Quote of the day

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Image courtesy of Andy Bahn

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Steve Jobs

Schoolroom creativity

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Image courtesy of Tiffany Szerpicki

In these times of innovation and creativity, why is it more and more younger people are struggling to be creative? I feel the schoolroom environment that forces teachers to teach to tests and forces students to conform to the school districts’ status quo does not teach people how to be creative. Creativity is not born with each of us. We all have the ability to learn creative thinking.

Everyone can be creative. We can all learn to be creative. However, conformity condemns creative thinking. Some of us encountered negativity when we were creative as children. This taught us to not be different or creative. Often, this happens in school. I heard a story of a young boy in first grade. He was told, along with the rest of his class, to draw his house. The rest of the class drew the tradition block and triangle image associated with children’s art. The boy didn’t draw the traditional image. He drew the floor plan of his house, much like blueprint. That was how he saw his house. Since his drawing was different and did not conform to the status quo, his teacher told him he wrong. I don’t know how that negativity affected this boy but I can guess the impact will affect him for the rest of his life. His interpretation of the directions was discouraged. He was taught to not be different, to conform.

Young people like to create. With encouragement, creativity blossoms. Negative comments about a creative project wears down and smothers creativity, not just in young people but in everyone. All people have the desire to create, we just need to find the medium that works for us. The school systems needs to be changed to include activities that encourage creative thinking. Activities like art and music are as important as math, grammar and science. Art and science work together to creative the world we live in today. Art and science teach adaptability and flexibility which lead to creative thinking and  stronger problem solving skills.

What can be done to off-set the negativity? Positive reinforcement. Encourage your children in their attempts at creativity. Encourage your co-workers when they have an alternative solution. Go be creative on your own. This doesn’t mean go draw a picture of your house- or the floor plan- but can be trying a new recipe. It can be trying a software program. It can dancing to the music on the radio. When ever you see creativity in action, don’t frown or be negative. Smile and offer positive words of encouragement.

Imagination

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Image courtesy of Svilen Milev

Merriam-Webster defines imagination as “1. the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. 2. a) creative ability, b) ability to confront and deal with a problem c) the thinking or active mind.” We have the power of our imagination to perceive reality in a different way. Perceiving reality is thinking outside of the box. Thinking outside of the box is creative thinking.

Using our imagination to create an image in heads aids in our problem solving skills. I think we forget how important our imagination is and it affects our abilities to overcome challenges in our life. Indulging our imagination is not a waste of time but, I believe, a way to stimulate our brains and improve our problem solving skills. How we use our imagination can have positive and negative results. Using our imagination to fixate on a person or a problem can magnify the issues surrounding the reasons we are focusing on and prevent us from using our problem solving skills to see a solution. This would be a negative result. A positive result would be one where you are able to step away from a situation, refresh you outlook and tap into the wealth of creative thinking skills we each have.

Using our imagination can also be relaxing. Picture your favorite place to visit. Whenever you are stressed and tensed, go visit that place in your mind. People it with your loved ones. Decorate it with happy memories and cheerful colors. Add scents. Smells play a large part in our memories and associates with happier times. Make that place your refuge to take your time-outs in. Go for a visit and refresh yourself. When you step back into reality, you will have changed your perspective and will be able to access your ability to think creatively.

Creative Nonsense

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I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” Dr. Seuss

Creative people can change their perspective. They can look at the world or a problem through the wrong end of a telescope. It makes a difference and changes the view. Step back and look at a problem sideways. Turn it upside down. Change your perspective. This can make you laugh. Laughter breaks tension and can lift the blinders that narrow our focus so we can’t see the possibilities that are waiting for us.

Hold up your telescope and look through the wrong end. How does the world look to you? How does it change your perspective? The view is distant but there are more things that we couldn’t see before when everything was close up. These things are possibilities. Stress and tension while struggling with a project or a problem closes the door to creative thinking. Knowing when to step back, to step out of the situation and change your perspective is the key to unlocking the door shutting away creativity. That key can be nonsense. Creative nonsense is constructive silliness that changes your perspective by looking at things differently and breaking tension that opens you up to possibilities. Creative nonsense is being able to see possibilities that couldn’t be seen when we were so focused and stuck.

I don’t have any suggestions for creative nonsense that will work for you. You have to find those for yourself because we are individuals. I have been heard reciting lines from a favorite comedy episode that I find funny, partly because of the looks I get from people who walk in on this display. Knowing I am being silly helps me relax so I can think of an alternative way of tackling the problem in front of me. Creative nonsense can be in your head, something only you know, if you are concerned about co-workers and friends thinking you’ve gone loopy. Perhaps, you can imagine your programs battling one another, with sound effects, of course. Creative nonsense is making yourself look at the world differently.

Creative nonsense is not just for art or for work. Creative nonsense can be applied to your daily life. Embracing creative nonsense teaches you to recognize what works for you. Jump in rain puddles, play in water fountains, be silly with your children- let them mummify you in toilet paper. Go build a sheet fort in your family room and have a picnic. Getting away from things, if just for a short time, changes your perspective, lifts tensions and can help you to see possibilities where you didn’t think any existed before. Sometimes, creativity is simply looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Fear and doing IT.

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Image courtesy of Nicholas Dench

The scariest moment is always just before you start.Stephen King

You are ready to start IT. You have your tools. You can’t waste any more time finding things that need to be done. You are going to do IT…then, nothing happens. In front of you is IT, staring at you, waiting. What is IT? IT is your next project waiting to come to life. IT is scary. What if IT goes wrong? What if I fail? What if I make a mistake and do the wrong thing? IT is scary. Why?

Why is IT scary? Fear of doing IT. Fear, plain and simple. The fear of starting, of taking action, of making mistakes, keeps us from ever beginning a creative project.

Fear keeps us from being creative. Fear stifles creativity. Doubts surface and thoughts that we can’t do IT replace the creative inspiration demanding to be released. The blank screen staring at us, taunting us, demanding action, the pile of fabric, the skein of yarn, or the blank canvas, wait for the first step, waiting to start. Fear keeps us from taking action.

We want to do IT. We really want to do IT. We want to create whatever IT is that is demanding us to act. What to do?

My suggestion is simple but just as scary- take a deep breath and start. Type words on the screen or write words on paper, just start. Click the software feature and engage. Pick up you paint brush, scissors, pencils or pens and take action. If you need to, tell yourself, this is a rough draft. It doesn’t have to be right or perfect because it’s just a rough draft, the first time. After the first time, things get better. Give yourself permission to go and do IT. You will never know what you can do if you don’t start and do IT.

Inspiration, where are you?

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Image courtesy of Gerla Brakkee

Creative people seem to be full of inspiration. Creative people can sit in their car in traffic and be inspired. So it would seem. That isn’t really true though.Why do creative people always seem to be inspired? Creative people change their perspective. They look at things in a different way. Sometimes, that is all it takes to find inspiration.

Other times, creative people need to distance ourselves from what we are frustrated with. Set aside the Gordian knot current causing the vexation.

How can you find inspiration when you are frustrated? Step away for a moment. If you are at an office, take a break, walk around the building if you can, then go back to the task. Fresh air and exercise and stepping away changes your perspective. It may only be a few minutes, but that break allows our eyes to rest, our minds to change gears, and for our bodies to relax. When we are tense, frustration can become worse. When we are relaxed, creativity flows.

Change your perspective and see if you are inspired.