I ask every person that I do a Q&A Session with this question. Why? First because I’m genuinely interested to hear all of the different definitions that I get. Second, I want to show that everyone’s definition of creativity is different, just like everyone’s way of being creative is different. Everyone’s way of being creative is different, but everyone IS creative in some way. Every. Single. Person. People just don’t think that they are creative because of how they define the word “creativity”.
If I asked you if you think you are creative, what would your answer be?
I’ve heard so many people say no to this question. Many say, “No. I’m not really creative. I can’t paint or draw”. Or, “I’m not creative at all. I can’t do all of this crafty stuff that people do”.
I’ve talked to a lot of people who think they aren’t creative, who come up with very creative ideas to solve a problem. When I stand back, and watch what they are doing, I just shake my head and smile because, most people don’t realize just how creative they really are. They can’t draw a picture of a dog, make an origami swan, or make a wreath out of twigs, so they think they aren’t creative at all. But creativity comes in so many different forms.
The word creativity doesn’t just mean painting, drawing, or doing arts and crafts. I have nothing against doing any of these things. In fact, I enjoy doing all of them (or at least attempting to). But really, there is so much more to the word creativity.
People who enjoy cooking are creative in the kitchen. They try new recipes and tweak the old ones. They mix and match ingredients to see which are better together.
Those who build furniture, or houses, are very creative in how they put things together, what angles they use, and what colors they use. The people who paint, upholster, wallpaper, and otherwise embellish the furniture and houses are creative with colors and textures.
Mechanics often have to be creative about how they find and fix an issue with our cars.
Business owners consistently have to be creative to keep their businesses running and profitable.
Parents are creative about how they teach, raise, and discipline their children.
This list could go on and on.
So, I challenge you this week, today even, to find 5 ways in your life that you are creative.
I call it a challenge because, for some people, this will be a challenging task. Opening their mind to a new definition of creativity, and finding something that they consider creative about themselves, may not be easy. Even those who draw all the time, or write, or paint – commonly all thought of as creative things – don’t consider themselves creative because they don’t think they are “good” at it; or they aren’t “professionals”. (I’ve even said this myself a few times.)
Part of the beauty of creativity is that it’s different for everyone, so it doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not.
In an article on CSUN.edu (originally from the Human Motivation textbook, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken, page 396), “Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.”
Just the ability to recognize a possible alternative solution is enough. It doesn’t have to be a solution that is used. You don’t have to have solid gold ideas every single time, or you’re not creative. Being able to see other ways of doing things, being open to new ideas, is creativity in action.
In the dictionary, the definition of creativity is this:
1. The use of the imagination or original ideas. (The Oxford Dictionary), 2. The ability to create. (Merriam-Webster).
Nowhere in either of those definitions does it say that you have to create the most beautiful things that anyone has ever seen. It doesn’t say that you have to be world famous to be considered creative. You just have to have the ability to create, to use your imagination, and to use original ideas.
Every person that I’ve ever had the chance to know, fits some form of at least one of these definitions.
We also need to remember that what we are “creating” isn’t always a tangible thing. Sometimes it’s a feeling, an atmosphere, a way of communicating or problem solving, or a way of life.
When someone decorates their house, often they do so with the intention of making people feel welcome. They are creating an atmosphere of comfort and caring.
We give people gifts, or do random acts of kindness for people, to create feelings of love, appreciation, and friendship.
People who aren’t happy where they currently are, doing the job they are currently doing, can create a new life for themselves by moving, getting a new job, and/or changing how they do things.
I know many times I’ve had to find creative ways to communicate with people, because they weren’t understanding what I was saying.
Have you ever gone on a vacation where things didn’t go at all as planned? You had to figure out an alternative way to make your time fun and memorable. That’s your creativity talking. =)
So often, we use our creative side, without realizing it. We don’t call it creativity, we call it problem solving, adapting, mixing things up, adjusting our sails, etc.
One of the big goals with The Novel Turtle, is to help change this definition that a lot of people have of the word creativity.
I want to show that everyone is creative in their own way. Your creativity may not lie in the box of traditional arts and crafts, but you are somehow creative nonetheless.
In opening up these creative channels, that we all have, we begin to see ourselves and the world around us in a different light. This happens in several ways:
1) Our confidence in ourselves and our ability to handle whatever life throws at us grows exponentially. We know that even if something doesn’t work out quite right, we have the ability to adapt, change the plan, get creative, and make it work.
2) The communication that we have with others changes for the better because we can begin to see those conversations from other perspectives.
3) The way that we live our lives, the spaces that we inhabit, and the energy that we put out into the world becomes more positive because we open up to seeing the true potential that we have in life. We see that if there isn’t a way for us to do what we want to do, we can create a way.
4) We become more aware of our surroundings because we start to look for creativity in other things: the way that people dress, their hair, the way a building is built or decorated, the colors of the flowers and trees, the way the light reflects off of things, and so on. We’re not looking to judge these things, but rather to see the differences in people and places, and to be inspired by them.
Once you open your mind to the fact that you are a creative person, you begin to see creativity all around you.
5) You can find creative ways to relax or to calm yourself in stressful situations. Listen to the way the wind is blowing through the trees. Tap your fingers as if your playing a song. Look at the pictures around you and imagine what it would be like to be in that place. (Like Mary Poppins jumping into Bert’s chalk drawings)
If you are having blood drawn, or a test done at a doctor’s office, count the number of electrical outlets or ceiling tiles. Read the posters or notes that are posted around the room. My Grandmother used to tell me when I was little to imagine the electrical outlets were little owls. This would help to take my mind off of the situation at least a little.
6) When you are bored, or having to wait somewhere, find creative ways to pass the time. Count how many people walk by you with the color red on. Watch birds playing in a puddle.
One of my favorite things to do when we have to wait in line at Lowe’s or Home Depot is to try to figure out what people are doing, fixing, or building with what they are buying. I’ve come up with some pretty interesting projects.
It’s also really fun to see the creativity that people use to fit long pieces of lumber into their cars and trucks. Sometimes it reminds me of an insurance commercial waiting to happen. Haha!
Spend some time finding those ways that you are creative, and finding your own definition of the word creativity.
If you need help getting started, ask someone who is close to you how they think you are creative. You could also use the examples that I’ve given above and see if any of those apply to you.
These are the five ways that I have been most creative lately: 1) writing – in many different forms, 2) drawing cards and pictures to make people smile, 3) finding a way to prop my phone up so that I could take a Zoom class (I used a blanket and a roll of painters tape…haha), 4) figuring out a way to make everything that I wanted in one of our cabinets, actually fit without falling out on our heads when we open the door, 5) cleaning our house and doing laundry – to create a feeling of comfort and calm for the weekend to come. (cleaning and doing laundry so that things aren’t piled up and causing us stress, and so we can spend our weekend doing more fun things)
The really fun part of finding your creativity is that, once you find your creative style, you can learn to use it to benefit those around you.
Use your building, plumbing, electrical or painting skills to help someone who can’t afford to have something in their house fixed. Use your cooking skills to take food to someone who needs a little cheering up, or who has been super busy and could use some help. Offer to help organize someone’s house (only if they ask you to, or you know they want to, not just because you think they should) and use those creative organizational skills. Plant flowers for someone.
Again, the list could go on and on. The point is, knowing and acknowledging your unique creative skills gives you the opportunity to help others in a unique way.
To give you a little more inspiration, here are the answers I’ve gotten so far in my Q&A Sessions, when I ask “what is your definition of creativity”:
“Expressing the ideas that are in your mind or how you’re feeling through activities that you love to do and that make you happy.” – Haley Hensley, Photographer
“Creativity is the act of creating something from nothing. It is letting God/Source flow through you and manifest things that stimulate, develop and enhance the world around us. It allows people to be present and goes deeper into self-awareness.” – Chris Shelton, Shelton Qigong
“Having your eyes open to other things, other than what is mainstream or normal, in every situation. Even seeing things like rivers: the way they flow, the color.” – Mark Borella, a.k.a. The Seeds of Happiness Guy
“Self-expression is my definition of creativity- existing in this beautiful world as you truly are. Creativity is a picture of your uniqueness and individuality. This can be expressed or un-expressed in any way that’s right for you. God and the universe love variety. I think it’s our weirdness that makes us special!” – Kristi Slaughter, Radio Talk Show Host
“Thinking differently – that being completely new thoughts or being able to combine things in a way that hasn’t been done before, like to be able to see things in a new light. When I think creative, I think of a unique way to express an idea or complete a task that has never been done before.” – Kevin J. DeBruin, Space Educator and Former NASA Rocket Scientist
“I see creativity in everything. From the way we walk, or jump the curb, to the stack of books we arrange. Creativity can be simple or it can be deep and from your soul. I celebrate all creativity and I am always looking to learn something new.” – Jennifer from Thoughtful Gifting
The reason that I chose a picture of a lighthouse is because I think they represent creativity in so many ways. The very concept of a lighthouse was a creative solution to the problem of guiding ships. Each lighthouse that you see is different in some way – a different color, size, etc. This particular lighthouse, Cape Henry, has the distinct honor of being the first in the United States. They were also running a very creative fund raising program while we were there. For a donation, you got a bucket that you filled with sand, carried to the top, and poured out next to the lighthouse. They were raising money to rebuild the surrounding grounds. Yes, I know, I paid to do someone else’s work, but it was clever and fun!! Plus I got a free bucket! Haha!