjure up artisan types with paintbrushes protruding from their messy bun? Perhaps you feel that to be creative you need to be good with words, pictures, arts and crafts, or something similar?
Creativity is one of my core values as it resonates with my need and passion for expressing myself. That expression tends to be through the written word as I draft my novels and prepare my blog posts. However, expressing yourself can be done in many other ways. Finding your creative outlet can be hugely beneficial to your personal development.
The dictionary describes creativity as the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.
Think about what you create daily. Do you craft your social media content? Are you happy to whip up a homemade culinary delight for the family dinner? Does your heart sing when you’re pottering in the garden to plant and nurture your plot of land? Are you content to pick up your camera and capture the world from behind the lens?
A popular term within the personal development circles is to change your mindset and to see the world differently. The simple act of thinking outside the box is creativity at work. To be creative, we must first THINK and then PRODUCE.
As a writer, I find it vital to connect with my readers in new and imaginative ways, and to do this I need to be creative with my thoughts, deeds, and words. Being an author means I’m also a woman in business (I sell a product) and creativity in the workplace is what makes one business stand out above its competitors.
Some of you may already feel that creative flow rushing through your veins. But what can you do if you don’t feel connected to your creativity?
Try the following:
• Experiment with the new – this could be places, food, exercise, and people.
• Explore everything available to you – you may feel uninspired, but you might not have found the right creative fit for you and your circumstances.
• Challenge yourself – don’t take the same path day in day out. Mix it up and see what you can create from pushing yourself out of that comfort zone.
• Network – meeting a variety of people with diverse interests can unlock your own potential and boost your imagination.
For those of you who like to understand the science behind personal development, I refer to a study by a team of researchers in the voice, speech, and language branch of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders led by Siyuan Liu, PhD who studied the brain activity of 12 freestyle rap artists.
The study revealed that the rappers experienced a unique reallocation of brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region responsible for motivation of thought and action when improvising with lyrics and rhythmic patterns guided only by a beat. They also witnessed decreased activity in dorsolateral prefrontal regions, the region responsible for supervisory and monitoring roles.
Siyuan Liu also found that freestyling increased the rappers brain activity in the perisylvian system, the region involved with language production, as well as the amygdala, the area linked to our emotions. It also increased the activity in the cingulate motor areas, which showed the research team that improvisation (creativity) engages a brain network linked to motivation, language, mood, and action.
There is yet more reason why creativity is so important to our personal growth. Referring to another study by George Land in 1968, we find a startling decline in creativity as we approach adulthood. Land’s study tested creativity in various groups of children.
5 years olds tested = 98% creativity
10 year olds tested = 30% creativity
15 year olds tested = 12% creativity
When Land tested 280,000 adults the creativity was just 2%.
As I’ve been working with my counsellor over the past few months, we often talk about my ‘inner child’ and how I need to nurture that part of me. The statistics above give me clear evidence I need to appreciate the importance of looking after my needs and living with more childlike glee.
Yes, the bills still need to be paid, the house must be cleaned, the kids taken to school, the day job continues, but when do you stop and allow yourself to be creative?
There’s a successful rule I follow along with many other creatives, and that’s the 80/20 rule. It’s the ratio we use for advertising our products and engaging online (80% is about the reader and only 20% is about the sale). Why not try something similar for yourself? Set aside 20% of your working day to explore new ideas, be creative with your roles, and embrace the challenges of thinking outside the box. Dedicate 20% of your day to being creative in whatever way resonates with you and your life.
As a writer I get to be creative as part of my day job. However, I still need to nurture my imagination in other areas of my life. Meal planning and meal prep allows me to play in the kitchen and create delicious family dinners. Choosing to ditch my go-to black clothing opting for a bright top and funky shoes will push me out of my comfort zone while allowing me to add a playful vibe to my wardrobe. Journaling helps to set free my inner child by writing down the good, bad, and ugly of each day.
What do you do, or what can you do to express your creativity, use your imagination, and feel inspired to create something new? Please share your experiences or ideas in the comments as they may help another reader.