If I ask you this question, “Do you think you are creative“? How do you answer? Do you immediately think, “I am not creative, I can’t draw, I have no special artistic talent”? I believe we do ourselves a great disservice by telling ourselves we are not creative. It’s like saying, I am not alive.
Whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, we are all born with the characteristics of creativity. Creativity is sown into the fabric of who we are as human beings. We are all born unique and have the capacity for free-thinking, feeling and experiencing the world in our own individual. We can use our imagination and have original thoughts to create something, invent something, make and do something. These are the inherent characteristics of creativity.
Now, if I ask you the question again, “Are you creative”? Would you agree you have these characteristics and would you answer the same way? Maybe you would argue that you are not good at drawing or painting or music or anything artistic. At that point are you confusing artistry with creativity. If we flip the paradigm of what we believe creativity is, we can start to see ourselves as creative and build creative muscle. Creativity is a muscle we can build, shape and create memory with. Being creative is about exercising, flexing and building up these muscles.
Turning your creative muscle from flappy bingo wings into soaring free spirited wings of beauty is thankfully nothing like going to the gym. Unlike the 20 reps 200 times a minute, go hard-or-go-home attitude at the gym, creative muscle is built completely differently. In my experience the minute I try to push, go harder, go stronger and expect results from creativity is the minute it all goes to hell in a hand-bag. Creative muscle is built by paying attention, listening and seeing things through your own unique senses, it’s shaped by energy, spirit, risk, grit and the way we experience the world.
It doesn’t matter if you are an artist, a business person, a stay at home mum, if you drive a bus or if you are a mathematics whiz, creativity does not discriminate. Creativity will show up for each and everyone one of us when we are open, willing and paying attention. Mostly our lives are so busy we have forgotten how to notice when creativity is living on our door step. There are a few ways I help to build my own creative muscle, coax my creative out to play and turn my bingo wings into well-toned and playful spirits.
Here is what I do (strictly no dumbbells or sweating allowed)
- Breathe (OMG, yes seriously, most of us forget that we even are breathing)
- Go outside, into your yard, garden, street, roof of your building, a park, anywhere other than inside and less than 3 minutes away)
- Find a either a leaf, rock, pebble, twig, lost object, something discarded, anything that catches your eye. Find it quickly and don’t think about it.
- Now place it on the palm of your hand and notice it and engage your senses.
SIGHT – Notice now it looks, really notice it, notice it’s shape, colour, tone, size, notice the details, if it changes colour in the light, recognise it’s different parts.
TOUCH – What does it feel like? Smooth, sharp, spiky, hard, soft, is it warm from the sun or cold. Does if have sharp edges or round and pleasant to touch and what it feels like against the palm of your hand.
SMELL – Does is have a scent? Maybe it smells like bitumen from the road or street, fresh scent of the garden, tree or park. Maybe its been raining and you can smell the rain or it smells like garbage( I didn’t promise this would be glamorous) or maybe you can’t smell anything but the scent of your own palm.
TASTE – NO I’M not suggesting you taste something you found on the ground, but if you are game, go for it, I would. Or you could imagine what it would taste like, your sense of smell is a great indicator of taste so it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine it.
HEAR – It may not make a sound as an inanimate object, but what happens when you move or wave it in the air, or throw it, snap it, drop it. Hold it up to your ear, just like a seashell, brush over it and hear the sound it makes.
- AND one last sense, what is the experience of holding this object? (‘I feel like a crazy person’ is not an answer). How does your body hold it? Are you standing up, or sitting down, where are your feet placed? On hard ground or soft grass? How do you hold your hand. Do you feel calm, relaxed, agitated, really check in with how if feels. Does it remind you of another time, a memory or a person or place?
The thing I love about this practise is it’s so easy and promotes mindfulness and calmness while building our creative muscle. The experience of engaging all our senses creates new pathways to every fibre of our being, basically it’s re-training us to BE in creative, so we can THINK creative. The key is practising it daily or as often as we can.
My challenge for you – do this once a day for seven days and play around with it. After seven days I guarantee you will be looking at the world in a completely different way.
See you on the other side.
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