Are we in a Creativity Crisis?

A quick Google and you’ll find a plethora of articles claiming how to increase your creativity, and what 21st Century habits are killing it. It seems creativity is drying up. Which begs the question, are we in a creativity crisis?

With the top 3 grossing films of last year all sequels of movie franchises (Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and The Avengers: Age of Ultron), Hollywood’s habit of rebooting old classics, in the hope of guaranteed commercial success, is well documented.

Shit — they’re on to us!

A study published last year in the Journal of Consumer Research investigated whether our current consumerist society leads to less necessary innovation, and therefore a decline in creativity overall. “What we found is that abundant resources may have a negative effect on creativity. When you have fewer resources, you use them more creatively,” explained Ravi Mehta, a professor of business administration at the U. of Illinois and lead study author.

If you have ever spent time in the less affluent communities you’ll have witnessed how conflict and limited resources lead to incredible ingenuity. Hell, if you’ve ever been a student living on a tight budget you’ll know how desperate times call for cleaver measures.

So why hasn’t a creative mindset been passed down through the generations? Certainly our ancestors had plenty of circumstantial provocation, and evidently used it to create the comfortable, consumerist society we have today.

“Once we become used to not being creative — to being merely passive consumers — it seems that the creativity muscle begins to atrophy, which does not bode well for future generations.”

Reclaiming our creative minds may be as simple, yet time consuming, as building muscle in the gym. Whilst the majority of us don’t live in the challenging circumstances of our ancestors or today’s developing world, we can create pseudo-conflict in our daily task and projects.

In Tim Brown’s TED talk Creativity and Play he recommends the 30 Circle Test created by researcher Bob McKim. Draw 30 circles on a piece of paper and, in one minute, create each circle into a different piece of art. Most adults will struggle to do all 30, due to our inclination to self-edit.

Srinivas Rao of the Unmistakable Creative Podcast advocates limiting the inflow of information and notifications that we surround ourselves with. “Every email you receive, every notification, and every “like” you get on a post releases a shot of dopamine, thereby making the products and services that we use on a daily basis addictive as hell. The sense of fulfilment and satisfaction derived from this doesn’t last very long. As a result, we crave these dopamine hits all day long,” he explains. By limiting the daily notifications we receive, we allow the hormonal reward of a project completed or a problem solved to be a lot more alluring.

Today’s world offers many tool and opportunities for creativity and innovation — but it seems you can’t avoid a healthy dose of self discipline.

At our next Tomorrowism event, we will be hearing from a selection of hand-picked experts on how they work at keeping their creative mind strong and growing. Sign up now via the link below: