How to Make Room For Creative Living
Two things I know to be true: Each of us is born creative and creativity has nothing to do with being artistic.
Almost all of us know that feeling before we embark on something big or small where it will be clear whether we “succeed” or fail. Think about the last time you played a game that required you to draw, act, or sing? Almost all of us apologize for our performance, even when the whole point of the activity is to connect and laugh with each other.
We get in our heads. We turn creative opportunities into wins and losses, and rarely pursue activities where we feel we are set up to fail. Why? Because we’re afraid. We’re not just afraid of failing or being bad. Many of us are actually afraid of being…. good. What happens then?
I truly believe each of us will benefit from making room for creative living. We were BORN creative— it’s how we learned how the most fundamental things work. What goes up must come down. The round things don’t fit in the square hole. If I pull hard, it will break. Our brains practically BEG us to test every aspect of our world, not just materially, but conceptually, emotionally, spiritually. It’s how we went from crawling to standing, how we discovered the healing properties of plants and created fire. We, humans, are inherently curious. And those curiosities often live between understanding connections, between ourselves and the world. And that, my friends, is the heart of creativity.
As this age of technology matures and artificial intelligence makes logical thinking and automated tasks obsolete, conceptual (i.e creative) thinking will be paramount. There will be more room for creative problem-solving in traditionally left-brained fields, and even today, you’ll find the words “innovation” and “design thinking” baked into job descriptions that couldn’t look more different than traditionally “creative” jobs in advertising and marketing.
Most importantly, making space to embrace creativity in whatever form it presents itself to you builds confidence, exercises the mind, and creates new ways of thinking that is both therapeutic and transformative. There are plenty of ways to make room for creative living every day that require just a few minutes each day.
Before you get started, it’s important to make sure you have the right frame of mind around what you will be gaining from taking on a daily creative ritual.
- Remove Expectations. You must remove the burden of creating, which is most often linked to needing to make something that is “good,” “perfect” or “valuable.” That’s not practicing creativity.
- Stay Persistent. The courage to keep pushing forward regardless of negative criticism (internally and externally) will not only benefit your practice but serve you well in life. When we have the confidence to do what we believe in regardless of the approval of others, we are able to find more freedom and confidence in our most authentic selves.
- Keep An Open Mind. Making room for curiosity every day will change the way you look at the world, and in many ways, might help amplify work and passions that have nothing to do with your practice. By continuously looking at the world differently and opening yourself up to possibilities without the fear of the thought being “right” or “wrong” you will find yourself able to see new connections and work through problems with a new point of view.
Curious about getting started? Here are three ways you can practice creative living today at work, home, and with your kids.
When at work: Ask more questions. Remember the last time you were in a meeting that was a complete waste of time? Think of it as an opportunity to find one thing you’re curious to learn more about. Perhaps it’s about a co-worker’s recent trip to Thailand or a hobby a co-worker likes to talk about. You’ll be surprised at how thinking about the questions you could ask will bring new connections, knowledge, and deeper friendships in the workplace.
When at home: Spend 10 minutes doing a stream of consciousness writing. I like to do this at night because I often have exciting, creative, or important dreams following the exercise. I recommend using a pen and paper because it’s not so much about making sense of what you write and more about exercising the many layers of thoughts we can be having all at once. The more you do this, the more in tune with your intuition and subconscious you will be. I like to think it helps with those “magical” connections, otherwise known as the elusive “light bulb” moments we universally recognize as the AH-HA moment.
When with your kids: Build something. Focus on one simple task with your kids. Building with blocks is a great activity because you can find new patterns through the way you stack similar blocks or the color combinations that you’re drawn to. The point is to turn off the adult side of your brain and get curious about the decisions in front of you.
We also suggest looking into our favorite websites and books dedicated to creative living.
- The Color Kind. A website dedicated to helping readers pursue a creative practice, created by my friend (and W&D contributor) Jill Elliott
- Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Without Fear
- Membership sites: Skillshare and Scribd. I use both sites weekly to learn new things and read 1-2 books. It’s been the most important part of my new ritual and learning is what I look forward to most on a daily basis.
If there is one thing to take away from bringing creative living into your life it is that opening yourself up to new connections and ideas might open doors you never understood or considered before. All you have to do is give it a try.