“Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”
— Dee Hock
Young children are often divided into two categories: creative types and not-so creative types. Many times, this differentiation comes from one’s experiences in childhood. Artistic children who are nimble with drawing or music often get the “creative” label. Those whose minds revolve around logic are not placed in the creative boat. But being creative really has nothing to do with labels. Everyone — artistical or logical — has the capacity to nurture creativity.
There are geniuses and prodigies, but creativity isn’t something we’re born with. It is something we develop over time. It is like a well and you just need to draw from it. You can start developing a creative life with a little help from science. There is no one formula to guarantee the creative juices will start following, but forming a few habits can help you cultivate a new way of life.
Here are three things science says highly creative people do:
Their work is wherever they are.
Conditions are almost never perfect or favorably for creative work. But again it doesn’t have to be. Creativity begins in the mind and can transfer to any place in the world so long as the creator is there. Emotional intelligence author, Travis Bradberry, writes in Forbes, “Studies show that changing environments is beneficial to productivity and creativity.”
If you’re waiting for a perfect time free of interruptions or a sunny weather forecast, you’re likely not going to get it and will probably never fully realize your dreams. If your work is confined to a certain time and specific place, you’re waving a hand to creativity.
They are fiercely curious.
More often than not, when people set out to change the world in some way, they start by asking a question and then working feverishly to find or create an answer. Innate curiosity gets their minds thinking in terms of “next,” “possible,” and “opportunity.” To be the smartest person in the room is a sign that your environment has stagnated and it will be a matter of time before you take the same path.
Curiosity helps us to focus on what can be made or done differently. It challenges, and ultimately changes, the status quo. Kelsey Ruger, Vice President Design and Innovation at ChaiOne, writes in The WaterCooler, “Creative companies know that people who are inherently curious tend to experience life much differently.”
They intentionally let their minds wander.
Despite what your grade school teachers may have taught you, daydreaming does not equate to laziness. People who cultivate creativity on a regular basis intentionally let their minds travel all on their own. Psychologists Barry Kaufman and Rebecca L. McMillan believe that letting one’s mind wander can assist in the “creative incubation” process.
For a creative person, daydreaming is a form of concentration. We all know that some of our best ideas and thoughts come to us when we are not really thinking about them. Often, we get stuck in narrow-mindedness. Only when we free our minds from focusing on one task or one goal are we able to consider other alternatives and solutions.
They turn obstacles into opportunities.
Many resilient and brilliant ideas, products, corporations, and people have been born out of struggle, pain, and loss. We tend to reject anything that could cause us pain because it is uncomfortable. But research particularly from the post-traumatic growth department shows that heartbreak, even in its slightest form, could be the catalyst for developing and nurturing creativity.
Enduring a life-changing or a life-shattering event changes one’s view of life and reality. It also causes us to step out of the known into the unknown and see life from a new perspective. When something has gone horribly wrong, it is our innate desire to look for ways in which to fix the mess. Research shows that a traumatic experience helps us grow and opens us up to new opportunities that we would not have been able to see if we had not had the experience.
“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”
— Carl Sagan