What is Creativity?
The modern view of creativity, as we view it today, developed during the 1920s following the birth of psychology at the end of the 19th century. Prior to this time, ideas or innovations were described as “discoveries”, “divine inspiration”, or a product of imagination and/or intelligence.
Only recently do we associate creativity with a focus on the individual and those individuals’ unique capabilities and personalities. In other words, creativity is now thought of as an ability or personality trait.
Though our definition of “creativity” may be new, a quick overview of history would tell us that people have been “creative” and “innovative” since the dawn of time. Thinking outside of the box and advancing art, culture, and technology would not be possible otherwise.
So, how do we describe our view of creativity? According to one article “Creativity is a skill that allows you to draw understanding of the world around you, connect those observations to your existing knowledge reservoirs, and imagine new applications of your knowledge on the world.”
It is an ability, specific to an individual, that goes beyond traditional ways of acting or thinking and moves from imagination to concrete development.
Where does it come from?
Left Brain (Creative) vs. Right Brain (Analytical)
Neither side is an island unto its self and the real key here is how well they communicate with each other.
In fact, brain imaging technology used in recent research has not found any evidence of right or left brain dominance. Generally, the right side of the brain was more proficient at spatial tasks, while the left side was the center of language and problem-solving.
It’s all about connections.
Neuroscientists have identified three large networks of the brain that are most important in creativity:
- Executive Attention Network: helps with attention and focus
- Imagination Network: allows daydreaming and ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes
- Salience Network: responsible for making connections between the stored knowledge in your brain and your environment
The more active these networks are and the more they work together, the more creative you can be.
Can you practice creativity?
Yes! Just as a person can practice to be a better runner, you can practice to be more creative. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving any new skill so we have gathered (below) a short list of activities and practices that will help you stir the juices of creativity, whether it be for home or work.
The Beauty of Creativity
Creativity truly is a part of any effort that brings something good into the world, whether that is making the perfect PB&J sandwich, raising a loving and confident child, or creating an original painting. Throughout our lives, each one of us will be called, in our own unique ways, to find creative methods to work through what life presents to us. We can never be sure how our ideas and creations will touch someone else’s life. And know this, you will touch another’s life, no matter how large, small, stunning, or mundane you feel your efforts are.
By taking an active role in strengthening our creativity, we are opening ourselves up to the vulnerable position of failing. Failing is part of learning. The old saying of “You only fail when you stop trying” will never change. So, be confident, be kind to yourself when you fail, and keep on being creative!