Poet Dorothy Parker once said, “Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.” Imagination and creativity are two topics that we discuss frequently here. Indeed, they are two of the greatest strengths of human nature and increase both our productivity and sense of fulfillment in life. But what if the slog of our daily routine has caused us to feel disconnected from these superpowers? How can we get back our “wild mind” and “disciplined eye,” our best place of creativity? And how can we model those skills for our kids?
Let’s take a page from an excellent guide, “Wired to Create, Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, by psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman and Huffington Post writer Carolyn Gregoire. Kaufman noticed that the most creative folk have curious paradoxes in their ways of thinking and being, “messy minds” full of traits that don’t usually coexist, like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration. The authors posit that it is this very delicate dance of contradictions which gives rise to the intense inner drive to create, and proceed to untangle these paradoxes to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity.
Here are ten aspects of creative pursuit the authors invite us to ponder as we nurture our own inner world:
- Creative people engage in imaginative play as adults. They seek to recreate the sense of wonder that they experienced as children at play.
- Creative people have a passion for their work, which helps them feel motivated and inspired. Without this passion, they would soon lose interest when faced with a difficult task. “That is the sound I want to make.” ~ cellist Jacqueline du Pre’s words at age 4 when she first heard the sound of a cello.
- Creative people need space to daydream and fantasize. They need to let go of the thinking brain and let the unconscious brain take over. “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” — Carl Jung
- Creative people enjoy solitude because it lets them slow down long enough to observe and appreciate their own ideas. Then they can take the time to reflect and make new connections. Being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely. “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” —Henry David Thoreau
- Creative people listen to their intuition, that gut feeling which we all have. Creative people are able to tap into their intuition, a form of unconscious reasoning. “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” —Albert Einstein
- Creative people are open to new experiences-they want to broaden their horizons so they can make connections in a new way. Curiosity replaces fear of the unknown, allowing more possibilities to exist for innovative thinking. “The best teacher is experience.” ~ Jack Kerouac, American novelist
- Mindfulness means being completely aware of what you are doing and in the moment. It is the capacity to deeply observe. Creative people know that the present is the only real moment we have. “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Highly creative people often have profound sensitivity, an unusual depth of feeling. They often pick up on the little things in the environment that others miss. They engage in life with greater depth than others. “The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.” —Pearl S. Buck
- People who experience traumatic events often strive to make sense of their emotional state. Creativity can become a positive coping mechanism after a difficult experience by turning adversity into advantage. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor Frankl, Austrian Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Author and Holocaust Survivor
- Creative people are willing to think differently and embrace the very real risk of uncertainty and failure. This act is what makes space for true innovation. “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” – Apple ad, 1997
If you notice these traits in yourself or your child, nurture them, appreciate them, and invite them out to play more often. You’ll be glad you did. And you may just find that life feels more spacious and a little sunnier to boot! And don’t forget the value of sharing books with your children that focus on the power of imagination, like my Space Cop Zack series.
If you’re looking for a series of exciting adventure books that helps reluctant readers, take a peek at the award-winning Sir Kaye series published by Cardboard Box Adventures Publishing. The audio editions of the Sir Kaye books are available on Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes.