Creativity is often credited to artists or even those with the highest IQ.
However, while there are certain personalities that tend to be more creative by nature, the truth is, everyone has the potential to be and become more creative!
Creativity is, in fact, an attribute that can be cultivated in and through your daily life.
This goes for the teacher who needs creativity to help the struggling student; the politician addressing issues in society; an engineer working within the constraints of limited resources; the artist seeking to transmit a message that will transcend what’s visible to the eye.
In all the facets of a society, the kingdom of God is to be brought forth through each one of us exercising our creativity within the capacity we’ve been gifted in and called to.
One of the many things we do here at YWAM Mazatlan is something we call "Art Evangelism."
As God’s representatives, we have the ability to communicate an alternate reality in contrast to the problems around us; to see beyond that which is and manifest that which God dreams to be.
For this, we need imagination, innovation and collaboration. For this, we need creative solutions!
Now, there’s a fascinating explanation of what all happens in your brain when creative thoughts form—it involves left and right-brain function; drawing from the brain’s memory network and recognizing unusual connections; there’s diversion and conversion of thought… and So. Much. More!
Nevertheless, if you’re like me and have ever clicked on a recipe link because the picture looked so good but then you have to scroll through countless paragraphs of blog in order to even get to the recipe… it can be, well, quite exasperating! So, I’ll save you time and get right to it.
Just know that in the end, creativity is very much about problem-solving and recognizing relationships—two things that all of us encounter and have the ability to grow in.
Here are some things you can put into practice to begin to live more creatively in whatever context you find yourself in.
Oftentimes we think the phrase “take a step back” is only metaphorical.
But actually, taking steps back widens our view, changes our perspective, and can add a creative edge. Seeing something through others’ eyes can help us recognize a new angle, so share what’s going on and get input.
Are you arranging a space? Lie on the floor or stand on a chair.
Trying to solve a relational problem? Instead of just dealing with it in your mind, write out the issue in story form and read it to yourself.
You may choose to draw out the scenario or write a list of words associated with the problem.
In the pursuit of a creative solution, take nothing at face value and try not to get too narrow-sighted or tunnel-visioned.
How often do we just get stuck because we see things black and white, how it “should” be and how it “shouldn’t be”?
In order to change our perspective, we need to let our imagination fly. Remember the cardboard box that as a kid became your shuttle to the moon, or the blankets and chairs that created a fortress for your kingdom?
(Or in my unfortunate case, the dog food kernel my brother gave me that I mistook to be a corn nut.)
The point is, dream a little and view the issue not as it “is” but ask, “What else could this be?,” considering alternative views to the subject at hand.
Get outdoors! Evidence shows time spent in nature heightens creative problem-solving abilities. There’s something about being in a natural environment that helps alleviate mental fatigue and improves how your brain actually functions.
This quality time in nature—which may be as little as a few-minutes’ walk through a park or a full week camping in the wilderness—will result in the overall improvement of your mood.
It can also result in enhanced memory function and it may adjust your sense of time, both of which are factors that lend to increased creativity.
Immersing yourself in nature will help your brain enter a restful state and begin to see new possibilities. You may even find yourself inspired by nature’s own creative process itself!
Being open to experiences/new experiences is central to creativity. Those who explore their inner and outer world have been shown to have greater creative achievement.
Be open to encountering ideas and emotions, and be okay with getting out of your comfort zone. When you expose yourself to non-familiar experiences, this can generate new ideas and perspectives, and help boost creativity.
Be curious. Ask questions. Listen to people’s stories. Be humble and open to learning something new.
Expose yourself to a different culture, learn a new language, sample a new food, listen to a different style of music, or try a different spiritual discipline. These can all be ways to exercise greater openness and add to your own creative journey.
Really? Yep! Here’s your chance to go wild! There’s a misconception that play is the opposite of “work” but in all reality, play not only leads to several health and social benefits, it also increases productivity and innovation in the workplace.
We can see this modeled even within the largest corporations (look at any of the Google offices if you don’t believe me).
Influenced by the great Einstein himself, education advocate Neville Scarfe proposed that “the highest form of research is essentially play”—in coming up with something creative, you have to have certain play with ideas and associations.
In addition to that, a healthy playtime in the literal sense of play actually connects to creativity. Exploration and experimentation are factors in the creative process, and are readily available through play.
So, grab some modeling clay, build a gadget out of LEGOs, hang out with some kids, play hide-and-seek with your coworkers, or spend a few minutes playing an improv game. Here it’s not a matter of intense competition, rather connecting with others and using your imagination.
Take advantage of the experience of play as a means to spark elements of creativity in your life, and do your soul, body, and spirit a great deal of good while you’re at it. (Some studies even link healthy play patterns to more positive interpersonal relationships, empathy, good stress management, resilience and overall well-being.)
This by no means an exhaustive list of what’s involved in the creative process. However, you may be surprised by the new connections of thought you find yourself able to make by incorporating these four elements to your lifestyle and area of vocation.
If you happen to be an artist, here’s an opportunity for you to grow in creativity and artistry and how you can use your passion for art to extend the kingdom of God.
Whoever you are, I hope you’ll come into more wholeness and hopefulness as you encounter a stream of creative possibilities.
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