If you’re a fine artist, writer, musician, photographer, or designer, you’ve likely been called a ‘creative person’ at some point in your life. Perhaps you’ve figured out a new idea to a problem at your small business that you thought was creative. Maybe you’ve been in a class, interpreted a piece of work in a valuable way, and the professor lauded you for contributing a different perspective or different idea.
Creative ideas emerge in many situations, careers, hobbies, and works. But what exactly is creativity?
Defining What Creativity and Innovation Is
Simply put, creativity involves transforming your ideas, imagination, and dreams into reality. When you’re being creative, you can see the hidden patterns, make connections between things that aren’t normally related, and come up with new ideas. Creative ability depends on creative thinking which is part hard work but largely creative problem-solving.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of the book “Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” gives a pretty hefty definition of the word. He said, “Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives … most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity… [and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”
Aside from his book, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is known for his TED Talk about the creative process and flow, also known as the secret to happiness. In his TED Talk, he says that when you are completely engaged with creating something new, such as writing music, you don’t even pay attention to how your body feels or any problems you may be having at home.
Referring to a person in the middle of the creative process Csikszentmihaly said, “He can’t feel even that he’s hungry or tired, his body disappears, his identity disappears from his consciousness because he doesn’t have enough attention, like none of us do, to really do well something that requires a lot of concentration and at the same time to feel that he exists.”
Is Creative Thinking Learned or Natural?
Human beings are born creative and then taught to be uncreative as they grow older. Just think about it: When you are a kid, there is an emphasis on art classes and “reaching for the stars,” and when you get older, you’re told to get real, take the straight and narrow path, and pay your taxes. Pursuing our creative potential tends to come to a hault when we grow up. Creative individuals don’t always have the most supportive environment in the workplace because they might be said to have unusual thoughts and lack the know-how for real business innovation.
Research proves that non-creative behavior is learned overtime. According to George Land’s Creativity Test, young children are creative geniuses, and become less creative as they age. His study took a group of 1,600 five-year-olds and tested to see how creative they were. Ninety-eight percent were deemed creative geniuses, thinking in novel ways similar to the likes of Picasso, Mozart, Einstein and other creative personalities. He tested them again at 10 years old. That number dropped to 30 percent. By 15 years of age, it had declined to 12 percent. He gave the same test to 280,000 adults and found that only 2 percent were creative geniuses.
The good news is: If you consider yourself uncreative as an adult, you can reteach yourself to have a whole new mind (creatively speaking) and get into the habit of practicing creativity and innovation once again.
Aside from doing simple things like traveling to a new place, taking a walk, and engaging in a new hobby, you can also train yourself to do something new and become an expert in it. It’s been shown that creativity in a certain area emerges after much practice. You also need to be open to new possibilities, remain curious about the world, and easily shake off mistakes. Employ these creativity measures and you’ll possess a great deal more of creative thinking soon enough.
You can also accidentally stumble upon creativity. According to one study, 72 percent of people have creative insights in the shower. Why? Solitary activities like showering, walking alone, and daydreaming get the brain moving towards a more creative place.
Creativity is like the force: It may have been in you all along. You just have to uncover it.
Who Is Creative?
Anyone can be creative. If you just dabble in painting, you’re no less creative than the person who makes it her entire career. While creativity was pushed aside because of the Industrial Revolution, it’s making a comeback amongst millenials in the information age, according to Hillary Grigonis. In one study of people ages 18 to 35, it was found that millennials are more likely to try a wider range of creative tasks like building a mobile app or learning how to knit than their older counterpart.
Creative people possess certain traits or skills. They are always asking questions, coming up with creative solutions to one problem, and exhibiting playfulness. They have heightened emotional sensitivity, are usually seen as nonconforming and are not afraid to be seen as different or exhibiting unusual thoughts.
As playwright George Bernard Shaw sums it up, “Some men see things as they are and say ‘why?’ I dream of things that never were and say ‘why not.’