Clarifying creativity, stretching it, and applying inspiration.

03-mar20_creativityWhat 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. The creative ability is that capacity to form new associations and quickly string together different and/or conflicting ideas to come up with unique insights. 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 intelligences. 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. (The Nine Types of Intelligence)

What makes an individual a highly creative person? 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.

Qualities of a highly creative person include: Inquisitiveness; inventiveness; imaginative; optimistic; observant and pay close attention to their environment; energetic; non-conforming (may have a regular job only as needed to support the creative projects); enthusiastic; 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. 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. Creativity, as with other aspects of your brain and body, will improve with practice and exercise drills. Here are 3 creativity workout drills to get you started today. To get the most out of these drills, you will want to have paper, a notebook, a sketchbook, or a journal and a pen or pencil with which to write and draw.

  1. The RANDOM BRAINSTORM drill…select a book or magazine from your stash and open it to a random page. Close your eyes and select a word, phrase or image. Use that word, phrase or image as a prompt to brainstorm/free-associate by writing anything that comes to your mind easily as a result of the prompt. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes. This drill encourages you to write freely without censorship, which promotes your creative ability by permitting you to make associations to concepts or notions you would not have made if you overthought a prompt. Repeat this drill as often as you like.
  2. The TOPSY-TURVY drill…select an image or object from any source. Turn it upside-down or in any direction other than its original standard position. Close your eyes for a few seconds before your study the image or object in its new orientation. Describe what you see. It is fun to look at things upside down or sideways to see if you see anything new or different. Now, try drawing what you see. Do this slowly and deliberately, but do not worry about being precise or perfect. This drill trains your brain to look at things differently. Repeat this drill as often as you like.
  3. The NOMENCLATURE drill…in this exercise you get to make up your own words. The best way to start this drill is to take two similarly defined words and merge them. Example: fantastic and fabulous = FANTABULOUS. Gossip columnists do this with celebrity couple names; remember BENNIFER was used whenever Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez stepped out together as a couple. After merging 2 words, try merging 3 words together to make new words. This drill develops your skills to synthesize, which is a quality of creativity. Repeat this drill as often as you like.

Feel free to modify these exercises to fit the materials you have on hand. As long as you are doing some form of brainstorming/free-association; looking at things differently; and synthesizing new terms; then, you are stretching your creativity muscles. The more you do these drills, the easier it will be for you to be more creative, imaginative, and inventive. More importantly, have fun with these drills.

What role does inspiration play in creativity?

Inspiration is an internal movement or feeling that propels people to act, behave, or perform. It is a positive emotional state that stimulate us into motion because our hearts are tickled with delight. Inspiration is what fuels our spirit to achieve our goals and attain our dream. Creativity emerges through inspiration as our spirit is compelled to proceed and embark upon a project or journey. The root word of inspiration comes from a term meaning divine guidance; and, this inner guidance may indeed emanate from God. Inspiration may also originate from nature, meditating, people, events, music, film, art, education, and so on. Inspiration can come from anything, especially if it something brand new to us.

How do you feel your way and move into your inspiration?

Nature is one of the best sources of inspiration as everything in nature is balanced so beautifully. The cycle of life and the movement of energy in nature is wonderfully orchestrated, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Energy flows from the nutrients of the soil into the roots of plants and into the systems of animals. As animals pass waste (through their systems) or die, their wastes are broken down by bacteria back to the nutrients that are then returned to the soil. Standing in the midst of such bustling activity is truly inspirational.

As we are upon the vernal equinox we can see evidences of the springtime awakenings as apical meristems sprout forward on every tree and shrub. The songbirds are returning and they are starting to nest. The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and thus the inspiration flows.

Meditating or calmly sitting in peace can bring inspiration. After we are able to quiet our mind, real inspiration from our soul awakens and emerges. For many, sitting in silence and allowing the mind to quiet down is difficult. Gentle, instrumental music playing faintly in the background can be beneficial, as we sit in a comfortable position and breathe deeply…inhaling and exhaling consciously and steadily.

When there is too much chatter in your mind, an effective activity to do before you attempt to meditate is to transcribe all the thoughts that are floating around in your mind onto a notepad or into a journal. You can also doodle, scribble or simply make marks until you feel your mind placated and soothed. Then, try meditating again. Repeating a word, a phrase, or a sound in your mind or aloud softly is another useful way to calm your mind. There are many ways to ease into a peaceful state; simply find what works best for you, so you can mediate and become inspired.

Another source for inspiration is a conversation with a diversity of people. Talking with an array of people, from like-minded individuals to polar opposites, will give us an assortment of perspectives and insights. We don’t need to agree on an issue or topic when we respectfully dialogue with others. This broad spectrum of viewpoints will furnish us with wisdom, which leads to new ideas. Brainstorming with others, especially when there is a goal in mind, is an excellent source of inspiration that may persuade us to act.

Inspiration may come from all genres of music, art, film and events. There are multiple sources of inspiration as long as we are open to receive them. Let us consider trying something new and different such as: a new beverage or food, a new activity or venue, or a new shop or café. Let us strike up a conversation with someone new. What is something you have wanted to try or do? What is stopping you to just try it? It may inspire you.

Some good questions to ask yourself are: What would I do if I had all the courage in the world? Who would I like to emulate and why? What would they do? What do I feel most passionate about? What brings a burning desire in my heart? What fires me up? What or who is my source of inspiration?

Feel your way and flow into your inspiration and creativity; and, practice stretching your imagination to strengthen your creativity.

All rights reserved. ©2017 by A. K. Orobko

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