Modern day life stifles our innate creativity - we all have it whether we believe ourselves to be creative or not. The ease with which we can buy whatever our hearts desire at the push of a button means that we often don’t consider creating, repairing or repurposing the things we use in our daily life.
Being creative doesn’t mean that you are good at painting or pottery or any of the activities we often associate with creativity. Creativity can manifest in cooking dinner, planting flowers in your garden, repairing or repurposing something in your home instead of throwing it away.
Being creative can sometimes be seen as a waste of time or a luxury so even those of us who like making things or drawing push it aside as we feel we don’t have time. However, creativity is an essential part of life.
Creativity for Resilience
Being creative makes us resilient. We have become so reliant on someone else supplying our needs that we wouldn’t know how to survive without them.
Most of us are strongly encouraged to do what we are told and follow orders without any deviation, rather than to think for ourselves and make our own decisions based on the facts. This means that we become conditioned to expect to be told what to do and lose our problem solving skills which evolve from our sense of creativity.
Unfortunately this means, when adversity strikes, we often expect someone else to solve the problem for us. Natural disasters, for example, cause havoc wherever they occur but a storm in the UK is often followed by reports of companies not doing enough to help those affected and those affected are having to wait for the help before they can rebuild their lives. However, in ‘poorer, third world’ countries, people are already clearing and rebuilding before the storm has fully abated. These people haven’t lost their creativity as they still use it in their daily lives and are able to recover and adapt after unexpected occurrences by pooling resources within their own community.
Another thing that can squash creativity is the pressure to conform. Being different is often frowned upon or scorned and we all want to feel accepted and loved so we tend to toe the line even if it goes against what we may feel… and after a while you stop feeling the urge to do things differently. But different is good! We are not supposed to all be the same, to do the same things, look the same way. We need variety to survive! And that means embracing who we are and expressing our uniqueness. Imagine how incredibly boring the world would be if it wasn’t for the people that are driven to create, even if it has never been done before.
Being creative makes life interesting and fun!
When was the last time you were completely engrossed in one activity for an hour or even several hours?
Modern day life causes our attention to be constantly pulled from one thing to another. We have phones notifying us constantly of everything and now many people have smart watches so they are literally constantly connected to a device that flashes, vibrates and beeps… and tells us when the phone next to us is ringing! This is really bad for our health and wellbeing. These constant distractions cause lack of focus and make us ungrounded. It can cause sleep related problems, such as insomnia and can lead to a variety of illnesses.
There is a reason why mindfulness is suddenly so popular. Being mindful gives you a well deserved rest but still allows you to get on with everyday activities. You can practice mindfulness at any time such as while brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. However, this can be hard to do when you are not used to it as we tend to go into auto pilot on tasks that we do all the time allowing our minds to wonder.
However, when creating something, the mind is focused on the task. Even if you draw the same thing more than once or create the same item more than once, it will never be identical to any other version whether through design or not. It takes your full attention. And although the mind is fully absorbed in a task, it is just one task and trust me, it feels like such a relief. It can make you feel so much lighter.
Focusing your mind on creating something is a great way for relieving anxiety. It helps to create clarity and at times when you may feel powerless to control what is going on around you, this brings an opportunity to create something that is just yours - something that you have control over.
Enjoy the Process
Whatever you are creating, remember it is not just about the end result, it is about the process. It is not about creating something perfect. Life has become extremely goal oriented and we forget to enjoy the journey. When creating something, you may have an image in mind of what you want to end up with but during the process, you may get new inspiration or something doesn’t quite go according to the initial plan. Just go with it!
The image I have used to represent this blog was my first attempt at creating a mandala while following an online course. I didn’t have a clue how it was going to come out and never imagined it would come out the way it did. I’m thrilled with the overall result but it’s certainly not perfect and that doesn’t matter.
Being creative makes life interesting and allows us to embrace the unexpected wherever it may occur.
If you are not used to being creative, then you may need to give yourself a really big push to start. However, the good news is that it is addictive. Once you start doing something creative, then that innate energy wakes up and we are driven to be creative more often and in other ways of life.
Put aside some time - it doesn’t have to be long. Maybe 30mins or an hour and decide what you would like to do. You may already have something in mind. Maybe you would like to brighten up your garden or patio, maybe you want to create a meal from scratch. If you’re not really sure, maybe check out a local art class or take an online course so you get guided step by step. Both Domestika and Udemy have some great courses online on a variety of topics and almost constant special offers - it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Now this is the big one. You may have read the blog and be thinking “I totally agree with everything you said, but I don’t have the time”. There is only one solution to that - Make Time! We all have the same amount of time - 24 hours in every day, 7 days in a week, etc… and we all have a choice about what we do with that time. And it is exactly that - it is a choice!
Choose an activity that you are drawn to. There are so many ways in which to be creative and we are all different. If you are not sure, try a few different ones over weeks / months and see what you really enjoy.
I created my mandala over a few weeks - just an hour or two at weekends. Once I started, I wanted to do it so it was easier to make that time.
If one of the reasons you can’t find time is because of distractions from family or kids, then maybe set aside time for all of you to do something creative so there isn’t conflict and everyone is engrossed in their own activity during that time.
Whatever time you set aside, turn off distractions for that duration. Make sure it is device free. When I do an online course, I watch the video, then I turn off my laptop and go to do the next step on my own project. So turn off televisions, pop tablets and phones in a different room or turn them off and definitely remove those smart watches (or, even better turn them off completely) and put them far, far away.
Make time for your own wellbeing!