When I think of creativity, I usually think of crafts highly talented people have perfected. My mental Pinterest board fills with products made by talented artisans, but definitely not myself. People tend to view themselves as creatives and others as non-creatives.
In both camps, creative work can seem like an extra — a luxury or self-indulgence. Especially if it does not generate income. But I am convinced that we all need the time and space to cultivate our creative interests and there are lessons to be learned through the process that change how we view ourselves.
Some of us see the word “creative” and think this only applies to painters, musicians, photographers, dancers and writers, and if we do not fall into one of those categories, we don’t feel like we can relate.
But these and other artists are not the only creatives. We are all creative in various ways. Some of us are creative organizers, professionally or at home. (Talking to those people who get a thrill out of sorting the junk drawer.) Some enjoy finding ways to serve others and fill needs. Some are conversationally creative, effortlessly building bridges and making connections through words or just a well-trained listening ear. Others are builders, thinkers, explorers, collectors. It’s not a matter of “if” you’re creative. It’s a matter of taking the time to practice your creativity.
I recently listened to an interview with Brene Brown, a researcher, author and incredible story teller who gave a TED talk that went viral. (If you have not seen it, please take the time to do so. You’ll be so glad you did.) Brene points out that the major inhibitor of creativity is fear. Fear of vulnerability or failure or rejection or feeling shamed. Often those fears are irrational, we fear things that have already happened or that probably will never happen — and even when they are not irrational, we grow when we experience overcoming those fears.
Brene explained that in her research on shame and belonging, the deepest forms of connection come from vulnerability. And creativity tends to involve vulnerability because it involves taking risks, even in the slightest degree. When we share our creativity, we open ourselves up to commentary and criticism on the things we’ve committed time and effort to. We either find common ground or division over the things we that give us pride and joy. Even knowing this, the process it worth the risk of criticism and division to make those connections. Plus, just working through our ideas has value.
Cultivating creativity teaches patience.
Most paintings are painted in layers, music is compiled, books are edited and rewritten, successful companies are built over years of hard work and sound strategy. We can appreciate that sometimes the big payoff takes time.
It also stretches what we believe ourselves to be capable of accomplishing. It can be an outlet for stress and frustration, or even just a way to get the wrong ideas out of the way before we find the right one. If we never explore our ideas, we may buy into the facade that we have none.
So let’s not view our creative time as wasted or unproductive. Play classical music and write a story to go along with it. Pull out ingredients that you know go well together and let your kids come up with a new recipe. Make shapes or scenes out of your spaghetti noodles.
When you can see your husband is enjoying paying attention to minute details of a project, resist the urge to rush him. We all need time to unhurriedly stretch our creative muscles. As they grow, allow children the opportunity to problem solve. Ask for their input on how to serve others. Invite them into adult conversations to glean wisdom and offer ideas.
Mostly, let them see you take time to explore your creative interests so they see it as a common practice.
To paraphrase Brene’s strong point: We all have something unique to share with the world. As much as we need to share it, the world needs to have it. Let’s all spend some time making our contribution.
photo courtesy of Unsplash