Creativity rules!!!

As we move into a new age, a new way if thinking, creativity and innovation have become the ‘buzz’ words of the decade.  We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.1

Creativity means many things to different people and in different contexts.  It involves bringing ideas to life, making the imaginative real.  It permeates our lives and affects how we live them.  Definitions of creativity and creators vary.   Creativity is not just for artist. It is for business people looking for a new way to close a sale; it is for engineers trying to solve a problem; it is for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.2 Creativity is an essential part of being human and something that we all have the capacity to learn, or re-learn.  As children creativity is something that comes naturally – just watch any child at play and observe how they engage their imagination. Often  we have this creativity “knocked out” of us as we move through life’s aging stages where greater emphasis is placed upon logic and reason.

In his research during the 1950 and 60s Professor Roger W. Sperry discovered that the brain divides tasks into two main categories within the hemispheres of the cerebral cortex.  The left hemispheres deals with tasks logically and analytically, with language and numbers, reasons sequentially.  The right hemispheres reasons holistically, interprets nonverbal expression and emotions, deals with spatial awareness, recognises pattern or whole picture awareness, and imagines and daydreams.3 Creativity stems from the right cerebral cortex, the “right brain” activity and in the Conceptual Age the tasks handled by this area of the brain will be valued as never before.

During his research Sperry observed that people trained in skills relying on one side of the brain as opposed to the other, formed dominant habits that favoured activities controlled by the favoured brain side, strengthening these activities and habits over time.  However, “When people who are weak in one area were trained in that area by experts, they invariably increased their skills and strength in that given area, and, what’s more, simultaneously strengthened their performance in other areas.”4 In short, thinking from one part of your brain or another is really a function of habit.  Like all habits thinking can be expanded to incorporate new experiences and elements, and to increase access to and use of the “other” non-dominant side of your brain.

Try the following activities to stimulate your right brain thinking, break some habits and expand your creativity:

Give yourself permission – first off give yourself permission to “play”, to create, to tap into avenues for self-expression different from what you usually do; and permission to enjoy whatever happens as a result of this “play” time.  Not everything has to be about an outcome.

Sharpen your curiosity – take yourself on what Julia Cameron calls The Artist Date,  “a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.”5 Go off and do what brings you fun, joy and stimulates your curiosity. Take a notebook and pen to record your imaginative thoughts along the way.

Take a week off – from distractions that stop you from being creative.  Turn off the television, stop reading the newspaper, leave the computer or phone off when you are at home and see what happens as your imagination flourishes.

Create a Mind map rather than a list – when faced with tasks/challenges/finding solutions consider doing a mind-map rather than a written list.  Draw up a map of all the ingredients and have fun accessing your right brain for ideas.

Daydream or do nothing – both of these activities allow the unconscious to become conscious and the imagination to surface and flourish.  To get you started sit back and think about the first time you created something and what that felt like.  Let your mind drift from there.  If asked to explain what you are up to just quote Steven Spielberg and say ”I dream for a living”.

Visualise – a very powerful tool to enable you to open up your thinking. “In creative visualisation you use your imagination to create a clear image, idea, or feeling of something you wish to manifest.”   So take a stack of magazines, choose a central image to represent your goal or theme and then cut out and paste images to support that image onto card.  It is fun to do, very relaxing and can yield surprising results.

Whatever you choose to do – enjoy.

[1] Pink, Daniel H., 2006, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainer Will Rule the Future, Riverhead Books, New York, p. 2
[2] Tharp, Twyla, 2006, The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, Simon & Schuster Paperback, New York, p.7
[3] For an amazing story about on the difference between right and left brained thinking check out the following site: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html
[4] Buzan, Tony, 2005, The Ultimate Book of Mind Maps, Thorsons, London, p. 53
[5] Cameron, Julia, 1994, The Artist’s Way, Pan Books, London, p.19