When you want to make a change in your life—really make a change—where do you start? Do you listen to a podcast? Read a self help book? Talk to a trusted friend? Are you a ponder, figure-it-out-yourself type? Or a leave-no-stone-unturned, talk-to-everyone type? No matter how you go about it, this post is for you. Because however you approach personal change, there is one thing you’re always, always going to need: creativity. And that, more than anything else, is why creativity matters.
What creativity is (and what it isn’t)
The Cambridge Dictionary defines creativity as “the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas.”
That is quite a broad definition. When I explore the idea of creativity a little deeper, I come up with some more specifics about what creativity is and what it isn’t.
- Universal. Everyone has creativity inside of them. As author Julia Cameron said, “Just as blood is a fact of your physical body and nothing you invented, creativity is a fact of your spiritual body and nothing you must invent.” It’s in you. Somewhere.
- Learnable. Creativity exists in everyone, but the ability to use that creativity comes more naturally to some than to others. Fortunately, creativity can be learned and strengthened. Think of it more like a muscle than a fixed attribute.
- Essential. This may sound dramatic, but I have come to learn that creativity is essential to living a full life. I have learned the hard way (and seen others learn the hard way) that life without creativity is dull and even meaningless.
Creativity is not:
- Only for “artists.” Everyone needs creativity. Every profession, every hobby, every good habit, every positive change benefits from creative thinking.
- Something to ignore. Creativity needs to be fostered and nurtured. You have to practice creativity to get good at it. You can’t just wait for it to wake up, and you can’t expect it to get stronger on its own. It requires thought and effort.
- Purposeless. Every solution to every problem has required (and will always require) creativity. Creativity needs to be applied to a cause in order to do its best work. And it doesn’t always have to be about solving world hunger or some other grand idea. The purpose of creativity can be self-expression, personal growth, relationship development, etc.
Why creativity matters
With those ideas in mind, it’s a little easier for us to start to understand why creativity really matters. The way I see it, creativity matters for three big reasons: it helps you see things differently; it allows you to find wonder in the world; and it helps you express yourself in unique and powerful ways.
See things differently
At its heart, creativity is all about finding new and different ways to think. Creative thinking encourages:
- Curiosity. Creative people are curious people. Instead of making judgements or complaining about the world, they ask why things are done the way that they are, and wonder if they could make them better.
- Open-mindedness and acceptance. When you allow yourself to be curious about other people’s thoughts and beliefs, you are more likely to be open to those thoughts and beliefs, and more likely to accept other people as they are.
- Problem solving. Creative thinking leads to solutions. The interesting thing about this is that the solutions often come about in unique ways. Creative thinking allows you to approach a problem from a different angle, or think about a possibility you never thought about before. In this way, it opens the door to options you didn’t think you had.
The idea of “seeing things differently” can be applied everywhere. You can change the way you see your family, your job, your home, or yourself. It might lead you down paths you never thought you’d take. But no matter where it takes you, being able to see things differently is always going to benefit you.
Find wonder in the world
Another reason why creativity matters is that it helps you find wonder in the world.
I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty easy to be cynical these days.
All you have to do is open your news feed to see natural disasters, political battles, people treating each other poorly, economic strife, or someone’s personal tragedy. Not to mention all the stressors you have in your everyday life—financial, emotional, mental, and so on.
I don’t want to be a cynical person, but like I said, it’s way too easy.
But when I let myself be creative, the cynicism melts away and I see wonder in the world. I see the people who are working to further their causes just like I’m trying to further mine. I see people who love their families and do their jobs well and just want to make positive change in the world. And I see beauty all around me—in nature, in art, in my home.
Basically, creativity allows you to look past what is and think about what could be. It doesn’t mean that the problems of the world disappear; it just means that you’re able to mitigate worry with hope.
Express yourself in unique and powerful ways
The final big reason why creativity matters is because it allows you to express yourself in unique and powerful ways.
This is just a different way of saying that creativity allows you to do creative work that means something to you. Whether you are doing it just for yourself or sharing it with someone else, it is creativity that helps you bring your ideas to life.
Your creativity can help you come up with creative processes that work for you or encourage you to try new mediums to express yourself. It can help you refine your schedule, hone your talent, find a mentor, learn a new skill, strengthen your work ethic, and so much more. Basically, creativity applies to the work you do, but it can also apply to how you get the work done, no matter what that work is.
Applications for creativity
The reasons why creativity matters are as broad as they are powerful. Creativity can:
- Help an entrepreneur refine their business plan
- Help parents understand their kids better
- Encourage professional advancement
- Inspire someone who is struggling with mental health
- Help you set and achieve goals
- Improve physical wellness
- Strengthen relationships
- Reignite hope and positivity
- Mend broken bonds and create new ones
And yes, creativity can even be applied to art, music, writing, design, and so on (wink wink).
The point is—creativity is needed. Everywhere. And it can be applied everywhere. All you have to do is learn to unlock the creativity that is inside of you and put it to good use, wherever you need it most.
Why does creativity matter? Because it can and will change you. And that changes everything.
Find your creativity. Design.org can help.
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