Creativity is the ability to express your deepest thoughts and feelings in such a way as to inspire, accomplish a goal, think outside the box, or find a new and better solution.
Yet most of us think of creativity in the form of art such as, a beautiful painting, a soothing piece of music, an intriguing sculpture and so on. Really, creativity is a part of every day life.
At home you are being creative when you dream, when you play with your children, and when you decorate your house for the holidays. At work you are being creative when you find new solutions to problems, when you fix something nobody else could, when you organize your office, when you decorate your desk, and so on.
Creativity is all around us, all the time. People who come into my house say they feel happy and energized. Eventually they realize it’s the bright colors, the beautiful decorations, the flowers everywhere that are making them feel that way. Often they say they are going to go home and decorate their house too – that’s creativity. My sister is currently living in a college dorm; it’s a very small space. Yet, she has found some very innovative ways to not only decorate it, but find space for storage as well – that’s creativity. My daughter just carved a pumpkin and made it look like Cinderella’s carriage. She used leaves to decorate the top, pumpkin seeds around the windows and door, and smaller pumpkins for wheels – that’s creativity. My dad owns a yellow corvette and he painted a mural on the hood. In fact he paints on the walls inside his house, on his clothes, and pretty much anything he can get his hands on – that’s creativity.
It may seem that creativity runs in my family. Perhaps it does, but I believe that creativity is present in everyone; it’s an inward human drive that we all possess. Sometimes people just have a hard time tapping into their creativity. When this happens to someone I know I suggest exercise. You need to exercise your creativity; just like you would exercise your muscles to strengthen them you must also exercise your creativity to expand its possibilities.
Try new things. Draw, paint, decorate your house, carve a pumpkin, cook something new, write a poem or story, write in a journal, go out into nature and take some photos, plan a party, find a way to make your work more fun, or color a picture with your child. There a million things you could do to build your creativity.
Sometimes watching someone else be creative helps as well. This past weekend I went to visit family in the city. We went out to eat and there was a man drawing caricatures in the restaurant. So we posed for him and he drew us as cartoon characters. We were amazed at how fast his hands moved, how sure he was with each stroke of his pen. He sat there so focused, so completely in the moment. According to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a moment like that is called being in the flow. He says it’s a state of complete immersion in an activity.
Csíkszentmihályi believes that “flow” is the key to happiness. Have you ever had a moment of flow? Perhaps while working on something that was really important to you, time flew by, and solutions just came to you. As a writer, moments like that happen to me often. Sometimes I’ll sit down to write something and before I know it an hour has gone by like it was only a few minutes and the words had just poured out one after another.
It’s what artist Akiane Kramarik, a 17-year old child prodigy who started painting at age 5, feels when she picks up a paintbrush and as she puts it “co-creates with God” her amazing paintings. It’s what athletes feel when they are running a race and the wind is rushing over their face and their muscles are tensing throughout their body and their heart is beating faster and faster. All of this is creativity; it’s truly getting in touch with yourself and connecting with the divine.
Csíkszentmihályi said that in study after study, done by himself and others, they found that the experience of flow is described the same way by men and women, old and young, rich and poor, in every culture and of every race. Creativity, purpose, and happiness is not limited by who you are, where you live, or how much money you have.
Find what makes you come alive, what makes you feel good, what makes time fly by when you are doing it, what makes you happy, and do it. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. The better you get at doing something; the more you will inspire others to do the same – get in the flow.
Tori Vigil is an author, inspirational speaker, and reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.