“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ― Walt Disney Company
I wish I could take a vacation from my mind, just leave it home and breathe without wondering about everything there is to wonder about. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all my thoughts, projects, ideas and sometimes I feel underwhelmed, not motivated enough to get something going. I think, what if I can spring clean my mind and get right with my creative thoughts each and every time I need to?
According to the gurus of positive psychology, the late Dr. Christopher Peterson and UPENN professor Martin Seligman, the act of creativity falls under the virtues heading of “wisdom and knowledge.” In their book Character Strengths and Virtues they write that “creativity is a cognitive strength of thinking that is used in novel and productive ways to understand and accomplish things. It is NOT limited to artistic expression alone.” In other words, you don’t have to be a musician or a painter to have creativity or to be creative. Any time you find that you can solve a problem, you are using your creativity.
Where to Begin
“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty, they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” ― Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
Where does one begin to spring clean the mind to discover creativity?
I think it’s important to know that at its core creativity is valuable. This means, “The created product and its creator have brought beauty, elegance and/or function into the world”, so says Drs. Peterson and Seligman. They go on to say that “creativity is trait-like, meaning it’s an everyday creative who can use objects to create something new from something old.”
For example: Someone who rearranges furniture to create more pleasing aesthetics to a room and create better function, or the person that changes an ingredient in a recipe to make it their own dish or someone who can re-purpose one object into something completely new and innovative or decorative. At all times, creativity is and should be fulfilling. Creation on any level just feels good. Just like when you get ready to spring clean your garage or attic, spring cleaning your mind allows for expansive creativity and opens emotional channels toward worlds you have yet to discover.
Tina Turner said it best when she said, “Sometimes you’ve got to let everything else go – purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything…. whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it, because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
In order to gain perspective, ask yourself:
1) What is possible?
2) Who will this affect/benefit?
3) If this doesn’t lead to the result I want, would I still be glad I took the time to work on it?
Your answers should be personal because after all, creativity starts within your heart, mind, environment, and soul depending on where the influences can flow from. If you are going to benefit, if you are going to be positively affected, if this is important to you, then everyone around you will benefit as well.
Every day “creatives” leave room for curiosity, open-mindedness and critical thinking. Are you an “in the box every day creative” meaning you only seek creativity within the structure of your daily routines or an “out of the box everyday creative” meaning that you follow where your thoughts and ideas lead you whether it is on the to-do list for the day or a stimulus in your environment that caught your imagination? I am learning to be an out of the box every day creative by practicing it. I stay present in my daily agenda and goals but within those goals I let myself stay with a thought a lot longer than usual; I try not to only stick to my agenda, I do the creative things that I feel passionate about and allow myself to explore more deeply the things I am curious about, and I allow myself time to breathe and get clear so that I can be ready for the next idea to wash over me.
When I work with clients to help them get organized, whether in their home or office or helping them to make difficult decisions, the first thing we do together is get clear on the goals as a team and take a deep breath. I have seen that a key element to getting free in creativity is having someone by your side to catch you when you fall.
Best- selling author, Michael Neill says,
“If we treat whatever stands in our way as a challenge, we can bring the full creative resources of our mind to bear on the situation and find ways to get over, around, or through it.”
What are some ideas we can all practice toward becoming more creative? To free our minds; to spring clean what we believe we know and allow for the unknown to propel us toward new discoveries?
10 Stepping Stones to Becoming more Creative
Meditation breathing: This allows for you to begin the positive open-minded flow of ideas.
Visualize: What do you want? Get clear, see your ideas. Make a vision board that shows in pictures, drawings and writing all that you intend and hope for.
Stay present: Don’t spring too far ahead of your ideas that you start to feel overwhelmed or try not to fall too far behind that you become overwhelmed with trying to catch up.
Don’t forget your funny bone: According to Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher of the successful book, “The Levity Effect”, incorporate fun and humor into your agenda and project. Bring fun snacks, spin around in your chair while brainstorming, tell a joke, keep fun toys nearby like silly putty, paper airplanes, etc., play great music. Lightening up and approaching from a fun point of view allows for out of the box thinking and powerful creativity.
Journal your journey: This will allow you to keep moving your thoughts and creativity forward and to remember what you want to achieve without the pressure of cluttering your agenda or goals.
Get physical: Use warm up exercises to get you ready for the days’ tasks even if it’s physical tasks. This gets your mind, your heart and muscles determined and ready. It lets your happy cells and happy hormones (endorphins) flow through you to feel energized toward your accomplishments. Physical can also mean taking a trip to a library, museum, park to help you see even more of what your imagination needs to propel you toward your creativity.
Recruit: If your task is too big for just you, ask for help. “The more the merrier” cliché applies here.
Time Out: Music breaks, food breaks, journaling breaks, walking breaks. BUT…. be mindful of your break time. Taking too much time could cause your momentum to suffer.
Step back, take notice: Allow for perspective and evaluation. Allow yourself to feel grateful for every tiny step you take toward your goal. Allow gratitude for your interpretation, your voice, your spirit.
Celebrate: Acknowledge your success by celebrating your every accomplishment. Creativity is a celebration, a great and wonderful, out loud reflection of YOU. Be proud and celebrate.
Inspiration to Get You Started
I recently came across a story that I think gets to the heart of creativity:
An Old Sioux Legend
In ancient times, the Creator wanted to hide something from the humans until they were ready to see it. He gathered all the other creatures of creation to ask for their advice.
The eagle said, “Give it to me and I will take it to the highest mountain in all the land,” but the Creator said, “No, one day they will conquer the mountains and find it.”
The salmon said, “Leave it with me and I will hide it at the very bottom of the ocean,” but the Creator said, “No, for humans are explorers at heart, and one day they will go there, too.”
The Buffalo said, “I will take it and bury it in the very heart of the Great Plains,” but the Creator said, “No, for one day even the skin of the earth will be ripped open, and they will find it there.”
The creatures of creation were stumped, but then an old blind mole spoke up. “Why don’t you put it inside them—that’s the last place they’ll look.”
The Creator said, “It is done.”
In the very popular book “The Artist’s Way”, author and teacher Julia Cameron created a list of 10 basic principles of creativity. The one that resonates with me the most, the one that inspires me is her #4 principle: “We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to create.”
The Vietnamese Zen Buddist monk, teacher, author, poet, Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Every thought you produce (create), anything you say (write, sing, etc…), any action you do, it bears your signature (creativity).”
Deepak Chopra writes, “The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.”
To all these great and wonderful inspirational thoughts and words I say, never stop creating who you are and who you want to be. No one suffers for your intuition, your courage, or your curiosity.
Spring is a great time for renewal, regeneration, release. Clean out what is holding you back and get your creativity on.
Call to Action
What did you take away from the Old Sioux Legend?
How can you use this legend to spark your creativity?
What would you like to explore this year, this spring, that you have been holding yourself back from exploring?
I challenge you to spring clean your mind and explore the endless possibilities of what you can allow yourself to see and what you allow yourself to find.
Photo Credits: Eniko Kis, Guilherme Stecanella, Ian Schneider, Ben White, Mike Tinnion, Michael Marcagi, rawpixel, Nathan Demlao, Mikito Tateisi, Kelsey Chance
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