Creativity is for everyone

Creativity is not only useful for artists, writers, and musicians. Creativity is an essential skill when it comes to problem-solving and resourcefulness in everyday life. You don’t have to be an ‘artist’ to benefit from increased levels of creativity — just like you don’t need to be an athlete to benefit from increased levels of physical fitness — but who knows what might be unlocked if you start exercising your creativity muscles?

Enhanced creativity not only helps with daily problem-solving, but it can also change our perspective on the issues we face. By identifying and clearing our creative blocks, and living from a place of curiosity instead of fear, we can improve the quality of our lives immeasurably. As a result, creative people are OK with making mistakes and learn from them, rather than avoiding them. Artists benefit from the creative process of course, but so can the rest of us.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things — Steve Jobs

The ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, to put situations in a new perspective, to problem solve in ways that aren’t immediately obvious, to create something out of nothing, these are all facets of a creative mind. For some people, the creative process leads them on to create art or music or poetry or design, but for the majority, creativity can manifest itself in all areas of our daily lives.

The most creative people don’t necessarily have to “make” anything, they are living creative lives full of curiosity and making interesting connections. The great divide comes when people ignore or avoid their innate creativity because they don’t think of themselves as “artistic” and therefore mistakenly believe they have no place being “creative.”

To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it — Osho

You can look at creativity from an intensely pragmatic viewpoint like Steve Jobs, or take a spiritual approach like Osho. For some, creativity is a way to make a living, or to solve everyday problems using lateral thinking, for others, it is their spark, their life force and their reason for being.

Once you start exploring the topic of creativity, you realise it means many things to many people, but one thing I do know to be true is that to stand outside the realm of art and think creativity is something that artistic people are ‘gifted’ with is a mistake. Just as wonder and play are universal to all young children, creativity is a common trait in all humanity; it’s just that some of us make better use of it than others.

Did yours survive high school?

So if we are born with an innate ability to be creative, where does it go? Why does it disappear in some and not in others? Sir Ken Robinson would argue, and many agree with him, that the structured education system polishes it out of us.

If the creative process relies on us being willing to make mistakes, and the education system requires us always to be right, then those two philosophies are fundamentally at odds. For some people, they just don’t fit with the traditional education system and their ability to be actively creative remains intact. For others, their schooling and upbringing push their creative opportunities away and they “forget” how to be creative, and a rare few can tell the difference and do well in the traditional education systems as well as retaining their creativity.

Creativity is like a muscle. Exercise it Every Day

The good news is that creativity is like a muscle. If we don’t exercise it, our creativity muscles will simply atrophy. It doesn’t go anywhere, it’s still there, waiting for us to use it again. To get the most benefit out of our creativity, we need to exercise it regularly. Maintaining a regular creativity fitness routine will have lasting benefits for mental health and wellbeing, just like a physical fitness routine does.

Blocks

Most of us struggle to be creative on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. It might be that your day job or family saps all of your energy, or maybe you just don’t think of yourself as creative at all. A regular Creativity Fitness regime will transform your life. You will discover that no matter how busy, flustered and “uncreative” you are, there are ways to steal time, set priorities and develop lifelong creativity habits. These obstacles are all simply “creative blocks, “ and we will set about clearing them throughout the 12-week program.

By identifying and clearing your blocks, addressing the areas of time, energy, creativity, habits and productivity, you will learn how to become an Everyday Creative. By making small meaningful changes, you can reap benefits in all facets of your life by practicing creativity on a daily basis.

Mindset

One of the biggest obstacles we all face when embarking on any self-improvement is our mind. Humans have a penchant for self-sabotage and can talk ourselves out of doing what will benefit us in the long run, in exchange for short term pleasure or satisfaction. The brain is an incredible asset when used properly, but it can also bamboozle us if we don’t understand it.

Cultivating an awareness of our amygdaloid and how fear plays a role in our lives is essential if we are going to spend some time outside of our comfort zone. Clearing blocks and protecting ourselves against sabotage is also necessary if we are going to be creative on a daily basis. Once the way is clear, we can access our subconscious in ways we never thought possible and develop a growth mindset to let curiosity rule our lives instead of fear.

Treat your creativity to an exercise program

Whether or not you’re physically active, most people understand the importance of maintaining physical fitness. We know that regular exercise, even as little as 20 minutes a day will have lasting benefits, regarding health, fitness, and well-being.

What isn’t as widely understood is that maintaining a level of creativity fitness is just as important.

You already know that you can’t run a marathon after spending six months on the couch. Without any pre-training, your muscles aren’t prepared for the strain you’re about to put them through. Chances are, you’ll have an unpleasant experience, you might not finish the race, you may even injure yourself, and it will probably be a demoralising experience you will never attempt again. Whether you’re an experienced athlete, or trying to race for the first time, if your muscles are not conditioned, you won’t perform at your peak, no matter how enthusiastic you are.

Creativity works in the same way. If you’re not actively creative, don’t expect to perform at your best when you are in a situation requiring an intense burst of creativity, such as renovating your kitchen, planning a wedding, launching a new business, or coming up with six weeks of holiday activities for the kids. If your creativity muscles have been on the couch for six months, just like the unprepared marathon runner, your creativity muscles will be out of condition, and chances are, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, you’ll probably find the whole process tiring and stressful. If you don’t give up altogether, without a basic level of creativity fitness, most people achieve less than their initial enthusiasm promised.

Unfortunately, the most disastrous outcome from this type of experience is that many people come to the conclusion that they’re ‘just not creative enough.’ Or that difficult person, situations, and lack of resources prevent them from being creative, when in reality, they just don’t have the level of creativity fitness required to be resourceful and perform at their best.

As a child, we were all “creative.” We painted and drew and told stories and played games for hours a day. Guess what we were doing? Building up our creativity fitness. We didn’t need to be told or shown how to do it, and we didn’t need expensive resources, we just played.

As we get older, there are fewer opportunities to play. We make time instead for school, work, family responsibilities and the pressures of daily life.

We didn’t become less creative; we merely allowed our creativity muscles to atrophy.

They are still there, as ‘flabby’ and out of condition as they might be, but your creativity muscles didn’t go anywhere, they are quietly waiting for you to exercise them again.

Known as the “Tactile Typographer” Dominique Falla has completed string typography commissions for Google, Bing, Penguin, Random House and Woolworths, among others • She is the founder of the Typism Global Community and her book on Creativity Fitness will be published next year.