There was an interesting article in ‘The Age’ on Saturday 11 January by Jane Sullivan. It was about creativity and the fears expressed by author Sam McNerny that the gung-ho unlock your creativity type of pop culture we are lambasted with almost daily [or maybe that is just me noticing that as my radar is keenly tuned] – is killing true creativity.
Classical creativity glorifies the tortured soul labouring long and hard over bringing a new piece of genius into the world. Suffering for art, facing ridicule for new, criticism for championing change and upsetting the status quo.
But what about the every day creativity. What about the new solutions to workplace problems, the new spice added to a meal with unexpected results, the creativity of decorating a room or landscaping your garden. The serendipity of searching for just the right shade of blue for the new curtains, and finding it in a pair of shoes in a fashion magazine. The student who writes a new story, ‘discovers’ [their] scientific breakthrough in prac class.
Those times when your mind is working on creative solutions to your daily dilemmas that result in aha moments, that is what some classify as ‘small c’ creativity.
Regularly practicing ‘small c’ creativity is what leads to ‘big C’ creativity – the struggles, the breakthroughs, the monumental somehow life changing status quo shaking. Without pop-culture’s insistence that ‘creativity is the currency of the future’ we just might find ourselves living in a society dominated by the crazy few, those brave enough to endure the punishingly hard work – and so be deprived of the small gains, the little inspiration and the tantalising glimpses into what could be a bigger picture.
I say Hurrah to pop culture, I say Hurrah to the confidence gained from awareness and for small acts of creativity, and Hurrah to opportunities to challenge our thinking….who knows where that can take us.
Do you have habits that keep you on the same track all….the….time…?
I do. Now there is a fab book called The Power of Habit (which I will talk about another time) by Charles Duhigg. In this instance though, I am talking about small habits that keep us from good change, the ones that mean we always pick the same food at the supermarket, the same dinner routine, the same seats around the table, the same colour of lipstick…
I always used the same eyeliner. For years. My eyes have a slight allergy to whatever active ingredients are in them…even those touted as being good for sensitive people and all natural. It’s just a bit of trial and error involved….anyway….as the story goes, this one particular day I couldn’t find my regular eyeliner and I had a need for some. Dilemma right?
I had been seeing this new fangled liquid eyeliner being used all over the place – had tried it once…oh about 10 years ago, no luck so that was out. So I opted for a brand I have used before and off I went. Until I opened the packaging and tried to apply said eyeliner (stay with me here, this is not a makeup lesson) did I discover it was a …dum dum duuuummmmm….liquid eyeliner!
I had no choice but to stumble through, using the car mirror and a wad of tissues (just in case) and you will never guess what (or maybe you will if you are catching the vibe…or looked ahead…I’ll forgive you this is a long winded post…)
I LOVED IT!
Now that’s a habit of a makeup wearing girl’s lifetime changed…right there…nice fine line, great colour options, stayability…oh the joy!
What is my point…oh yes…the serendipity of new. Our brains love the challenge of new, deep down inside, in the parts that crave new neural connections. But we, our rational, thinking, acting selves prefer the known. Oh what is a fully evolved human to do?
It’s about balance. New when there is no stress, new when there is time for play, new when there is nothing at stake (OK so in my case, the new was kinda a mistake, and there was lots at stake because I could have turned up at that meeting looking like a panda bear…but luckily I didn’t!). Keep your habits, and we will talk about them another time. Habits are a great way of saving brain energy for the more important things in life like creating and playing and inventing new stuff…
But remember to inject some new, shake things up when the stakes are low, break a tired old routine and give your brain a zing.
Curiosity, in not just my humble opinion, is the cornerstone of all development. Development of the spirit, of the body, of the mind, of our world. It is curiosity that has lead humanity to every new frontier, it is curiosity that leads us to new adventures – small and large – it is curiosity that drives our growth. Your brain thrives on new. Without new, neurons die, neural pathways whither, and your brain loses efficiency.
This is what happens when curiosity dries up. When we hit the dreaded ‘mid-life-crisis’. When we look back over a year to find that we spent our nights doing essentially the same things, visiting the same places, eating the same food, hanging out with the same crowd.
Remember when you were a child? When everything was new, exciting, challenging, an opportunity to learn? When your curiosity over even the simplest of things was innate? Even school, with it’s antiquated knowledge delivery systems and rote learning rewards – even that held challenge and excitement at times (surely not just me in that boat?). Then you maybe went to college or uni, then got a job. Again with the new…new people, new processes, new life skills, new challenges.
Maybe moved out of home, found a partner, maybe got married, maybe had a couple of kids….new, new, new, new…then….
Life settled down. Became about food on the table, career climbing – or even career clinging in a changing world, kids demands, mortgage payments. Where did the new go? What happened to your curiosity for new discoveries and experiences? Where did the brain zinging stimulating growth disappear to? It disappeared along with those struggling neurons. The ones screaming out to be fed and reinforced and challenged.
No more! I say poo to that!
We live in a truly amazing time. A time when the internet can serve us challenges, and excitement and a life of growth and opportunity.
Boo to stagnation ~Hooray to sprouting!
But it is how you handle the ‘failure’ that dictates your future. Will you wallow, will you learn, will you regroup, will you surrender to new, or will you crawl into a corner and lick your wounds.
At Least I Tried….next!