DO WHAT COMES NATURALLY (CREATIVITY = ANTICIPATION + CHOICE)
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
Header Photo credit: “Future” by Max Boschini via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
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24 thoughts on “DO WHAT COMES NATURALLY (CREATIVITY = ANTICIPATION + CHOICE)”
I forget who said it but it has been said that every person in their lifetime will invent 3 great things out of necessity. The problem lies in that only 1 in 1,000 of them will give it more than a passing thought, and 1 in 10,000 will follow up and follow through.
Imagine where we would be if everyone brought their solutions to life problems to fruition?
Thanks for some great thoughts to ponder.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Andy. Wow! Your thought-construct blows me away!
Please do come again….
Thank you for this very interesting article about creativity.
I agree I am not my past, but now I have the choice how to use my past. I can either think negatively and assume that because I wasn’t successful in the past, so I won’t be in the future. Or I can learn from my past and do it better in the future.
So, is being positive connected with creativity?
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Kristof.
Myself, I don’t know whether being positive is connected with creativity. I do know that saying “Yes” and “Going!” very often is a lot more fun than saying “No” with a side order of whining and whimpering.
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Very interesting to see that creativity equals anticipation plus choice. In this world where laziness has become the norm, creativity has definitely become something that many people see has a talent.
I’m glad you brought up that all humans naturally can be creative. Creativity is definitely about making a choice. We can either solve our problems or let them remain problems.
There is one thing I would like your opinion on. I’ve been trying to get people in my family to solve their own problems instead of complaining about them, but instead what happens is they create a new problem for every solution.
How would you convince someone else create solutions despite the new problems?
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Kevin.
Not sure I’m going to be much help answering your question, though.
It always seems that solutions for an old problem often results in other, different problems that then require more solutions that then lead to…well, you get the idea.
I really do think that problem-solving is a never-ending thing. It is, in fact, choosing a different, most intriguing life-style. (Moaning about being stuck in suck and finding reasons “why” doesn’t help a heck of a lot, as I’m sure you’ve found as well.)
And f’r real, there is no such thing as a solution that actually once-and-for-all solves all the problems you will ever encounter if you live long.
Myself, I think a good question to ask yourself when you’re in the middle of suck is how much are you willing to do to get out of the suckiness. Do you hate it enough to do something about it? If not, then, where does that leave you?
It could be that the ones who are busy whining about their sucky life are just playing the “Yes, but…” game. They listen to all the good advice and then they say, “Yes, yes, you’re so right, but…. [fill in the blank about why the suggestion will not work.]”
Making excuses is a formidable form of creativity. I say applaud them for their creativity and then leave them in their suck. Obviously, they are not ready yet to consider better and more effective uses for their creativity.
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To me creativity and curiosity are closely related. My boss once told me that I was the most creative person he had ever met, and I agree that I am creative. I am also very curious. I have an insatiable desire to know about everything I come into contact with. I think creativity is inherit and can also be developed over time. Good post by the way
Patrick, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do agree that creativity and curiosity are very much intertwined.
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Netta – it is an awful powerful message delivered in a different way to think about creativity and control of one’s self of life, living and accomplishing the best that you can. There is a lot there to think about and how to bring the best out of any individual that desires to do so.
It is a teriffic site that is well put together and definitely gets across the points that you want to. I wish you the very best.
Edward, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate it.
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wow! A nice piece of work. I have been reading motivational piece but your article has been of great benefit after reading. it has gotten multi-media tools that will cater to all persons. Great job.
I would like to find out, how will one identify his or her potential to be able to create?
DerrAd, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I’m pleased the post was helpful to you.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that the only way a person can figure out where his or her propensities for creating lies is to just go do stuff…whatever seems interesting or intriguing. Just starting to work on something leads you to other interesting places and other interesting tasks.
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Wow what a wonderful positive motivation post!. I accept to do what comes naturally by overcoming negative emotions. I like this motivation, Overcoming negative emotions will make me know why I feel the way I do. Accepting all emotions as naturally and understandable is a way to success.
I hope THINK FORWARD TO THRIVE will help me to overcome my emotions. How do I let go of negative thoughts and fear?
Shimba, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I am glad you found the post helpful.
I also think that you’ve answered your own question. If you’re busy thinking forward towards thriving and how you can get there, then you aren’t paying attention to negative thoughts and fears, are you?
My own feeling is that if you start doing stuff that aligns with your thoughts about thriving, then you’re already stepping towards your own rescue.
I like your article on how creativity and the power you contain is based on what you do today and not what you were in the past. I think that I forget to take this into account and just think that I am not that great because I haven’t done that much in the past.
Your motivational video has made an impact on me and I think this website could be impactful with more traffic.
Jon, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts. I am glad the post resonated with you.
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Thanks for this concise article, talking about creativity.
It is important to note that some culture is a key factor that influences cross-cultural assessment and determines individuals’ or groups’ creativity in diverse settings. This effect might be considered a familiarity effect (cultural customs) rather than a truly superior creativity.
Individuals tends to develop their creativity according to the culture of their land.
Thanks for coming with such an article.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts edahnewton1. I do appreciate your point about the influence of culture on an individual’s creativity.
However, I have known many individuals who begin with the traditions of their culture and then take them to a new level by synthesizing new modes of thought into their interpretations of the old ways. These ones soar and the heart-connection of their work can be powerful.
Last night, for instance, I was listening to Nina Simone again. OMG! What a powerhouse the woman was as a musician whose work became so much more than just tradition or just modern-day expression. For me, she epitomizes this synthesis of old and new stylings that can take you soaring too.
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This has been an encouraging post. Thank you.
Yes, I agree that most of the time we believe that we are not creative. That we can not impact the world around us. But as you have shown us, all we need is to realize we’re humans and that’s all we need to be able to impact other humans.
This is something a lot of people don’t realize.
Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Paolo. You made me smile.
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This is a fascinating subject and one that I feel I should have a lot to say about.
Reading this article I think you are trying to get behind the elements that determine whether someone expresses their creativity and creates something tangible or doesn’t and stays stuck. I think Vilhauer has hit on a key issue of that difference. Leaning our thinking toward the future and desired future outcomes could well be one of those critical components that makes all the difference.
Picking up on another comment here from another Andy, we all create but so few of us do anything about it. It makes me think of all the inventions I didn’t quite develop into the prototype phase over the years.
While this is a fun subject it is also a very serious one. There is plenty of evidence that failure to exercise and express our creativity through some avenue or other, can lead to deep frustration, depression, and other seriously negative impacts on our lives.
So we all owe it to ourselves to find ways to let our creativity flourish.
Best regards, Andy
Andy, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts that add to (and expand on) the post. I do appreciate it.
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It’s fascinating to watch how anticipation plus choice equals creativity. In a society where lethargy has been the norm, creativity has become something that many people regard as a skill.
I’m delighted you mentioned that all humans are innately creative. Making a decision is an important part of creativity. We have the option of solving our problems or allowing them to continue to be difficulties.
There’s one item I’d want to hear your thoughts on. I’ve been attempting to persuade members of my family to fix their own problems rather than whine about them, but they instead create a new problem for every solution.
Your motivational video has had an impact on me, and I believe that with more traffic, this website might have an even greater impact.
My own feeling is that a person who needs to be “persuaded” to look for solutions rather than manufacture more problems may not be ready or willing to do anything but whine.
In my own experience, I have found it hard enough to just work on changing my own self. Perhaps you may have a different experience, but as far as I can tell, all the wise guys and smarty pants advise against pushing others to work on this stuff…mostly because it doesn’t work and it sure gets irritating after a while (for you and for them).
I’m glad you are finding my posts helpful.