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The Inner Dragon: Magic

For our Unleash Your Inner Dragon series, we’ve been discussing the beliefs we have here at Design.org that can help creatives and aspiring creatives to discover the fierce creativity inside of them. With this creativity unleashed, they can then go on to do meaningful, fulfilling work, and to “create happy” in their lives.

At Design.org, we talk a lot about the science behind creativity and happiness. In this post, though, I’ll cover a belief we have that is a little more mystic than scientific. Because here, we believe in magic.

We believe in magic.

Creativity is magic. When you create, you take one thing (sometimes just an idea) and turn it into something else. When your inner dragon is unleashed, it sparks the magic within you. It casts a spell on you. Suddenly, creative energy flows through you, itching to get out. That energy won’t leave you alone, won’t let you rest, until you channel it into creating. It gives us the power to create something better than our current state.

Magic isn’t just the stuff of fantasy movies and fairy tales. In fact, we’d argue that the magic we’re talking about is more powerful than tricks and spells. This magic isn’t an illusion—it’s real. And it can have a real impact on your creativity and happiness. 

Let’s take a closer look at our beliefs about magic. 

“Creativity is magic.”

There is science behind creativity; there’s no doubt about that. Things like sleep, collaboration, sunshine, research, methods for capturing ideas, and more have all been studied for the measurable impact they have on innovative or creative thinking.

But while the scientific element of creating can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored, we also can’t ignore that other, inexplicable “something” that spurs on fierce creativity. 

Think of the concept of “flow.” Flow is an enjoyable, hyper-focused, highly-productive state in which high-caliber creative work is often accomplished. There’s a lot of science behind flow, including on how to get in a flow state. But there’s something magical about flow as well. In fact, the American Psychological Association says that during flow, “one loses self-consciousness and temporal awareness, and one has a sense of total control, effortlessness, and complete concentration on the immediate situation.”

So, to be clear: you lose self-consciousness, but you gain control? You lose temporal awareness, but you’re in a state of complete concentration? From this perspective, flow doesn’t make any logical sense. Rather, flow brings you to a state that’s beyond logic. It’s magic. 

Creativity is similar. While logic helps, there’s a point where magic takes over, and it’s almost impossible to explain.

“When you create, you take one thing (sometimes just an idea) and turn it into something else.”

Creating involves transformation. Letters become words, which become a story. Different colored paints combine to become paintings. Fabric becomes clothing. Ingredients become meals. 

“Creativity is really the structuring of magic.” 

Anne Rush

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, creatives can make something that wasn’t there before.

Of course, sometimes a creative’s materials aren’t as tangible as paint or vegetables. Sometimes, all they have to work with is an idea, a mere possibility that something could be different. They work to make that idea a reality—to bring an invisible, abstract concept into the physical world. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. 

“When your inner dragon is unleashed, it sparks the magic within you. It casts a spell on you.”

This is the kind of feeling that creatives dream of. It’s the idea that won’t let you go, the dream you remember vividly when you wake up, the story that feels so real it almost seems more like a memory. That is the kind of magic that fierce creativity can spark. That is the kind of magic that can turn dreams and ideas into reality.

That idea you have, that cause that you’re passionate about, that goal you’re working toward—those flames can all be fanned by this magic. 

“Suddenly, creative energy flows through you, itching to get out. That energy won’t leave you alone, won’t let you rest, until you channel it into creating.”

With the passion and magic of your inner dragon driving you, you can do meaningful work in meaningful ways. In fact, sometimes, you won’t even have a choice. You’ll feel compelled to create. The idea is demanding to be released into the world. Dragons, after all, don’t like to be kept silent.

“The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

When you encounter this energy, it’s important to recognize it and to do something with it. This isn’t just how you practice creative thinking and living, it’s how you practice seeing magic happen in your life. 

“It gives us the power to create something better than our current state.”

There are lots of things in this world that we can’t change. That can be frustrating, discouraging, or even downright depressing. But creating gives us the power to make change happen—especially if it’s driven by the magic and passion of fierce creativity.

Let yourself believe in the magic of creating. Use that magic to better your life and to better the world. If you want to “create happy” in your life, embrace the magic inside of you. Invite it in, and welcome it when you encounter it. Let your inner dragon fuel it. Stop doubting, and start believing. 

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How to embrace magic

“Magic” can be a tough pill to swallow. You might not believe in it, in the role it plays in creativity, or in your ability to harness it. But no matter how you currently feel about magic, I’d encourage you to just try embracing the concept a little more. Be open to the idea that there could be magic inside you, waiting to get out. Try to remember a time when an idea grabbed hold of you and propelled you forward, beyond all logic or reason. Start to recognize the little magical moments that spark your creativity. 

If you’re unsure how to start, here are some ideas:

  • Recognize where logic ends. Logic can invite magic, but there comes a point when magic takes over. The next time you’re working creatively, try to be aware of that point. How does it feel when magic takes over? How is it different from working logically?
  • Have a way to capture any thoughts that might come to you throughout the day. Whether it’s a notebook you keep in your bag, a special note on your phone, or a running document on your computer, being ready to capture inspiration can help you see that magic happens more often than you think.
  • Challenge yourself. When you push yourself to the limit, more often than not, you’ll figure out a way to work through that limit. And you have magic to thank for that. After all, you’re doing something you’ve never done before. You’re creating a new solution. You’re turning a dead end into a way forward. Challenge yourself, and then allow magic to help.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

W.B.Yeats

Living a life that embraces magic might feel a little odd, or even a little uncomfortable, especially at first. But believing in magic and letting that magic guide you can take you further in your creative efforts than you ever thought possible. 

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