Perhaps it's a tad dramatic to assert that a lack of creativity will result in some form of internal death but hear me out because I'm pretty sure it's true.
First, let's define what it means to be creative. Creativity is not about talent or know-how. It's not synonymous with a skill set or going to art galleries or performing in masterpiece theatre.
Creativity in its essence is about using the imagination in an actionable way. It's about coming up with original ideas, pushing the boundaries and figuring out new ways to approach the world.
Every person is creative. You can either learn how to bring forth your creativity or you can cement over it. Either way, creativity is available to you and if you choose to explore it, chances are your daily life will feel richer and more expansive as a result.
But I'm no Picasso
You don't need to be a painter or a poet to express your abundant creativity. Problem solving, compromising, balancing schedules and running families all require heaps of creative prowess. Trying a new recipe, negotiating with your kids, figuring out how to stretch your last $20 - these are all ways of actioning your imagination.
If you're looking for even more creative expressions outside of the wealth that is daily life, you can bring in some low-tech tasks. Draw a picture for the pleasure of it, take ten minutes to journal, make potato stamps or build something. Find things that you enjoy and do them just for you.
Forget about the outcome
In a world that demands results and efficiency and for A to get you to B and beyond, it's crucial to remember that creating is important in and of itself. It doesn't need to earn you money or praise and it doesn't need value placed on it by you or someone you know.
Creativity is about feeding your soul. This may sound way too airy but hear me out. You feed your body food to stay alive. Your soul needs food too but instead of sandwiches it prefers the flavour of enriching experiences. Feed your soul by doing things that bring happiness and freedom and freshness into your life.
Freedom through creativity
I have experienced firsthand the internal withering that comes from slinking away from a creative existence. I have also felt the expansiveness, the joy and delight that comes from choosing imagination and possibility. I don't think it's too dramatic or petulant to say that life without imagination sucks.
Creativity is about more than just being a contemporary dancer or a classical composer. It's about curiosity, openness and recognizing that there are countless ways to approach every situation in life. Feed yourself a soul-sandwich by acknowledging that the world is full of possibilities and that you too are a trove, a magnificent wealth, of creative energy.
Check out Lacey's ebook Yoga + Creativity to explore your own creative energy through the practice of yoga.
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Being curious is the best way to become more insightful, says Klein, and a lack of insight often comes from being in a passive and disinterested state of mind. "Curiosity is another engine of insight," says Klein. "People who get insights see something that's a little bit off, and instead of ignoring it, they're curious about it. Curiosity keeps our mind engaged to work out the implications."
A 2012 psychological study found that daydreaming -- passive though it may seem -- actually involves a very active brain state, which is why the wandering mind can sometimes stumble upon brilliant insights and sudden connections. The researchers credit this phenomenon to the fact that daydreaming correlates with our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Recent neuroscience research has also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes involved in imagination and creativity. "I worry about people who spend all their empty time when they're not in conversations listening to music or podcasts or things like that, and not leaving any space to just daydream," says Klein.
"Be more alert to anomalies," Klein says, "rather than quickly explaining them away and staying in your comfort zone." We tend to ignore coincidences or not think much of them, because they're often meaningless, says Klein. But looking for coincidences is a powerful way to make surprising connections. "There's a belief that correlation doesn't imply causality, which is true. People see all sorts of correlations in coincides that turn out to be spurious, so they get a bad reputation," Klein says. "But in my work I find that a lot of insights are fed by people spotting coincidences and making assumptions, and instead of just saying 'It must be true,' doing to follow-up work to find out if it's true."
Insights can occur when we encounter ideas that don't make sense to us. Questioning contradictions is another path to epiphanies. Whereas curiosity makes us wonder, contradiction causes us to doubt -- and it can be another powerful way to gain insights. "Our tendency when we hit a contradiction that involves things we believe we understand well is to say, 'Well, that must an anomaly.' We have a marvelous set of techniques for explaining away inconvenient facts," says Klein. "The contradiction only leads to an insight when people take it seriously enough to explore it a bit."
Daydreaming isn’t the only state of mind that can lead to insights. "I've found a number of examples where people were under tremendous pressure and came up with marvelous insights," says Klein. "We should embrace urgency." This urgency forces people to look at things they'd otherwise ignore (what Klein refers to as "creative desperation"), and when they gain an insight, encourages them to act on it right away. This is frequently how chess grand masters try an unusual move that ends up being successful and winning the game for them. "The problem with too many organizations is that they don't feel any pressure to act on the insights they've had," says Klein. "They act like they have all the time in the world and then they end up going out of business."