Creativity carries, for a lot of people, a high sense of unease and trepidation. As a child you may remember sitting before a tin can of felt tip pens and being asked to do the mighty simple task of drawing the apple in front of you. The impulsive quivering sensation that you feel down your spine at the thought of such a task might be the same kind you felt at the thought of visiting the dentist, a painful ordeal. Creativity, it seems can sometimes feel like a members club with the select able to paint, write and create and the rest of us unable to even draw a circle…
The problem with this notion that you are simply a creative or not is that it can be hugely stifling, and following this belief system can be incredibly toxic and disempowering. If we believe we are not creative and therefore don’t attempt to create there seems to immediately be a chicken and egg system of beliefs where trying to think outside the box seems difficult because we disallow ourselves from believing we could possibly be creative. Years of hard schooling, has for many of us squares, taught us to follow mark schemes, strive for the all important ticks and percentages and think according to a curriculum. In some ways this can be a become troubling later in life when faced with challenging situations of life’s natural course, we are required to think of new solutions to the bends in our road but perhaps without the means.
However, if we try to imagine that there is a difference between being creative and being an artist we can open the discussion a bit further. An artist who acquires a craft such as a painter has spent hours, weeks and years acquiring this skill through which they can channel their creativity. But the essence of their art, the creative aspect of their final piece is wholly in their vision and ideas. This artistic vision is something that we are all born with and which we all have as children playing with lego, building things and creating games yet perhaps we’ve forgotten to keep playing games and building things. The craft and creativity are two importantly different things and we all possess the latter.
The need to be creative is an extremely human drive and one which has proven benefits to our health. Firstly it reduces stress as you are able to become absorbed in what you are doing that you forget all the little niggles floating around your head. Furthermore, setting yourself the challenge of making an adventurous meal or painting a picture can greatly build up your confidence by achieving these goals and eventually getting better at the craft through practice. There is also evidence that by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to imagine new ways of thinking and seeing the world you create new brain connections. These can help in the work place through encouraging confidence in your abilities to engage and interact with your work as well as your colleagues. Furthermore by achieving small creative goals for ourselves, we nurture areas of the brain that are crucial for maintaining a healthy central nervous system.
Our bodies change as we get older and our minds are no exception! Though we cant help the ageing process we can take preventative methods to ward off illness linked to old age and help our mental strength. In the extreme, being creative is even linked to reduced chances of developing Alzheimer’s and more subtly, practising creativity aids us think outside the space that we are comfortable in. In doing, this practise prepares us for thinking of alternative ways to deal with any difficult situations we are faced with in life. This is why we should make time for play and creation, never feel guilty about pointlessly doodling or writing a short story as these activities connect us with ourselves and allow us to express thoughts and articulate our vision. Doing these small things are essential to sustaining mental wellbeing and furthering workplace success, keep playing, keep doodling and never stop, you might even get to drawing an apple one day!
Written by: Kate Robinson