Courting Creativity: accessing our inner genius to create the life we want

I’m listening to an audiobook called The Genius Zone: the breakthrough process to end negative thinking and live in true creativity, by Gay Hendricks (sounds right up my street doesn’t it?) 

As with many self-development books I’ve read (or listened to), it isn’t saying anything I don’t already know on some level, but often it takes someone else to point things out in a way that sets off that all important lightbulb (aha!)

One of the most interesting ideas I’ve come across in the book is that we are all born to create.  Hendricks argues that creativity is an innate part of human nature, and many of the numbing activities we engage in, such as emotional eating, excess drinking, drug taking, smoking and negative thinking, have their root cause in creative stagnation: ultimately, we’re distracting ourselves from the pain of not fully expressing our creativity, or genius, as Hendricks terms it.

Hands up if you’re creative

Hendricks posits that failing to acknowledge or embrace our natural creativity can contribute to anxiety, depression and problematic (addictive) behaviour.  Yet how many of us think of ourselves as creative? 

I’ve certainly never believed myself to be a creative person, even after creating this blog.

But what does it mean to be creative?  Whilst we usually associate creativity with the arts, being creative is much more than artistic capability.  Ever made a dish with whatever ingredients are left over in the fridge?  That’s creativity.  Ever thrown a party, or changed up your wardrobe for a new look?  Creativity is needed for both those things.  In fact, creativity is needed whenever we need to solve a problem, so most of us use creativity in some form or another on a regular basis, we’re just not aware of it.

What’s with the excuses?

Like many people,  I can think up a hundred and one ways why something I’d like to try won’t work. I squander my creative energy constructing elaborate barriers to the very thing I suspect I’d love to try.

We all have something in life we yearn to do: exercise, travel, learn a language, yet we all have a myriad of (sometimes very creative) reasons why we can’t do the thing we want: there’s no time/ no money / one day / I couldn’t possibly because of the kids / spouse / goldfish.

The human brain is adept at distracting itself in a myriad of ways from the things in life we want most.

All too often we blame our failure to pursue what we want on the distractions of the modern age, but apparently even medieval monks complained of information overload, forgetfulness, lack of focus, and overstimulation. 

It seems self-sabotage has always been a very human problem.

If flushing our phones down the toilet and retreating to a snug little cabin in the woods to find ourselves (a personal fantasy of mine) isn’t the answer to expanding our creativity, what the heck is?

Instead of grand gestures, how about small overtures?  I’ve heard it said that creativity is a bit like a muscle, the more we flex it the bigger it gets, so perhaps novel approaches to our everyday routines would be a good place to start?  How about taking a different route to work?  Try a new coffee shop, visit somewhere new, or schedule a small amount of time to let your mind wander into a good old daydream?

Or, what if, instead of using our energy to think of all the ways a thing we want is impossible, we applied that energy to thinking of all the ways we could make that thing happen?  This concept lights me up.  I’ve spent so long building my own barriers to creativity that beginning to tear them down and consider new ways of doing things fills me with energy and excitement.

Hendricks writes that we need to treat our creativity like we would a lover and woo it with our undivided attention, make time and space for it, court it and let it know we appreciate it.

I’d agree that time and space are necessary factors in expanding our creativity, but constraints can also breed creativity too.  The lockdown is a prime example of how these two things can work together.  This period gave many of us more time, freed from commitments of travelling to work and social pressures, but also threw up constraints to working, shopping and living that required a myriad of creative solutions.

During this period I took to making relatives and friends hand-made cards and celebration videos for special occasions.  I had the time to do this because we weren’t rushing around with day-to-day commitments, and the constraints of not being able to go to the shops to buy these things or see my loved ones to celebrate with them meant that my mind cast about for creative alternatives.  There was also the novelty factor (at least in the first lockdown), which is a great impetus for creativity.

The biggest barrier I consistently construct to the thing I most want to do (write) is always time.  I used to think I needed hours to sit down and write to be a writer, but through trial and error I’ve found that little and often can work just as well. 

For me, courting my creativity looks like writing every morning: be it a journal entry, a few lines of a poem, an idea for a blog or just some random thoughts in the notes app on my phone. Showing up consistently with a small step towards writing allows me to meet my current writing goals of posting twice weekly on my blog.

Once we’ve taken a small step towards inviting creativity into our lives, we often find out more about what lights us up, then we can do more of that, perpetuating even more creativity, and with enough courtship we could find ourselves on a path to creating the life of our dreams.

What ways do you bring creativity into your day-to-day life?

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

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