This quote is attributed to Einstein, though I'm not sure if he actually said it (there are a lot of quotes like that who are attributed to people who didn't say them). So until I can find something confirming or denying, we'll run with it.
Today I want to discuss creativity. It's such a fascinating topic - there are college courses just on the topic of creativity (I know because I took one), because it's not as simple as people make it out to be. I sometimes come across people saying they're not creative, and I think that thinking that is a huge problem, and shows a lack of self-confidence.
How do you define creativity?
For me, creativity is simply another word for divergent thinking. In fact, Ken Robinson did a wonderful TED talk about whether or not schools are killing creativity. It has nothing to do with art - or rather, art is one way that creativity manifests itself. So before you go around telling people that you're not the creative type, I want to ask you a few questions. Are you good at juggling bills and finding ways to be frugal or bring in a bit of extra income? That's creativity. When you don't have all the ingredients for a recipe, are you able to adapt it with what you have at home or even tweak it a bit to make it your own? That's creativity. Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction and needed to quickly rig something together to keep from exposing things to the world that you didn't want exposed? That's creativity. Were you presented with a massive project at work, and your boss needed it yesterday, so you had to quickly find a way to get it done with no time to do it? That's creativity. Do you enjoy brainstorming? That's creativity. Here, I'll break it down even more... were you ever presented with a problem of any kind and were able to solve it on your own (or even with a little help to inspire you)? That's creativity.
So when Einstein said "Creativity is intelligence having fun," it means that any time you've had to do a little thinking, you're being creative.
And it's FUN! Doesn't it feel great when you figured out how to solve X with the most unconventional Y? It makes for great story telling! "Hey, did I tell you about that time when I...?" That's called self-efficacy. The more you find yourself in challenging situations and recognize your ability to come up with creative solutions to the problem, it's a HUGE boost in confidence.
You are creative. We're all creative. We're all born creative. So, at most, if you think you're not, you might be lacking in self-confidence. Maybe you've spent your whole life being told that you were wrong. Maybe your creativity's been dampened a bit, but I can tell you it's definitely still there, and we can bring it back.
Here are ten tips on boosting your creativity. Some of these are probably a bit different than what you've read before.
- Be optimistic. Glass half full. Look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Look for the silver lining in everything. It's difficult to feel inspired when you're feeling negative.
- Do anything you possibly can think of to boost your self-confidence. Starting with your body posture, sit up straight, look up instead of down, put your hands on your hips instead of crossing them. It sounds a little offbeat, but it works along the lines of "fake it til you make it." Smile, even if you don't feel like smiling. All of these things will help you feel better. Wear clothes that make you happy and feel confident. Fix your hair. If you're home all day, take a shower and get dressed like you're going to go out.
- Start with small, easy challenges, and do this daily. Every day, pick three tasks that you need to accomplish, write them down and cross them off as you do them. Anything counts. Making a phone call to schedule an appointment. Pay a bill. Start a load of laundry. Start your day off with accomplishing something, and you'll be well on your way to accomplishing more. In fact, I doubt you'll stick to just three tasks at that point, but three isn't an overwhelming number, and you'll feel like you've done something.
- If you do more than you wrote down on your list, write it down after the fact and cross it off! I know it sounds silly, but trust me, it's a great mind trick. We sometimes don't realize how much we accomplish in a day unless we look at it in writing.
- Spend some time cleaning. This is one that works for me. I keep finding myself in this catch 22, where cleaning takes time away from making, but if I let the house get too messy I have a hard time making anything because all I can think about is the mess. It's definitely a balance. So do a quick pick up around the house, vacuum, get the dishes out of your sink and into the dishwasher, etc.
- Spend a little time reflecting. In fact, I'm going to set up a challenge for myself with this. Every morning, on IG, I'm going to post a prompt to help you reflect or to boost your creative thinking. You can use it for meditation, you can journal with it, maybe just have it sit in the back of your mind.
- Hold yourself accountable to someone else. This is one that helps me a lot. When you're at work, you're held accountable to your team leader. When you were in school, the teacher held you accountable. So if you're like me and you're home every day, there's nobody there to hold you accountable but yourself. Some people are great with self-motivation, but even they have days/weeks where they don't feel up to it. And that can depend on the what as well. I'm not great about motivating myself to clean, but I'm held accountable when I'm expecting guests. Join an exchange club (needle felters, go join the monthly needle felting exchange group on Facebook). Even if you can't think of anything to make, there's a monthly theme that helps to give yourself direction. Create your own challenges and tell people about it (see #6). You're more likely to do it if you feel like someone else is going to hold you accountable for it.
- Rid yourself of perfectionism. Nobody's perfect, and we're our own worst critics. #1 will help you with this because you'll be able to see all the happy accidents. When I was dyeing wool yesterday, as I started to relax a bit about the process, the colors became so much more fun, especially the best happy accident which came out looking tie-dye, and I'm sure I would've never figured it out if I was obsessed with getting perfect batches or tried to do it on purpose. My best work comes when I'm having fun and I'm not intentional about it.
- Collect things that inspire you. If you need a bit of help with this, you can read my weekly Inspiration Sundays posts - maybe you'll find something that inspires you in my list of top ten?
- Set the mood! Put on your favorite music. Light a candle (or burn incense or use a diffuser, whatever is your thing). Pick out your "creative outfit" that you'll always wear whenever you are ready to make something - your mind will create an association with that outfit that will start to work as a creativity boost in itself. Dance. Sing. Surround yourself with art, maybe the stuff you collected with #9? Do you remember how you felt when you walked into your favorite class in school? My favorite was the art room - seeing all the paints and papers and materials, the huge shelves with still life objects, the big printing press in the back put me in the right frame of mind. I get that now when I walk into the art studio where I'll be teaching local classes. Maybe you got that walking into the music room, or biology room, or even lit classes (some teachers cover the walls with lit posters and great quotes). Recreate that in your home.