All the wise guys say it: Creativity is a human birthright.
As long as you’re human, they say, you have the capacity to “consciously relate and participate in the world” and, out of that, you make stuff that affects the world and everything and everyone around you.
Even the guys in lab coats agree. The main thing that distinguishes us humans from the other critters wandering around on the planet is our jones for seeing and solving problems.
We stumble upon a problem and we fiddle with it.
We connect ideas, or we disconnect and rearrange them. We pile these ideas all up. We let them moosh together, marinate and interact with each other and…and…
And voilà: A new possibility or even a solution glimmers out at us.
If we scope it out and scoop it up, we might even come up with a new something that actually works to mitigate or to resolve the problem we started with.
That’s “creativity” in a nutshell.
A YouTube video, ”Everybody Is Creative – How to use your natural creativity,” touches on this concept and explains the difference between basic “creativity” and “being artistic.” It was published in 2015 by Aussie life coach Blair Robinson.
It’s as natural for humans to create objects and mind-constructs, situations and solutions as it is for birds to fly or fish to swim. We all do it. Every day.
Many native peoples don’t even have a word in their own language for the act of creating. At least, they don’t have one that is as loaded with the kind of baggage we post-modern sorts have piled on our C-word.
For many indigenous peoples, creativity is just one more part of being alive and one more way of getting to gracefulness.
Hawaiians, for example, call creative endeavors “hana” which means “work”. To create is to “ho’okumu”, “to begin.”
Behind that bit of naming is an understanding that if you know where you are right now and you can clearly see your anticipated destination, then you will have a better idea of what you need to do to get there.
By tapping into your natural inherent creative abilities, the ubiquitous “They” will tell you, you will be able to figure out the moves you need to make in order to get to where you want to be.
SO, IF CREATIVITY IS A NATURAL HUMAN TRAIT, WHY DOESN’T IT COME EASY?
Many folks who study and think on these things have figured out that we humans are all hardwired more or less the same. We come into the world carrying a toolbox with the same basic tools – a body, a mind, and a spirit.
The quality of the tools in each of our toolboxes may differ, of course. Many of the tools in our individual toolboxes were inherited from the long, long lines of different ancestors we each have.
The thing about those tools is that each of us also has the innate ability to upgrade the tools we start with and to develop more effective ways to use them.
Some of us become particularly successful at solving the problems we encounter. Others of us have a tendency to get all tangled up in them.
For those of us who belong in the latter group, it does not help us to be told that we are the “creators of our own lives.” (Instead of being an uplifting sort of mantra, this universal wisdom could become a mantle of defeat instead.)
Take, for example, this truly lovely “Motivational Minute,” a YouTube video published in 2018 by Your World Within that reminds you that “you are not your past.”
The truth encapsulated in this YouTube video is the very real effect that brooding on your past mistakes and missteps can have on you when you’re trying to transform your way of walking through the world.
Creativity (as well as the failure to tap into it), when you come right down to it, actually grows out of our very human tendency to anticipate and to think on all of the possible outcomes in any situation we happen to be facing.
And, very often, if we’ve been less than successful at solving the problems we’ve faced in the past, then we may also develop a tendency to expect that we will not be quite as successful as we would like at solving the problems we now face.
GETTING PAST YOUR PAST
Psychologist Jennice Vilhauer, is the author of THINK FORWARD TO THRIVE: How to Use the Mind’s Power of Anticipation to Transcend Your Past and Transform Your Life.
Vilhauer’s career has been spent exploring why some people are able to use the human ability to anticipate outcomes to transcend their current situations and resolve chronic problems in their lives while others are not.
This research resulted in her creating Future Directed Therapy, a psychological intervention technique that has been used successfully to treat depression.
The technique was built on a very simple strategy: developing an awareness of the effect your past has had on the expectations you currently hold and making appropriate choices now that can lead to a more satisfying future.
Vilhauer’s information-packed book includes step-by-step exercises that can help you apply the results of her years of study and clinical research findings.
The book was first published in 2013. The exercises address issues that are a part of our pop-psychology lexicon. They are designed to help you do the following:
- Overcome negative emotions
- Identify what you want in life
- Transform limiting beliefs
- Take action
- Live ready for success
It’s that last one — the one that very often gets ignored — that the good doctor addresses in this 2015 TEDxPeachtree Talk, “Why You Don’t Get What You Want; It’s Not What You Expect.”
According to her, the reason why so many of us get tangled up is our automatic tendency to use the past to predict the future.
Very often thinking on the things that happened in the past can cause you to focus too much on what can go wrong instead of considering what could go right.
The irony of this is that, for real, what has happened in the past is just one possible outcome out of all the ones that could have happened. That is something you tend to forget when you remember and rehash how you messed it up the last time you tried something.
You can, indeed, do things differently – if you are prepared to look at other possible outcomes than the ones that happened before.
Vilhauer points out that if you are aware of your expectations in a situation, then you are better able to use your conscious mind to override this automatic tendency to expect your future to be the same as your past.
You can, instead, make your own plan for creating a different future outcome. You can live “ready for success” rather than continue to live in anticipation of yet another failure.
THREE SIMPLE QUESTIONS
Vilhauer says there are three simple questions you can ask yourself. (Your answers to these questions will help you figure out what moves you need to take.)
- How is what I am expecting making me feel?
- What would I like to happen instead?
- What do I need to do to make what I want happen?
Then, of course, you have to go do the steps.
Looking at the expectations you hold about any situation you are facing and then figuring out how to create a different outcome for yourself than what has happened in your past seems to me to be a most useful strategy.
It’s such a simple (but not easy) change of perspective: If you don’t like where the trails and byways and highways you’ve followed before took you, why not try a different one?
Here’s a poem….
YOU CAN ONLY ACCEPT
Surrender, they say,
Is the key to survival.
And even though you feel like
You are running through some jungle
Dodging bullets and bombs,
The real is that it probably is not so.
Life-It’s-Own-Self does not have to be a war.
It is not this one thing or that.
Life is only choices,
And no matter how others jostle
To make room for their own dreams,
Their getting theirs does not mean
You must give up yours.
Surrender is the first step to
Making more room.
Maybe you don’t know.
Maybe nobody told you:
All dreams and schemes
Can co-exist if the
Space is big enough.
Mind can contain mountains.
Heart can embrace the world.
Spirit can encompass it all.
These things are insubstantial
And they are most elastic.
It’s you who sets the limits.
It’s you who lets your past
Define your future.
Get over it.
By Netta Kanoho
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