What is creativity? Creativity is the state of mind or an innate ability to produce something new or novel by using the imagination. According to some sources, creativity is a term that generally refers to a richness of ideas and originality of thinking.
Is creativity a genetic trait like blue eyes and blond hair that only specific people have? For decades, scientists have been toying with the notion that genes may have a role to play in developing creative abilities in individuals; however, even with all the studies suggesting a link between genes and creativity, the human brain’s complexity does not demonstrate an on-off switch of a “creativity gene”.
There is no such gene, but rather varying combinations of genetic code in association with neurotransmitters and brain structures, which allow individuals to process sensory information differently, to synthesize new ideas and think divergently. Creative ability is about being able to form new associations and quickly string together divergent ideas to come up with unique insights; so, while it seems creative geniuses are born rather than made, it does not mean that they do not have to work to achieve and reach their fullest potential.
Each individual is unique and will have varying degrees of abilities and intelligence. We can no more say that we were born without any creative ability, as we can say we were born without any physical or intellectual ability. As babies, we are like sponges. We absorb everything we are able to perceive. No one knows with any certainty what seeds we have within us that only need to be nurtured and cultivated the right way in order to blossom. Furthermore, creativity is quite a complicated and convoluted seed. According to Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, we are able to learn and develop through nine known types of intelligence: 1) Naturalist; 2) Musical; 3) Logical–Mathematical; 4) Existential; 5) Interpersonal; 6) Bodily–Kinesthetic; 7) Linguistic; 8) Intra-personal; 9) Visual–Spatial.
What does a highly creative person look like? Highly creative people will have more than one or two of characteristics listed below, and the traits they exhibit are usually very noticeable. What also distinguishes the highly creative from those of us who are simply creative is the quality of persistence. Many of us have unusual or novel ideas, but the highly creative act on and follow through with theirs.
Inquisitive; inventive; imaginative; optimistic; observant and pay close attention to their environment, non-conforming (may have a regular job only as needed to support the creative projects); enthusiastic; energetic; expressive (often to a fault); determined; bold; open to possibilities; not attached to one idea; comfortable with surprises (and get excited with unexpected outcomes); thrive on new experiences, risk-takers; display intellectual playfulness; wonder and fantasize aloud (vocalizing what-if this or that); manipulate ideas by easily changing, elaborating, adapting, improving, or modifying the original idea or the ideas of others; independent; assertive; emotionally sensitive to beauty and visibly moved aesthetic experiences; display keen sense of humor (sometimes what they find amusing may appear bizarre, inappropriate, or irreverent to others.).
Psychological studies of highly creative people have shown that many have a strong interest in apparent disorder, contradiction, and imbalance, which seem to be perceived as challenges. Such people may have an exceptionally deep, broad, and flexible awareness of themselves. Creative people see the world differently than most. At the same time, creative people are willing to share what they see and how they interpret it with the rest of the world. To them, the world has more meaning, more intricacies, more complexity and more possibility than it does for the average person.
Highly creative people believe in the possibility of the impossible. They understand you never really know anything for sure. They see the world filled with endless possibility — and they want to leave their marks. They want to add to the beautiful work of art that life already is.
Highly creative people seem to be “loners”, who are most often engaged in their projects. The reason underlying this “introversion” is that creative individuals have to act on their creativity. Otherwise, they’re left with an itch they can’t scratch. While they do enjoy the company of their friends, they’re also very passionate about their ideas and creations — sometimes to the point of obsession. They want to see their projects come to fruition, which requires alone time with no distractions.
You do not have to identify with all the above characteristics to be considered creative. It really is about being able to SEE things beyond the expected and ordinary. Creatives are those individuals who invent groundbreaking technologies, define innovative techniques, make arts and crafts, compose original music, concoct new meals, establish progressive ideas, scribe stories, and so much more. Creatives have the ability to look at things differently, from different angles and perspectives. Creatives indulge in brainstorming ideas and develop, expound, and employ them. Creatives thrive when presented with limitations. Necessity is the mother of invention and creativity. When you need to measure an item and you don’t have a ruler; you get creative and use an item with a known measurement to solve your predicament. Let us not sell ourselves short. We all have some innate creative abilities. Like any other skill, we need to practice and develop them. (I will share some methods I use in my next article.) We don’t have to be creative geniuses or highly creative to create with proficiency and with pleasure. Creativity is what you make of it.
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