Have you ever stared at a blank piece of paper and the first thoughts that go through your head are
I don’t know what to draw
I can’t draw
I do not have a creative bone in my body.
Have you ever been asked by your child to draw something and have uttered the words
…ok but I’m not very good at drawing
…sorry it’s not very good
Since the dawn of time humans have been expressed themselves in many ways, much of what we know about our ancestors are from images on cave walls, music and stories that have been passed down through generations.
But in the modern world of technology, fast living and full lives what does it mean to be creative, what does, and can creativity look like?
Well for a start let me put your mind at ease, creativity is not as narrow as being able to draw, paint, or play a musical instrument. The Cambridge definition of creativity is: ‘the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas’. So, from this, we can then start to form the idea that moves away from the often-narrow school of thought that if you cannot draw, paint or play a piece of music you are not creative. So much of what we think of as not being a creative person is actually a lack of creative confidence, for more on this see the TED Talk by David Kelly on How to build your creative confidence.
There are other forms of creativity, and in fact, if you can come up with a new idea, think outside the box, form a plan in your mind, deviate from the recipe to make something new, or you can imagine something different to your current reality, you are in fact, creative.
I often get scoffed at when I make this statement, but it is something I do firmly believe and I wish wholeheartedly that everyone believed, that I am happy to stand on my soapbox and shout it from the rooftops.
But don’t just take my word for it, there have been several studies done that prove this is the case, the most well known by George Land & Beth Jarman. In this study started in 1968, George Land gave 1,600 5-year-old children a creativity test to see how highly creative they scored. These are the results:
|Age group Tested||Number tested||Year of testing||Percentage who scored in the Highly creative range|
|5 Year-olds||1,600 children||1968||98%|
|10 Year-olds||1,600 children||1978||30%|
|15 Year-olds||1,600 children||1983||12%|
|25+ Year-olds||280,000 Adults||1985||2%|
He concluded that non-creative behaviour is learned. We can then conclude that EVERYONE is creative. In their own way of course, but creativity does not exclude anyone, and we have just lost our creative confidence along the way.
So, what does this tell us about what creativity can look like? It tells us that creativity is more than just being able to draw and paint.
Writing a new work procedure
Building with blocks or Lego
Creating a new spreadsheet
Journaling (a personal favourite of mine, being an avid bullet journaler)
Why is all of this so important to me, why do I care that everyone thinks they are creative in their own way, after all, it takes all types of people to make up the world right?!
I care because creativity is SO GOOD FOR YOU! It doesn’t matter what form your creativity takes, it is good for your mind, body and mental health, and now more than ever this is incredibly important!
It predicts a longer life
That’s right peeps, if you invest in your creative self, according to this Scientific America Article researchers found that ‘Only creativity – not intelligence or overall openness – decreased mortality risk’ Now that is fantastic news right!?
It increases happiness
Following your creative pursuits on a regular basis can have a similar effect on the mind as meditation. During the creative process as you problem-solve, think innovatively, overcome failure and create something from nothing, you also significantly improve your self-confidence.
Studies show that dementia patience who regularly undertake some sort of creative activity has decreased rates of depression and isolation and can sometimes even rediscover certain parts of their personality. In this article published on the American National Library of Medicine, researchers found that ‘Creative activity has been shown to reduce depression and isolation, offering the power of choice and decisions. Towards the end of life, art and creativity offer a path of opening up the windows to people’s emotional interiors.’ (Hannemann BT. Creativity with dementia patients. Can creativity and art stimulate dementia patients positively?. Gerontology. 2006;52(1):59-65. DOI:10.1159/000089827)
It improves mental health
Creativity releases dopamine, the bodies natural anti-depressant. It helps focus the mind in almost a mediative way and reduces anxiety, depression and stress. Studies have shown that creative pursuits like journaling, painting and drawing can also help with expressing negative emotions in a more productive way.
I think we all intuitively know that being creative is good for us. We know this because as we partake in the creative pursuits that resonate with us, we feel an immense sense of satisfaction and joy. This is especially obvious in children, who through their creative exploration of the world find new ways of doing and learning what we as adults have to some degree lost through the filter that we develop over many years of loosing our creative confidence. Even I, who spends a lot of time creatively in some form or another, can sometimes look at a blank page and just feel a sense of apprehension and anxiety that can at times be paralysing.
So how do we get our creative confidence back?
If you would like to try something new and rediscover your creative confidence, we have a few creative kits that are especially for beginners, with basic supplies to help you flex your creative muscles. You can find them here. If you have a child who loves all the creative stuff, and you are sometimes stumped for ideas on what to do with them, we have also written an eBook with tonnes of creative fun to explore with them, you can find that here.