Ditching the blinkers

Creativity is not exclusive; it’s not something that belongs to others, to those with special talent or skills. On the contrary, a creative life is an option for every single one of us. The sense of well-being derived from spending time in pleasurable creative activity is well documented. It makes us feel as though we are living a worthwhile life.  I’m not referring specifically to the creative making of “stuff” from wood or fabric; or activities like painting or writing or photography. These are obvious creative activities. A recent conversation with a friend, who considers that she doesn’t have a creative bone in her body, is the prompt for my thoughts today.

For sure, there are people who consider they possess little or no creativity. It’s like me saying that I’m not competitive. I’m not, until it comes to having a showdown with myself. Then I definitely am and will always give myself a good run for my money. My competitiveness has nothing at all to do with anyone else however, it’s all mine, and how I use it is up to me. Creativity is the same, in that it is individual and means something different to each one of us.

It’s whatever we make of it too. Creativity is about exploring and discovering fresh ways to do any task or activity, so that it takes us outside of our normal everyday habit and comfort zone, and into new pastures. There are opportunities everywhere for us to express ourselves and have fun with creativity in our everyday existence, even when time and money are tight.

“Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things . . . Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative.”— Osho

We can all enjoy the wonderful sense of relaxation and satisfaction that results from being creative, and experience time and mind space away from the everyday humdrum and pressing necessities, space where you can really be you, the original and best version of yourself, free to express your thoughts and ideas in whatever form they take. Creativity is liberating. We just need to ditch the blinkers we’ve got so used over time to habitually wearing.

Off the top of my head, I suggested that my friend might have a shot at a couple of these –

Dressing creatively – experiment mixing and matching different items of clothing and accessories;
Dancing creatively with your favourite music playing loudly – completely losing yourself in the music and the movement;
Cooking creative meals – source some new ideas for dinner and concoct some amazing dishes, or simple dishes even, just make sure they are different to the usual meals you make;
Shifting the furniture round at home; create yourself a new perspective from which to view your world;
Taking a bath with candles flickering and scented bath water – luxuriate creatively for a while;
Gardening – work with the soil and plants to create an area of natural beauty to enjoy;
Travelling a different route to or from work, noting the details of the fresh environment as you pass through it;
Communicating with colleagues in a fresh, creative way;
Spending break times walking outdoors and eating lunch on the hoof instead of sitting in front of a computer;
Learning a new language – download lessons to your phone, and listen in any spare time you have whilst walking or travelling, and speak the unfamiliar new words in a creative out loud voice, fully emphasising the accent of the foreign language.

Less specifically, and once you’ve stopped giggling Mrs H,  try spending your spare time more creatively than you do currently; be active in your leisure pursuits rather than passive. Turn the TV off. No-one needs pointless drivel piped into their home. Nor do we need to be bombarded day and night with news and current affairs, to worry us half to death. If you want to watch something, go to the theatre or the opera or a sports event. Even better, try watching paint dry after you‘ve creatively applied it to a canvas or an old chest of drawers or the walls of your house, or whatever it is that floats your boat.  I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg with these few suggestions; there are a thousand and one different small ways to get creative in a day.

You can't use up creativity

The act of living creatively in selected areas of your life on a regular small-time basis initially means that you are repeatedly practising how to be creative, allowing your creativity to develop, flourish and grow, and ultimately your mind and body benefit. Individual creativity increases a person’s sense of their own worth and self-esteem, and it contributes hugely to personal happiness.

The concentration required in being creative, no matter what the area of interest, means that your mind is channelled precisely into thinking of the present activity only, and it can remain like this for significant periods of time, because you are doing something you have chosen and enjoy. Understanding the benefits of creativity and consciously making it an integral part of our life, opens doors to a wonderful state of mind, that amazing place we get carried away to, where we forget the time and completely lose track of ourselves, simply by concentrating completely and becoming totally engrossed in what we are doing.

If like me, you are a jiffler with an overactive mind, and find sitting quietly in one position really difficult to maintain for the purpose of what’s popularly known as “meditation”, then you may well discover that total absorption in a creative activity is the next best thing. And because your mind is concentrated on just the one thing, and it’s not wandering all over the place, there is less opportunity for random busy thoughts to rush back and forth across your consciousness. Your mind is quiet; you are calm and mindful. For me, creativity works in magical ways.

Creativity is my personal form of meditation. It is the nearest thing to actual meditation I think I’ll ever achieve in my life, and it’s certainly not its poor relation. The richness of it in my memory carries me through long days of work, until the next time I am able to fully focus on my creativity. For those who successfully introduce creativity into their “everyday” the benefits will be profound. Even the most mundane tasks can be made attractive if you apply the principles of creativity to them.

If we only put into practice one or two creative activities / functions in each 24 hours, we will notice the feel good factor it generates. And once we enjoy a regular taste of how amazing living creatively makes us feel, it becomes a habit we really want to adopt and pay attention to.

Once you’ve decided which element of the day you’d first like to get creative with, focus on it, and do what’s needed to make it happen. Do this one thing creatively and with purpose every day for four weeks. The next week, try the same approach with a further additional element of your life each day, whilst continuing with the first element as before. And so on. By repeatedly and consistently doing this on a regular basis, you will eventually be living more creatively.

“Every day is an opportunity to be creative – the canvas is your mind, the brushes and colours are your thoughts and feelings, the panorama is your story, the complete picture is a work of art called, ‘my life’. Be careful what you put on the canvas of your mind today – it matters.”— Innerspace

Only you will know what “creative” means in your world. And I think we should pay very little attention to someone else’s interpretation of it, as we can soon get side-tracked or be put off by another person’s different ideas or criticism.

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.”— Charles Brower

The best thing about creativity is that there’s no correct or incorrect way to do it. One can set about a project knowing that no-one is qualified to tell you that you’re doing it all wrong. In fact, the only mistake you can make when it comes to creativity is to think that you don’t have any. Creativity provides us with the wings of freedom and lets us fly. It allows us to transform the mundane into the extraordinary.

Creativity is

Throughout her teenage years my elder daughter considered that she wasn’t at all creative; that she lacked imagination in art or design or writing. As a grown up she’s a horticulturist. In a job she loves, she is one of the top “creatives” in her company across 150 UK sites. Her work features in magazines in her industry. She now considers herself to be successfully creative, and the self-confidence this has given her is immense. The joy it brings her is beyond measure. How has she achieved this? Firstly, she’s engaged in an activity she genuinely enjoys and secondly, the creative element of her job has to be repeated on a daily basis, with space in her role to experiment. Combine those factors and you have a winning formula.

A useful note here – new habits can be made in 30 days. And old habits can be broken in 30 days – by creating new ones. If we regularly and repeatedly implement a thought or an action it does eventually become a habit.

Another friend started walking 3 miles every day after work to get fit. Some days she struggled to fit it in with a busy work schedule, but she stuck at it. She soon noticed an improvement in her fitness levels, but more than that, the evening walk became a habit, and one that she very much enjoyed. Being outdoors in the fresh air and at one with nature, she was able to clear her mind of the day’s “busyness”. Now my friend puts this daily walk before most other activities; she says that if she has to forego her walk for any reason she really misses it.

The way we get good at stuff is by doing it and then doing it again. And again. We all know this. It’s called practice. Enough said. I hope this has given you a couple or three useful pointers Mrs H.

For those of you who are completely in touch with your own creativity already, I have no desire to teach you how to suck eggs. I’ll leave you with these words though to ponder over – “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda

Do you think creativity is an attitude, and how does it fit into the framework of your everyday life?

All photographs © Suzy Barker 2016 and they may not be used elsewhere

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23 thoughts on “Ditching the blinkers

  1. Great post. I think that everyone posses the quality of creativity. It’s just that some are beaten down by lack of confidence. Can you blame them? Look at the fabulous DIY projects that you can find online. I honestly think in this day and age of Pinterest, and seeing the wonderful projects that have been done, well–it could make a person feel intimidated.
    The point is to just your instinct and do what comes to your mind. We all have that creative spot in our minds!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree entirely that it’s very easy to be disillusioned with your own creative ability, when you compare it to some of the amazing images online and in magazines. The key I think is to “switch off” from that noisy chatter coming at you from all directions, and concentrate on your own ideas and like you say, instincts. Thanks Catherine, I always enjoy your comments.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Suzy, this is wonderful food for thought! I totally agree with you that there are endless ways to be creative and I love your ideas, especially the cooking one (since I get stuck in a bland routine with no new cooking ideas) and the gardening idea. Personally I’ve fostered creativity in my garden by playing around with placement and decorating it with special objects. Your friend can live creatively and I hope she takes your advice and try something new. Thank you so much for inspiring me!❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thankyou for this wonderfully refreshing perspective, Suzy. I like your concept of creativity as in inner phenomenon, rather than it necessarily being the creation of artefacts to hold up to the world, so to speak. For me, there is a definite line between creativity and artistry – albeit perhaps a somewhat arbitrary one – and I think this is sometimes what makes us feel restricted in expressing our creativity. Once we abstract the notion of art, though, then creative expression becomes more an exercise in discovering the very limits of self-expression itself, perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello, I think there’s no line between creativity and artistry, and what makes us feel restricted in expressing our creativity is fear, pure and simple. It’s easy to be afraid of expressing oneself, when you consider all the successfully creative people in the world, and all of the critics just waiting for their next meat feast. I’d like to help people break through that fear barrier to the point of realising that their own creativity and its products and possibilities are valuable and worth pursuing entirely for their own sake, and for what the creator will gain in terms of satisfaction and self-esteem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You think it’s perfectly valid to call us all artists? That appears to be what you are saying, but I can’t buy that at all, as the concept of art then becomes meaningless. I don’t become a Tennis Player in the sense that Martina Navratilova is simply by virtue of picking up a racket and hitting a ball, do I? I accept the rest of what you say, and it largely accords with I myself in part said.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that by drawing a line between the two we psychologically tell ourselves that we are second rate, not quite good enough. And an amble around random art exhibitions here in the UK at least should be sufficient to make creative souls think otherwise. And no, we cannot be a world class tennis player at the drop of a hat; sport is very different to art I feel. Sport is less open to individual interpretation; it’s bound by very definite rules and techniques, whilst art is not so.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderfully uplifting and inspiring post to start my week Suzy. Personally I feel as though I’m going through a change in my life and that things are shifting … in a positive way. So these words and suggestions of adding creativity to our lives were just what I needed to hear. Thanks Suzy and hope you have a wonderful week ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is really profound. As you say, creativity doesn’t have to take a specific form or shape- and it’s not measurable, but it is so life enhancing. This post reaffirms for me a really important element in all of our lives. Like plants, I believe that creativity thrives when we choose to nurture it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have hit the nail right on the head here – “creativity thrives when we choose to nurture it”. I wish I’d thought to put it that way. Thank you for commenting and giving feedback; it’s very much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What particularly struck a chord with me was your insight into creativity as a form of meditation. I, too, have an over-mind, and find it hard to practice ‘actual’ meditation. Engaging in something creative- it might only be knitting or crochet, helps me to switch off the train of thoughts and recharge.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When I am at the computer, lost in the world I have created, I am in another place. Not planet Earth, not outer space, not the fourth dimension. Just some other place. A favorite writer of mine described it all falling into his little black hole. it is a great place to be.

    Loved this,
    Tim

    Liked by 1 person

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