by Avery Phillips: Creativity isn’t often touted as a skill of priceless value…
We often go straight to the skills wherein we can immediately recognize practical utility when highlighting the strengths of others. However, the reality is that creativity is the crucial ingredient that allows an individual to live a life that is fulfilling and engaging.
Even on a professional level, Psychology Today claims creativity is the skill to have in the 21st century. Which, again, is not the way we usually talk about something like creativity. But for the last decade or so, stories have emerged, even from the leading news sources, recognizing that creativity seems to be dwindling and that that’s a problem.
Just a few years ago, Forbes went so far as to state, “The current model of education in the United States is stifling the creative soul of our children.”
We need creative kids for obvious reasons, one of which being that creative kids become creative adults who have direct impacts on society and culture. Overall, IQs tend to rise, but our CQs, America’s creative quotients, are falling.
Despite the fact that the trend isn’t a positive one, there are some fresh things that can be introduced to one’s life to better foster a creative mindset and ability. And when it is cultivated, it prompts not just personal and professional growth and health, but it also allows adults to better communicate the importance and value of it to the next generation.
Take a Different Kind of Vacation
Travel often makes these kinds of lists because, well, it works. Don’t let the fact that you’re unsurprised to see travel on this list dissuade you from giving it full consideration.
After considering studies on travel and creativity, Brent Crane wrote for The Atlantic, “In general, creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, meaning they’re also sensitive to change: New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
To revitalize the mind though, it’s important to put some extra thought into the process. If your travel plans always include the same weekend at the cabin it’s likely not going to have maximum impact. But, if you journey to a new place in a new way it could make all the difference.
Hit a festival circuit in an RV. This is the ultimate way experience new art and music while also seeing parts of the country that you may never have been to before. Because you’re your own navigator, it requires you to become familiar with the lay of the land in a way that you otherwise would not. So consider what type of festival or festival circuit will speak to you, and then go!
Travel a solo ancestry trip. Few travel alone, and those who do usually cite it as one of their best decisions. Not only does traveling alone allow you to plan things just as you’d like them, it also makes it harder to be distracted. A trip to the homeland of your ancestors provides a view of the old, with which to root the old.
Make a difference. We often use travel to reboot at a very personal level, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but consider making a trip to new place, with the end goal of changing the life of someone with less agency than you have. A site like Go Overseas can help you find a program that fits you and is vetted by other travelers.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Going Outside
Here’s some news no one who has spent any significant time outside will be surprised by: science backs the idea that being outside is good for humans for a number of physical and mental reasons. Being a creative human that never ventures into Mother Nature is not likely to happen.
Pair the mental with the physical. Studies have pointed to a reality wherein physical activity removes mental barriers. How cool is that? Doctors writing for the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry have stated, “Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.”
Thus, the way you way you feel after cardio isn’t just a superficial feeling; that runner’s high is actually promoting your mental health.
Explore above and below. Sometimes, the simplest shift in perspective can boost how you’re feeling and promote creative thinking. Build a homemade telescope and spend your evenings with a sky map, or invest in a metal detector, which is a surefire way to prove to yourself and the kids that even the dirt can hide treasures.
Promote growth and sustainability. A garden may be the easiest way to promote creativity in your life. Feeling connected to the Earth, and enjoying the influence we can have over it isn’t new. Even if it’s just the energy invested in lawn care, it’s energy that could transform into creative juices.
Flex Your Creative Muscles
Creativity takes practice. If things have been stagnant and dormant for a long time, consider going to the source of the dormant part of you and flexing that specific muscle.
Write it out. Writing and thinking are so intertwined that it only makes sense that writing regularly would improve one’s creativity and clarity. Make a concentrated time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and see how it becomes increasingly more comfortable.
Make a meal. Choose a meal that you’re unfamiliar with — something that will stretch your abilities as well as your perception of food. Creative thinking is always fostered when we challenge ourselves to see something in a fresh light.
Become a Yogi. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, “The ancient art of yoga promotes health and well-being, but a great side benefit of regular yoga practice is it dramatically supports and broadens creative expression. Yoga practice and the refining of the inner emotions, while bringing balance to the body, mind and soul, leads to a vivid vibrancy of artistic expression in a person.”
For those struggling with creativity and its role in their lives, it may be tempting to chalk up their troubles to natural inclination: you either have it or you don’t. But, creativity is a quality that can be cultivated. Investment in the things that challenge us and cause us to think and see differently will give great returns.
Adults and children alike can craft lives wherein innovation and imagination are promoted and cultivated. And those who do are the ones who will be least impacted by the creativity crisis of the modern world; they’ll be the pioneers who blaze the path to a novel future.