“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein
I was recently struck by a question in a little coffee table book called The Book of Questions, and the question was, “What have you brought into this world that is unique (apart from your own children)?” I was stumped! I could not think of anything material. I had not published anything, painted anything or built anything. At least nothing of note – other than to my adoring parents, of course!
Creativity is a mind-set as much as a process
So as this question continued to plague me, I looked into the idea of creativity a lot more. I came to realise that I had created a lot of stuff. This stuff might not be published or recognised but that didn’t matter. I came to understand that the creativity mind-set is what matters. This is because being creative encourages imagination and open mindedness. It encourages play and flexibility.
When Martin Luther King Jr announced ‘he had a dream’, that vision for the future was far removed from the reality of the time. He would have had to delve deep into his imagination to create this vision, this powerful dream that carried a nation through massive cultural change.
“Creativity takes courage. ” Henri Matisse
We have seen the power of dreams and creative thinking throughout history… From the American Civil Rights movement to the end of Apartheid in South Africa. Dreams and creativity put people on the moon and gave us iPods.
It is not only the big things that need imagination, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Life requires this from us, all the time. The real question is how awake are we while we are being creative? If we are always distracted by the things we have to do later, the things we didn’t do earlier, then how connected are we with the creativity we bring every day to solve each puzzle we face?
Everyone is creating all the time – we just don’t think of it that way
I know so many people who claim they are not creative or don’t have an imagination. How sad is that admission? Imagination and creativity is something which absolutely separates us from any other species. We can’t not claim them!
As I started to read about living a more present and authentic life, I found that there were so many references to our dreams and creativity. People like Branson would say things like “the Story of Virgin is a story of big dreams”. I realised that if I allow myself to be creative then I can reconnect and learn to harness my imagination more.
The thing about being creative is, just like dreams, it doesn’t have boundaries… Unless we put them there. If we allow ourselves to play, draw, write or build without expectation, we will also allow ourselves to solve problems with far more imagination. We will see opportunities where we would otherwise be blind or we can connect with people in ways never possible before.
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when
you grow up” Pablo Picasso
I have spent a lot of time watching my daughter play, draw and build. She has no agenda, does not have constructs of what makes a good drawing, a good Lego house or a clever game. I’ve tried to adopt the same by including creativity as one of my 5 core principles to nurture towards living a more authentic and happy life. I try to adopt a mind more like my daughter’s when I write or when I draw. Not with a goal in mind but the process – creating for creativity’s sake.
Since doing this I’ve found it easier to create and I’ve loved writing my daily Haiku poems. I am not fussed by if it will be a great Haiku or not but rather how fun it is to create. I’ve also found that I am less attached to outcomes. I’m more open to how things play out and I can far more easily see options in scenarios that previously would have left me feeling stuck.
Being creative has made me more comfortable with the future
When creating as play, I’ve given myself permission not to have to produce anything great. Rather I focus on the fun and the freedom of unknown. This makes the future so much more familiar because it too is unknown. When you have a child’s mind to serious matters outside of your control somehow they don’t have to be so daunting. This is a true gift.
This was so evidenced this weekend when I went to see His Holiness The Dalai Lama give a talk at the O2. As an 80 year old man he managed to have an innocence and a lightness about him when talking about his life and ideas. He wasn’t burdened by the unknown but rather he seemed playful and curious. Why do we have to grow up? Where did our curiosity go and why do we not think we are creative anymore?
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of
great creative people” Leo Burnett
If you are looking for ways to be more creative, why not try one or some of these simple games:
- Try colouring in again: There are a plethora of colouring in books for adults. They are great for stress relief, developing focus or just playing. Try Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom
- Build with Lego: There are a growing number of adults who miss their Lego building days and so if you want to reconnect with the inner child, why not with this Lego set?
- Write a daily journal: Writing for the sake of writing has been an amazing practice for me. It is cathartic, allows me to externalise concepts I struggle with internally and I get to put my shit out before I start the day. Here’s a great article on creating a daily practice of writing.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you have any thoughts or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.
I am passionate about change, personal development and the inner journey – doing things differently. In my spare time I work on my own personal growth journey, write Haiku poetry, practice and teach mindfulness and try to live a more authentic and present life.
I think that too many people go through change alone and so part of my personal purpose is to share the vulnerability and the learnings, the failings and the insights from my own ongoing journey. I am here to help guide and provide a safe space to those who need it but mostly I hope that it may resonate with some and that they feel less alone in their journey.
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