Creativity is the ability to imagine, create, or invent something new or better. Life is full of problems and challenges, but if you learn how to be Creative For Life each and every problem and challenge can be satisfied, and your life will be much more fulfilling and enjoyable. However, surprisingly, most people never harness their creative potential mainly because of societal belief systems. Beliefs that only special, talented people are creative, and you have to be born that way, diminish our confidence in our creative abilities.
The notion that geniuses such as Shakespeare, Picasso, and Mozart were `’gifted’ is a myth, according to a study at Exeter University. Researchers examined outstanding performances in the arts, mathematics, and sports, to find out if “the widespread belief that to reach high levels of ability a person must possess an innate potential called talent”.
The study concludes that excellence is determined by opportunities, encouragement, training, motivation, and, most of all, practice, giving an example of Mozart training for 16 years before he produced an acknowledged masterwork. Surveys, such as a Adobe Survey, found that only 25 percent of the individuals surveyed felt like they were living up to their creative potential. To learn more on this read this article “Importance In Creativity.”
As you will see below, creativity is not the ability to create out of nothing, but the ability to generate new ideas through a creative plan, by combining, changing, or reapplying existing ideas. Some creative ideas are astonishing and brilliant, while others are just simple, good, practical ideas that no one seems to have thought of yet. According to this Scientific American study, regardless of the impact of the creativity, the creator experiences fulfillment and well being in life.
Believe it or not, everyone has substantial creative in-born ability, and believe it or not, creativity actually gets better with age which is particularly important. In 2006, The Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at The George Washington University (GW) released a report called “The Creativity and Aging Study,” confirming any type of creative activity from drawing to gardening is good for maintain cognitive ability in the aging. According to Dr. Joe Verghese, MBBS, MS, director of the Montefiore-Einstein Center of the Aging Brain, in the human brain there something like a “mental Muscle”, or a cognitive reserve, and the more you exercise it like using creativity, your brain builds new connections and new networks.
According to the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), there are 2 distinct forms of creativity “radical” and “incremental”, and both can manifest itself in a person. Results demonstrate that willingness to take risks, resources for creativity, and career commitment are associated primarily with radical creativity; that the presence of creative coworkers and organizational identification are associated with incremental creativity; and that conformity and organizational identification are linked with routine performance.
To free oneself from societal norms means one’s willingness to take risks resulting in having the ability of radical creativity. Just look at how creative children are simply because children are not shackled by societal norms, at least initially, besides the fact they are inquisitive and ask a “million” questions, and are more free to express themselves.
It’s been said that at the age of 5, children ask 120 questions a day, at age 6 they ask only 60 questions a day, and at the age of 40, adults ask 4 questions a day. However, as adults, there is strong social pressure to conform and to be ordinary and not be creative besides being much less inquisitive, because you’re “not a child anymore”! It’s time to “live in the real world!” Well, actually no! We adults need to embrace a “beginner’s mind,” and ask the many questions like a child would to spur creativity.
While there is no magic bullet that will liberate your creativity, it can be helpful to remember how you played as a child. What absorbed you to the extent that you lost track of time? Your child’s play provides the clue to your creativity, your talents and your passion. One of the most brilliant minds of our times, Albert Einstein, recognized the undeniable link between childhood, imagination, and creativity, when he was quoting saying,
To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.
One study in the Journal of Russian and East European Psychology discusses the ability of children and the connection between imagination and child-like creativity. In thinking like or as an adult, in actuality, the opposite is true in fostering creativity, according to a Scientific America study. A relaxation of “executive functions” during “free-style” rapping allows for more natural de-focused attention and uncensored processes to occur, possibly the hallmark of creativity, found the study. In other words, the rappers were able to remove themselves from the logical thinking that happens in their brains so that the creative side could come through.
So, is it any wonder for adults, creativity has too often been repressed through education or social norms or social pressures to “grow up” , but it is still there and can be reawakened, and this is what this article is about. Creativity and happiness go hand in hand! Repressing your creativity is robbing you of more happiness and a quality of life. Here are some examples.
Healthy Examples of Creativity
One Research Gate study showed arts-based interventions were used to reduce anxiety levels among college student. A group of single people doing individual artwork and a second group of several people doing group artwork showed lower levels of anxiety, whereas, the third group, which worked on a non-art puzzle, showed no reduction in anxiety.
University Of North Carolina researchers used a cell phone study and found that people reported doing something creative around 20 percent of the time, and those who generally reported feeling happy and active were much more likely to be doing something creative in a given moment. Quoting the finding in part:
….everyday creative behavior as a cause and effect of positive psychological processes…..
One “How Art Changes the Brain” study found that producing art led to increases in psychological resilience, and that these changes were actually correlated with changes in connections between different brain regions, helping to decrease your worries and help you to become more resilient in the face of stress. Being creative or doing artwork has even been helpful to people dealing with chronic illnesses.
One National Institutes Of Health (NIH) study of patients diagnosed with cancer, making art helped participants to focus on the good things in their life rather than their illness and was associated with increased self-worth.
What Exactly Is Creativity?
Almost every famous contributor to the betterment of civilization was ridiculed and sometimes even jailed, if not at least looked at as a failure. Here is what Thomas Edison said about himself:
I make more mistakes than anyone else I know, and sooner or later, I patented most of them.
—Thomas Edison Edison was both a prolific inventor and innovator, producing over 1,093 patents, but, more important he was also a master at learning from failed experiments. Did fear of failure bother Edison? Absolutely not!
Think about Galileo. And look what happened to Jesus, who walked the Earth. Creative people work hard, even facing ridicule and condemnation, continually to improve ideas and solutions, by making gradual alterations and refinements to their creations, through a creative plan of action.
Often all that’s needed to be creative is to make a commitment to creativity and to take the time to do it. Creativity takes having an open mind and attitude and welcome challenges. Creative people have a desire to accept change and newness, a willingness to play with ideas and possibilities, a flexibility of outlook, the habit of enjoying the good, while looking for ways to improve it.
ResearchGate determined that creative people possess the following traits:
Openness To Experience. A 2016 study in the Journal of Creative Behavior found that being open to new experiences enhances creativity.
Inquisitiveness or Curiosity. Curiosity appears to be a fundamental motive in facilitating industry and creativity. Writers, artists, inventors, scientists, and others engaged in the creative process often refer to curiosity to describe the compelling psychological need to work at their craft according to Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at George Mason University.
Intuition. A Managing Creativity In Organizations study found that intuition is the ability to think ‘in-between’ existing concepts and to think in-between points of existing knowledge, and recognizing patterns resulting in creativity.
Tolerance For Ambiguity. Tolerance of ambiguity and openness to experience have both been touted as important contributors to creativity according to a 2014 Personality and Motivation research book.
Independence. According to a Journal For the Education of the Gifted study proposed fostering independence in youth enhances creativity. Individuals that exhibit independence and don’t rely on others are typically more creative in nature.
Risk Takers. They embrace mistakes and use their wisdom and bravery to effectively execute their more innovative ideas, whether they do it themselves or delegate to a team of others. Their normal is balanced living on the precipice of risk and failure. According to a 2017 Frontiers of Psychology study (NIH) findings illustrate the necessity to treat creativity and risk taking as multi-dimensional traits and the need to have a more nuanced framework of creativity and other related cognitive functions.
Insight. The relationship between insight and creativity is clearing explored in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. People with insight can unconsciously notice that they are thinking about a problem in an unsuccessful way, search for an more successful framing, and evaluating the new way of thinking about the problem which results in creative solutions.
Imaginative or Prone To “Daydreaming”. Although daydreaming might seem mindless, a Sage Psychological Science study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state and daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it’s related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions.
Here is a link to Wikipedia if you want more information on creativity traits and characteristics.
Most of society are socialized into accepting only a few permitted or normal things, like chocolate-covered strawberries, and don’t dare to step out of bounds, for example.
However, the day-dreaming, creative, imaginative, mind-wandering person realizes that there are other possibilities, like peanut butter, mayo, and banana sandwich, or celery dipped in peanut butter. The creative person, having an independent streak, believes that there is always room for improvement.
Creative people understand creating is a process and they continually work to improve ideas and solutions, by making gradual alterations and refinements to their works according to a 2012 Kansas State University research paper. Contrary to popular belief, creative excellence is rarely produced with a single stroke of brilliance or in a frenzy of rapid activity.
There many documented stories of companies who had to take the invention away from the inventor in order to market it because the inventor would have kept on tweaking it and refining it, always trying to make it a little better. Here is one of our favorite quotes:
It’s never too late to be who you might have been.
Think about that one….
Get Sufficient Physical Activity When you go outside for a quick jog or bike ride or even a walk, do you ever feel a major upswing in your mood immediately after? Aside from the extra oxygen your physical activity provides, exercise boosts the production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters known to reduce stress and anxiety, and bring pleasure. But the benefits of exercise go way beyond mood improvement.
According to a Stanford University study, walking boosts creativity. After measuring the creativity levels of participants walking and sitting, activity levels in the walking group increased by 60 per cent. Exercise affects brain chemistry, physiology, and neuroplasticity, and makes it easier for you to overcome uncertainty and take more risks. It can also help put you in a creative frame of mind.
Recent findings, such as The NIH study, have suggested that the brain’s hippocampus is also involved in giving people the ability to imagine (create) new situations.
Since we know that exercise enhances the birth of new hippocampal brain cells and can improve memory function, this discovery suggests that exercise might be able to improve the imaginative functions of the hippocampus as well. This idea has not yet been completely tested in people.
But the hypothesis raises the exciting possibility that exercise could make students more imaginative at school and adults more creative at work, with broad benefits for society as a whole. Quoting the NIH study:
These findings have led to the concept of the prospective brain; an idea that a crucial function of the brain is to use stored information to imagine, simulate and predict possible future events.
Get Healthy Restful Sleep The phenomenon attributed to sleep by scientists as ‘pattern recognition’ dictates that REM sleep is beneficial to the creative process. A study published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, and reviewed by the NIH, has shown that the REM stage of sleep helps the brain connect unrelated ideas, which provides insights and in turn aids creative problem-solving. The NIH said,
The beneficial role of sleep for creative processes has been experimentally confirmed by at least three independent studies so far.
This is not surprising, as the act of creating itself can often be an effort to connect seemingly unrelated thoughts and experiences.
The practice of being conscious of lucid dreams you are experiencing helps creativity, in that you can explore new possibilities without the usual governing rules of reality and the real world. Another study done by a neurologist at Harvard Medical School found that even a brief nap and dreaming may help boost learning, memory, and creative problem solving.
Wikipedia has some interesting information on the connection of sleep and creativity. Quoting Wikipedia:
The majority of studies on sleep creativity have shown that sleep can facilitate insightful behavior and flexible reasoning, and there are several hypotheses about the creative function of dreams.
Wikipedia offered many examples of celebrities who believed their dreams helped them solve problems, and get inspirations, with creative solutions. Here are 3:
Jack Nicklaus had a dream that helped him correct his golf swing.
Paul McCartney of the Beatles discovered the tune for the song “Yesterday” in a dream and was inspired to write “Yellow Submarine” during hypnagogia, which is the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep.
Otto Loewi, a German physiologist, won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1936 for his work on the chemical transmission of nerve impulses. He discovered in a dream how to prove his theory.
Could this explain the old adage “I need to sleep on it?
Eat A Healthy Nutrient-Rich Diet. Enjoying Creativity For Life is strongly dependent on your well-being, both physically and mentally. It goes without saying that we can turn on our flow of creative ideas easier if we are healthy, happy, well-rested and in a good condition.
There is now a growing body of evidence to eat nutrient-rich foods in order to increase our well being and to sharpen our mental capacities. What we eat can either boost our mental capacity and creativity, or it can hinder it, leading us to feel fatigued and distracted, and definitely not creative! Let’s look at some of these nutrient-rich foods:
Organic Complex Carbohydrates (whole grains). Complex carbohydrates are much healthier. Complex carbs and whole grains (A) are rich in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids, and provide our bodies with a surge in energy, as well as a rich source of fiber to keep our mental awareness high for longer periods of time and for good digestion. Your brain needs glucose, which comes from carbohydrates, to function properly; without it you may find it hard to concentrate.
Organic Lean Grass-Fed or Free-Range finished Proteins. Lean grass-fed or free-range protein such as red meats and poultry, dairy, eggs, nuts, and legumes, not only keeps our brain sharp and our energy levels high, but it also keeps us full and reduces cravings. By being less hungry during the day, we are better able to concentrate on our work. Protein is an essential nutrient for maintaining energy and focus and is also found in wild-caught fish and seafood. See references under omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Research has shown omega 3s are necessary for human health. Omega 3s reduce inflammation in the brain and thus enhances our ability to concentrate, retain information and think creatively, per this NIH study.
Rich sources include fresh wild-caught or cold-water fish and seafood(not farmed raised) (A), such as salmon and sardines, lean organic grass-fed finished and free-range finished meats such as beef, and chicken, organic grass-fed brown eggs and dairy products such as butter and cheese. (A) And, don’t forget about extra virgin olive oil.
It also includes organic walnuts and other nuts, chia, hemp and flax seeds and others, and dark green leafy vegetables such as romaine, spinach, and kale. (A) Omega-3s increases red blood cell deformability, or the ability
Omega-3s increases red blood cell deformability, or the ability of red blood cells to bend and contort in small space, allowing more oxygen to reach tissues and areas such as the brain, and enhance physical function, particularly in older adults.
Other Polyunsaturated Fats. These natural healthy fats have been shown to lower inflammation in the brain and promote proper cell functioning and communication between the brain and the rest of the body. Great sources include avocado, coconut oil, nuts, and grape seed oil. Quoting a Harvard Medical School study:
Eating polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats or highly refined carbohydrates reduces harmful LDL cholesterol and improves the cholesterol profile. It also lowers triglycerides.
Plant Polyphenols. When we are feeling happier, we are also more likely to think creatively and be more open-minded. The flavanols (antioxidants) in dark chocolate, as well as the promotion of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, boost our endorphins and ability to concentrate. Other sources include colorful fruits, such as berries (A), and antioxidant drinks (A) like red wine, espresso coffee, and green tea. An NIH study confirmed the health benefits of polyphenols, and concluded their study with this statement:
Based on our current scientific understanding, polyphenols offer great hope for the prevention of chronic human diseases.
Choline. Research has shown, like this NIH study, choline plays a huge role in promoting brain health and creativity by keeping our cells less inflamed and younger. Grass-fed finished brown eggs is the best source for choline.
L Theanine Amino Acid. Theanine increases brain function by increasing serotonin and dopamine production, which can relax the brain and reduce inflammation, and ward off aging and memory decline, by boosting immune system function, per the NIH. Best source is organic green tea.
L tyrosine Amino Acid. Organic food with high levels of tyrosine, such as bananas, peaches and almonds, may allow for deeper thinking, such as being creative, according to a new study published in the journal, Psychological Research and reviewed by NIH.
According to Lorenza Colzato, a cognitive psychologist and who led the study, found that test subjects given orange juice containing the amino acid L-tyrosine were better at solving puzzles than those who were given a placebo, supporting research claims that specific foods can help creative people overcome mental obstacles.
Folates. Studies, like this NIH study, have shown that folates (B-complex vitamins) are very beneficial in treating depression and other mental health disorders. Rich sources include dark leafy greens, whole grains, organic grass-fed dairy products and eggs, organic raw nuts and lean organic grass-fed finished or free-range finished meats like beef and chicken, and wild-caught fish and seafood. Spinach, liver, asparagus, and brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest folate levels.
Beta Carotene.(Antioxidant) According to experts, like the NIH, consumption of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, may increase our brain health and the ability to retain knowledge. The properties found in this nutrient slow the aging process and fight oxidative stress, which has been found to promote aging and cognitive decline. Enjoy organic fruits and veggies containing the yellow-orange pigment, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe.
Fermented Foods (Cultured). Naturally fermented foods are getting a lot of attention from health experts these days because they may help strengthen your gut microbiome, the 100 trillion or so bacteria and microorganisms that live in your digestive tract which allows for good digestion (gut health). Researchers, like this NIH research, are beginning to link these tiny creatures to improving all sorts of health conditions from obesity and brain health to heart health to neurodegenerative diseases.
Best sources of natural fermented foods (A) are Greek yogurt and a yogurt-like drink called kefir, Korean pickled vegetables called kimchi, sauerkraut, goat cheese, miso, tempeh, and in some fermented pickles. Ordinary pickles bought in grocery stores are not naturally fermented but picked with vinegar. The NIH said the following:
To our knowledge, this paper is the first research to conduct an extensive review on fermented foods and their cognitive enhancing effects, so to be used as a reference when studying the relevance of gut microbiota and fermented foods to brain functionality.
Spend Time In Nature Spending time in nature, of course, is a major component of being Creative In Life for finding and boosting your creativity. Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people.
It is imperative to consider the inherent value of wilderness as a medium for improving psychological health. More and more humans are living in urban areas in an increasingly complex social structure which is causing us to lose touch with our ‘inner voice’, and imagination and creativity.
In a 2015 ScienceDirect study, 60 subject were asked to take a 50-minute walk, half in a wooded area, and the other half along an urban street. Results showed that, those who walked in nature experienced less anxiety, rumination (thinking continuously about negative aspects of oneself), and negative affect, as well as more positive emotions, and deep thinking, in comparison to the urban walkers. They also improved their performance on the memory tasks. Do you think nature is more conducive to creativity? Absolutely!
2 more example. Many scientists, like this ScienceDirect study, believe our brains were not made for this kind of information bombardment of city living, and that it can lead to mental fatigue, being overwhelmed, and burnout, requiring “attention restoration” by visiting nature, to get back to a normal, re-connect with our inner-self, and return a healthy state.
An NIH 2012 study showed that hikers on a four-day backpacking trip could solve significantly more puzzles requiring creativity when compared to a control group of people waiting to take the same hike, actually, 47 percent more. It’s this kind of brain activity, sometimes referred to as “the brain default network”, that is tied to creative thinking. Quoting one of the lead researchers,
And that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.
Make A Commitment to Find Your Creativity
Learn all you can about your creativity interest through collaboration. Absorb everything you can on your interest that’s known, and then it’s becomes almost magical, as all kinds of ideas start popping in your head!
When you read enough or talk to enough experts, when you have enough inputs, new ideas start appearing. Once you’ve come up with some creative ideas, reserve some time to explore the new ideas.
If you’re not sure where your creativity lies, take a close look at your frustrations. Yes, that’s right, your frustrations! Frustration is a sign you have reached a plateau.
The subconscious mind advises you to step out of the known, to give creativity a home in which to flourish. That’s why you should welcome frustration as a source of wisdom. It is the intuitive part of you summoning to reach deeper into the abyss of your mind and expand your horizons.
Frustration invites you to be less invested in outcomes or failure and to channel creativity through your core. Something else that’s interesting is creative people are prone to have mood disorders or even have bipolar disorder, but why that is, no one really knows.
Some good examples are Van Gogh, Ernest Hemmingway, Winston Churchill, and Theodore Roosevelt. Mood disorders has nothing to do with the ability to be creative. Instead, creativity is associated with self-reflection, and that tendency to ruminate may be what’s causing the feelings of moodiness, but creating could also alleviate the moodiness “blues”.
Be Willing To Take Risks and Make Mistakes (Fight Your Fear Of Failure)
One of the hardest things about being creative is that it requires taking risks. Risk means there’s an unknown outcome and that outcome can be a bit scary. There’s a strong connection between creativity and risk taking because creativity is about doing something where you don’t know the outcome, which means there might be a loss involved.
But, it also means that being creative can have significant gains and there can be significant losses, as well. In essence, you cannot be creative while remaining completely safe. Well, not completely safe, at least socially. Research (NIH study)actually shows the correlation between creativity and risk taking is more in the social domain and not in the other four domains of financial, health and safety, recreational, and ethical.
This makes total sense, when you think about it. Social pressures stops one from using creativity in transitioning from a childhood to an adulthood, so it stands to reason, and explains the evidence of the bearing of the social domain on creativity and risk-taking.
Risks can be inherent (actual) and perceived (made up), and the perceived risk is the one that’s stops creativity in its tracks for many people! Often, we’re not taking risks and we’re not being creative because we’ve made up this story about what’s going to happen if we step out and share an idea or if we try a new project and it fails. Often, the story that we make up is much bigger, more elaborate, and more horrible than what really might happen.
But, really and truly, what are we actually afraid of? According to the research, it’s the social implications of risk and perceived failure. We all have our “comfort zones”, where all feel safe and secure, but that’s not where creativity exists. Safe is not an option for creators. Neither is fearing failure. Outside the comfort zone is the “growth zone”, where creativity exists! The value of the growth zone is that’s where we “visualize”.
It’s also where we learn, that’s where creativity happens, that’s where we grow, we stretch ourselves, and we think ultimately, it’s where we become better people. Creative people are able to imagine or visualize because they have no fear of failure. Research has shown, people who fear failure were often left in a strong negative mood after being asked to visualize goals and goal attainment.
The idea is to expand that comfort zone and take risks and do things you’re uncomfortable with, the bigger your comfort zone gets, the more things you’re comfortable doing. According to a Scientific American study, openness to experience, which is characterized by qualities like intellectual curiosity, imagination, emotional and fantasy interests, and a drive to explore one’s inner and outer lives, has been shown to be the best predictor of creative achievement.
Creativity is a universal attribute; it can be born from anybody at any time in any shape or form. It is inspiration; the seed of an idea that when nourished can reach its full potential. Realize and accept that most problems have multiple solutions. You have to share ideas and solutions and then you have to try to implement those ideas and solutions. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and be creative!
Be Mindful, Use Relaxation Techniques, and Brainstorm For New Ideas
Many people would say that being mindful would hinder creative though. Not so fast! There are 2 types of mindfulness that work in assisting creativity, “breath-focused meditation”, and “open-monitoring meditation”. In open-monitoring meditation, your mind is allowed to wander. Instead of trying to get rid of all the thoughts that may arise, bring nonjudgmental awareness to them and follow them with curiosity.
A new study indicates an increase in divergent or creative thinking, or the ability to generate new ideas, during open-monitoring meditation. The study found that whether someone was new or seasoned at meditation, they experienced similar benefits from practicing an open-monitoring form of meditation.
To achieve open-monitoring meditation (2), make yourself comfortable and relaxed, you can close your eyes or just don’t focus on any object, take 3 deep breaths filling your lungs to capacity then exhaling until your lungs feel empty, now breathe normally. Next, begin to follow your mind. Notice what you’re thinking about without judging your thoughts. Invite each thought in without judging. Stop the exercise at your own will and slowly bring yourself back to the present moment.
Keep A Creative Journal On Your Progress
A creative journal is a type of journal that doesn’t have to be done every single day, and there are countless ways to go about doing it. All you need is a blank notebook, a few scrape book supplies such as decorative tapes and stickers, and if you really want a scrapbook feeling, a method of printing out small pictures.
If you’re artistically inclined, you can also draw pictures, color things in, or anything else you can think of. Record your creative ideas and what your plans are for your ideas because this will remind you each time you open your journal, of unfulfilled commitments if you haven’t acted on your creative ideas. There are very few rules other than to have fun. Here’s a pretty neat video on 5 creative bullet journal ideas (1) you might want to check out.
We leave you with an Einstein Quote:
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
What are your thoughts? Now that you know the importance of being Creative For Life are you going to implement a plan to restore your child-like creativity so you can start enjoying all the health and well being benefits of being creative? Your comments are welcomed.
(1) Pear Fleur Video
(2) David N Video
(A) Use these review links for more information and documented research on these incredible, healthy, nutrient-dense foods, and also purchase them.