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7 Things I Have Learned About Creativity

Photo Credit: Senjuti Kundu

We all aspire to be more creative. To honor the creative process in my own life, here are some things I've come to know:

1. Creativity is cumulative

Think back to the first time you used ingenuity as a child to meet an objective, which you likely thought of in terms of "getting what I want." You didn't overthink, you just tested your limits by playing at an outcome. And lo and behold, maybe you won big. Or you lost big. It doesn't matter. Whatever occurred became the fabric of you, woven within you to be accessed in every instance since, making the totality of your life experiences then, to now, that much richer for whatever game-of-life you're engaged in today.

2. Don't attach to results

"Finishing a hat. . ." to quote a famous Sondheim lyric, ". . .where there never was a hat," so eloquently describes the rapt nature of a creative pursuit. However, it's important to remember that the "hat" doesn't even need to be the goal. In fact, it doesn't have to be a good hat, a great hat, or even a hat at all, if you think about it. You may have an idea to fashion a hat, and find a cap or scarf will serve you, your client, or your world better. I say, just let whatever "hat" you're working on speak to you in its own way and stay open to being drawn this way or that.

3. Judgment doesn't quantify

If you judge the hat or cap as good or bad, or it doesn't meet with another's approval, this is not a reflection of your worth, another's objectivity, or your inherent value as a creative person. It's information, feedback, a subjective response. Nothing more. It's not right, it's not wrong, it isn't even always applicable or on target. So, why not be bigger than scrutinies of any scale, whether self-imposed or other-directed. Stand apart as if from a viewer's vantage point. Watch things (situations, interpretations) play out in front of you, and don't get caught up in minutiae. Simply stay in your own creative flow.

4. Play, don't "produce"

Yes, just like you were age seven, and not "hunkering down" out of habit. At times, the most exciting ideas I've tapped have come when I'm not working for them. We've all had those moments of insight; I've found that staying in a state of engaged relaxation where I don't consider work - well, work - can be part of the magic of these moments. For me, almost any type of task, large or small, that is approached mindfully has value and can be enjoyed. That's when, out of the blue, a creative impulse can happen when I least expect it.

5. All input is useful

Sometimes the most difficult moments in life can offer creative gifts to be found if we stay open to the directions to which they point. For example, the death of my father brought out qualities in me I hadn't seen while he was still physically present in my world, almost as if I began to autonomically keep him with me somehow. These were the qualities that I missed most, and they occasionally pop up in me at very apropos times, with unwitting alacrity. This not only warms my heart, it adds unexpected meaning to whatever I do. Thanks, Dad.

6. Success and failure have nothing to do with it

Measuring oneself in terms of awards, acknowledgment from peers, and the perks that come from achievement can be heady stuff, and certainly has a place in terms of making a creative mark. Yet these external markers are removed from the creative process itself. And failure is so essential to growth, I wonder sometimes why it is so universally maligned. It can prompt a new vision, or unseen opportunities that may have only come about through the retooling process. I say, never underestimate the power to retool. It can lead to greater discoveries.

7. View yourself as part of a larger energy field

The world is a generative place. There is creative energy in flow at all times throughout the cycle of life, and nature is always evolving and renewing, season to season. We can view ourselves as part of this greater flow, aligned with it, as we experience seasons of birth and rebirth in our creative worlds. The field of universal consciousness is also accessible to us in our work/play, and can serve as "muse" to help catalyze creativity and bring it into fruition. When I am aligned with both nature and consciousness, I can't help but dwell in a more creative space, making each moment more engaging and purposeful. This brings dimension, vitality, and enhanced perspective to both solo and collaborative tasks, which in the best of all possible worlds, may dramatically spark the creative experience for all.


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