I never want to hear you say you’re not creative!
I believe creativity is about curiosity and openness, rather than being about possessing particular skills, talents, certifications or accolades.
A creative life is available for all of us, regardless of what that parent/teacher/random stranger told us, when we were young and still freely exploring life!
It surprises me how many of us developed hang-ups from experiences like this, that we’re still carrying, decades later. This negative early programming brings no service to our lives and I’m determined to help reverse it!
I was going through the blog’s archives and stumbled upon a 2012 piece which is so relevant to, and gave me a great frame for, what I’m writing about here.
Back then, my friend, artist Emily Wilkinson, interviewed 50 professional women about creativity in the workplace. She consequently made some conclusions on what enables us to be creative.
8 years later, I appreciate those conclusions more than ever. I want to share my own interpretations and experiences of them, as well as some tips on how you can use them to enjoy a more creative life.
Conditions for a more creative life
1. An openness to learning and experimentation
When you see creativity as a mindset, above all else, you realise it’s a way of life, rather than something you consciously do.
At the centre of this mindset is an openness to investigation, discovery and exploration. It’s an appreciation of possibility and allowing yourself to consider “what if?”
What if there’s a different way to look at this? Could there be a different way to do this? What if there’s a different way to experience this?
It’s embracing diversity and being open to alternatives.
Which is why I think many people who embrace their creativity with little restraint are seen as eccentric. When you’re so open to the beauty of difference, you can more easily release the need to conform.
I’ve always felt different and, I used to be so self-conscious about it. However, at the same time, the thought of trying to be like “everybody else” made me miserable!
My journey to self-acceptance and self-love has been so freeing and it’s been largely fueled by two things which I recommend to everybody:
- Follow your curiosity
- Follow your pleasure
If you’re stuck for a starting point in this journey of discovery, I put together some activity prompts for a challenge I was running which might give you some inspiration.
And of course, there’s always Pinterest. If you found your way to this post, you may well enjoy some of the things I’ve curated in my boards and begin your journey to a more creative life there.
2. Space & time
Learning and experimentation requires dedicated space and time. The key word being “dedicated,” meaning: we have to be intentional to create these conducive conditions.
But they need not be elaborate, as one of my besties, Allison Chuck, recently reminded me.
My Check in with your purpose workbook got her to recall that painting was one of the activities that got her into a state of flow. Yet, she hadn’t painted in years! Seeking to remedy that, she jumped back into it.
Now, if it were me, being the all-or-nothing kind of person that I am used to be, I would try to block out hours in my schedule to indulge in this activity. Which, as you can probably guess, would mean it would never happen!
Not Allison – she decided to give herself 20 minutes, during her morning routine. Totally doable!
Imagine it: getting yourself into a state of flow, every single morning. Imagine the impact this would make to your day and to your life in general?! You’d be on the high vibration that attracts all kinds of abundance into your life.
We all have the power to carve out space and time for the things that matter to us. So perhaps all you need is to reframe why creating these conditions for creativity are important to you.
Here are some tips for creating space and time.
Which brings me nicely to wellness.
It’s a kind of chicken-and-egg situation. Creativity contributes to wellness and wellness contributes to more creativity!
How does creativity contribute to wellness?
I talk more about the various wellness benefits of a regular creative practice here.
In this article, Greta Solomon writes proposes creativity as a remedy to the alarmingly high levels of stress causing so much dis-ease in our modern life:
“Through creativity, you can remove yourself from the reality you currently find yourself in. You can unplug from the busyness of life, and choose another path.”
This Forbes article supports this idea, discussing how engaging in creative activities “improves brain function, mental health, and physical health.”
How does wellness contribute to creativity?
When our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing is taken care of – when we’re well – we’re boundless! We can express ourselves and live our lives more authentically and more fully. Creativity is a natural by-product of that.
Consider the habits you’re installing, in the interests of your wellness. What do you need to do regularly, to be at your best? I share some of mine here and talk about managing my time accordingly here.
When was the last time you just let go? A time when you didn’t restrain yourself, to fit what’s expected of you. When you didn’t judge your desires or your actions? When you let your inner child come out to play?
We can do this daily! The idea of a creative warm-up is something that Justina Blakeney got me to think about. It’s essentially indulging in some judgement-free creative play, before getting down to work.
I imagine these warm-ups being as diverse as our creative inclinations! It need not have anything to do with your work but everything to do with giving yourself permission to play.
Maybe for you that’s drawing, painting, art journaling, cooking, plating, gardening, writing, dancing, singing, taking photos, writing lists that stretch your imagination [<< a great read!] – even having fun with your hair or make-up!
“Play is something done for its own sake… It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”
Indeed, all this playfulness may seem trivial but, remember: as children, play is how we learned about ourselves, about connection and about the world around us.
“Play is a basic human need as essential to our well-being as sleep, so when we’re low on play, our minds and bodies notice,” the same Dr. Brown continues in this Washington Post article. He adds that it’s something we should incorporate into our daily lives.
5. Creative community
Find your people! People who value creativity and the vision of a more creative life, as much as you do. People with the same kind of openness and curiosity as you.
They will affirm you, they will inspire you, they will play with you and they will motivate you to keep exploring and keep growing in your creativity.
You’ll know when you’ve found your tribe when, you feel free and safe to be the full expression of yourself!
The stuff of revolutions!
As I think about all I’ve written here, I am reminded of something I always assert:
Creativity has the power to change the world in all kinds of positive ways.
Embracing diversity and being open to alternatives – new ways of being, doing and living. Intentionally dedicating space and time for this work. Making a commitment to your wellness and inspiring others to do the same. Maintaining your vitality through play. Building community.
These are the things that movements and revolutions are made of!
And revolutions begin with the self and a single step.
What action will you take today, towards a more creative life?
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