We are entering the age of creativity. And what is that exactly? It is the time when human beings recognize that they each have a creative spark within them which seeks to be expressed to the greatest degree possible. It’s when work ceases to be a means to live and becomes a means to express our creative brilliance. It’s when we begin to engage with our work not solely with our minds but with our hearts as well, imbuing everything we make with meaning.
This article will discuss the age of creativity. What is creativity? (it’s impossible to define), Why is creativity such a big deal? And what can we do about our own creativity?
What Is Creativity?
The answer to this question is in constant flux. Like with every word, every person has their own definition of what creativity means. Some believe creativity is the combination of disparate concepts or ideas in order to create something original and useful. Others believe such a combination need not result in anything useful being created; just the fact that something new emerged is a sign that creativity took place.
These are only two definitions, but there are dozens of others ranging from the poetic, like this one by William Plomer:
“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.”
To the technical, like this definition by Dr. E. Paul Torrance (Creator of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking):
“Creativity is a process of becoming sensitive to problems, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, missing elements, disharmonies, and so on; identifying the difficulty; searching for solutions, making guesses, or formulating hypotheses about the deficiencies: testing and retesting these hypotheses and possibly modifying and retesting them; and finally communicating the results.”
I prefer the defintion by Plomer.
But I Also Have My Own Definition:
When a person creates something new, that person has been creative. It doesn’t matter if whatever was created is “useful” or not. “Usefulness” is subjective, after all. What is useful to some person in some situation can be utterly useless to another person in another situation.
Like money. To a man who is drying of thirst in a desert, a million dollars would be less useful than a canteen full of water. And to a man who is starving in a city, a million dollars would be infinitely more useful than a glass of water.
In The End, Creativity Is Impossible To Define
I’m of the opinion that try as we might, creativity is impossible to define. Like love or fear, we can put a label on something we witness or experience, but ultimately it’s up to each of us to experience it in order to have the experience of it. In other words, we know it when we see (feel) it.
Maybe, the simplest definition is the best one in this case. How about we define creativity as an act of creation? Seems like a circular definition, doesn’t it? But what other option do we have? What is creation, anyways?
Creation is to bring something into existence. But then what is existence?
Just kidding, we’ll stop here.
If creation is bringing something into existence then creativity is being in a state of creation. I believe that is the simplest definition of creativity we can have.
So, if being in a state of creation means being creative that means that we are all creative, all the time.
Because we are creating ourselves, causing ourselves to exist in a certain state with each of our choices! If we don’t choose to eat, drink, breathe we would not be able to exist in this plane of reality.
And that’s just at the biological level.
At a mental level we are also creating ourselves each and every moment. Every thought we have changes the neural arrangement of our brain. Every time we focus our attention on something we rewire our synapses.
The same applies to our emotional life. Every emotion we experience changes who we are and the choices we make. We are energetic fluxes.
Human beings exist in a constant state of creation. We are creative simply by existing (or we exist simply by creating).
It follows from this that everything we do is a creative act! Every breath, every thought, every word we speak and write, every meal we cook, conversation we share and poem we recite. Everything we do is creative, because every moment we are creating our existence.
I’m writing all of this to make something abundantly clear:
If You Are A Human Being, You Are Creative
There is no such thing as an “uncreative human.” It’s an oxymoron, like saying dry water or cold fire. Every human being alive is a creative human being, because in order to live a human being must create. Life and creativity are inextricable from each other.
It’s important to me that you, the reader, get this clear. You are a creative being and nothing and no one can take that status away from you. To be an untethered, courageous creator is our birthright! It is our natural state of being.
I have met many people who say that they “Are not creative.” Hell, I used to believe the same thing! I used to believe I had nothing uniquely valuable to offer the world, so I settled in doing things which I didn’t really want to do because my creative heart wasn’t in them. That all changed, but for a while I did believe that creative success (in the spiritual sense) was something that would always elude me.
It’s a sad state of affairs, because when people believe they aren’t creative they hide what they have to offer from the world. They hide what they are capable of making. This ends up costing all of us; the world is a dimmer place without these people’s creations in them.
The widespread belief that some people hold of themselves as “uncreatives” is a tremendous waste of potential. What solutions are being held back because people lack the self-belief required to bring them into the world?
How Did We Get Here?
How so many of us get to this state of believing we are not creative is a subject in and of itself. But I point the harshest finger at school (surprise). School smashes both our creativity and curiosity out of us. It squeezes us all into equally dry husks.
But don’t take my word for it. Here is an article in the blog “Exquisite Minds” which talks about how standardized testing in the United States forces teachers to emphasize rote learning rather than critical, creative thinking.
Because teachers are pressured into “teaching to the test” by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, they fail at encouraging creative problem solving or critical thinking in their students.
But Wait, There’s More!
Then there’s this peer-reviewed article, published in 2011 by educational psychologist Kyung Hee Kim, titled “The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.” The article makes clear that since from 1990 until 2008 creativity declined among Americans of all ages, especially in kindergarten through third grade. The author states flat out that school is at least partially responsible for the decline in creativity. But she also mentions the decline in free, uninterrupted time for children as well as the decline in playtime and the prevalence of hurried lifestyles are responsible.
Added on to this is the ubiquity of electronic devices which are designed to be addicting, and you have a recipe for the continued creative degradation of the populace. In the book “Born For Love” by Bruce D. Perry, Maia Szalavitz, the authors make clear that too much screen time, of any kind, for children results in the decay of empathy. Empathy is essential to have healthy and meaningful social interactions. And we also know that children who engage in creative, imaginative play with others are more creative in general. So by hurting children’s ability to socialize, excessive use of technology also stunts children’s creativity.
But Why Is Creativity So Important Anyways?
Look around you. Everything we use and consume didn’t exist at some point in the past. It had to be brought into existence by a human creator. From the garden hose to the tax sheets we use, every product or service finds its origin in the mind of a human being.
In the amazing book “A More Beautiful Question” by Warren Berger, the author shows that the value of answers is decreasing. This is because we are now an information civilization; as our ability to produce and store information has exploded, the value of answers has decreased. As long as you ask the right questions you can get to the right answers through using language and search engines. So having the right answers no longer maters as much as asking the right questions, which is the main message of the book.
Since the answers to our questions already exist “out there” it no longer matters if we know the answers or not. What matters is what we can do with them. In other words, what we can create with what already exists.
In a 2010 survey by IBM of more than 1,500 chief executive officers (CEOs) from 60 countries and 33 industries across the planet, the most important skill a leader can have is creativity. According to the CEOs, the ability to manage an increasingly complex world will require creativity. If this was true in 2010 it is even truer today! The world has only gotten more complex since!
Can You See Why We Are Entering The Age Of Creativity?
Yet most schools keep teaching in the same tired, old, obsolete way; teaching children rote learning while solving preapproved problems so they can hand in their preapproved solutions. Is this method of schooling preparing us to thrive in an increasingly complex world where change is happening at a breakneck pace?
Of course not! If we are going to thrive in the age of creativity it’s up to us to take matters into our own hands. We must be the ones who grow our creativity, because the institutions which are responsible for preparing us for the market are terrible at it. And by the time institutions have updated their methods we will all be dead and buried.
We, the individuals, must be the ones who take our creative future into our hands. It’s the only way an individual can guarantee that he or she will be relevant to the creative market of today.
Take This Blog As An Example
I have many interests, as can be appreciated in this blog. I am a trained chemist and I love learning about science. But I also love learning about nature, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, spirituality, neuroscience and economics. I’m not an expert in any of the things I write about; I don’t have all the answers!
But I know how to find them, because I ask the right questions. This way, when I write I base myself on the findings and opinions of experts, while weaving it all together with my own voice and opinions. This is how I take information which already exists and synthesize it in a new and helpful way. This is how I am creative.
Can Anyone Do This?
Yes, anyone can do this, you just need to ask the right questions. And in order to ask the right questions we need to know what we’re interested in! And to learn what you’re interested in you can do a few things:
- Meditate – this allows you to connect with your deeper self.
- Be alone – allow your mind to wander and it will naturally head towards the things you’re interested in. Walking is great for this. It’s crucial to take notes while you allow your mind to wander.
- Create! – take what you learn from your time alone and create something! By doing this you refine your interests, pinpoint what you’re good at and what you can improve on. This is progress!
Naturally, if you’re like me and you spent your childhood, adolescence and young adulthood in school being told what to do, you might not know what your interests are. And that’s alright. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what your interests are now, because you can always find them!
It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you start now with a small step I can guarantee that in the future you will look back and be profoundly grateful that you made the choice to discover your interests.
We Live In An Amazing Time
We really are entering the age of creativity. Today, if you have a vision and the initiative to act on it, you can create value from anywhere in the world. While the internet has many problems (censoring, digital manipulation, maddening advertisements everywhere, Big Tech monopolies), I believe it’s still the best way for us to share our creative gifts with the world at large.
Are you skilled at making beautiful instruments out of wood? There are people who would love to see your work. Are you capable of reciting the alphabet backwards while drinking a glass of water and balancing on a medicine ball? People would love to learn how you learned to do that. Do you enjoy learning about primitive technology and applying it to surviving in the outdoors? There’s an audience out there for you (bear in mind, this guy is already pretty established in that field, so you’ll have to put your own spin on the concept).
The Opportunities Are Endless, If You Know What Your Interests Are!
I hope this article has inspired you to reevaluate your creative ability. Believe me when I say that it is the birthright of every human being to express their creative talents to their fullest. This includes you! If you have an unresolved longing, a feeling of dissatisfaction with the way your life is going, it might just be your creative energy seeking to be expressed.
Human beings are goal-strivers, unless we are actively working towards a goal we feel lost, frustrated and useless. Like a bicycle, we have to be moving in order to stay upright. The goal can be anything (positive, please?), it’s only requirement is that it holds meaning for us.
So I invite you to fire up your creativity and make something! In the coming articles I will discuss how we can empower our creative ability; what choices we can make and what methods we can employ to unlock our creativity. Empowering our creative ability is rewarding like nothing else in life. This is truly the way to explode your wealth 😉
To our wealth and success