Some people say that there is safety in staying in the box — living within established parameters — conventionally, from a tried and true perspective.
Others say that we should break out of the box, create anew and throw security to the wind.
I myself think that there wasn't a box to begin with except the one that we brought about ourselves. I prefer to think of mine as home base, which allows me to reach out creatively when necessary — ordering my soul food to-go, with a little security on the side.
People who create, they say, have been shown to feel more positive emotions and overall well-being and happiness like joy, love, curiosity.
I like the idea of transcending traditional ideas and generating new ones. Making new connections appeals to me. However, I appreciate some of the ideas straight out of the box as well. Coloring in the lines has its place. But then, so does doing your own thing outside of the lines, free from the proverbial box in all aspects of our lives.
You aren’t an artist? Don’t worry about it. Creativity happens to us as well — regular folk out here in the wild. We use our creative juices in everything we do.
A short break for science, and then some debunking of creativity myths
Real brainiacs of the world claim that there is a relationship between creativity and philosophy, mental and neurological processes, cognitive science, personality type, theology, creative ability, mental health, education, geology and the weather. That's all well and good.
But, we don’t care about that. We want to create something, and it’s never too late. Forget all the myths you've heard about creativity that may be holding you back. Let’s de bunk a few of them now:
1. To be creative one needs money
You don’t need money. In fact, lack of money and time has shown to be a certain boon to some types of creativity, which is good news to those of us cutting coupons.
2. High IQ indicates the ability to create
Yeah. Well, I wouldn't know anything about that. Not a thing. All I know is that I did some of my best thinking on the short bus.
3. One must be the creative type
We in the wild are just as creative as those on Broadway or on artist’s row. They are just more practiced. Left brain? Right brain? Your brains work together and creativity does not inhabit one side or the other. They collaborate.
The starving, tortured artists started this myth, and it is somewhat based in reality. Often, the creative are somewhat haunted. But being one of "les miserables" is not a requisite.
5. There is only so much creativity inside us
My wife used to believe that there was just so much air inside us to breathe and would fall asleep holding her breath. She was wrong. There is as much creativity as there is air, so it's OK to breathe.
6. Creativity is for art
Nope. Sciences, accounting, avocations, trades and professions all use creativity. It just looks different.
Leaving the "box" behind
Whatever your temperament is or the talents you possess, you can strengthen your ability to be creative.
1. Open yourself up
Drop preconceived notions — like the whole "box" thing. Use things in a different way.
2. Write it down
Carry a notebook or a recording device around with you — something small to put in your pocket. Record your ideas, even the dumb ones.
3. Create challenges
Challenge yourself to complete assigned tasks in a way no one would expect.
4. Look around
Notice things. Creativity is enhanced by cross training. Try coming at something from a completely different direction. Ask your kids what they think if you want to see this in action. Creative ideas come from doing something usual in an unusual way.
5. Be selective
Focus on the task at hand. Make a little time in a space free from distractions.
6. Think and re-think your strengths
Practice what you do well. Practice what you don’t do well. Practice makes ... well, at least it makes you better.
7. Take a break
A creative solution may be an ice cream cone away. Sometimes they come at night. Aren’t you glad you have that notebook?
8. Partner up
Brainstorming is a wonderful thing. Call up a friend and talk the project over. Sometimes just attaching words to a project is all that’s needed to solve the problem.
9. Change it up
Change your environment. Some people are stimulated by natural settings, so trying something outside can spur a thought on. Change the furniture around. Try painting on the porch or singing in the kitchen. Mix it up a little. You can always change it back.