Our Natural State of Being
The term ‘creativity’ or creative process has been defined in many ways:
- Creativity is not confined to any individual, group of individuals, caste, color or creed. It is not bound by the barriers of age, location or culture.
- Creativity is innate as well as acquired. Although many research findings and incidents favor the suggestion that creativity is a God-given gift and natural endowment, the influence of cultural background, experiences, education, and training in the nurturing of creativity cannot be ruled out. Thus creativity may be correctly said to be a function of the natural endowment as well as its nurturing. It is a combination of responses or ideas in novel ways.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” —Steve Jobs
“Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self.” —Erich Fromm
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it” —Michelangelo
“An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.” —Pablo Picasso
“Being the core motor of innovation and development, creativity is an important human characteristic or, perhaps, even something more: “a mode or essence of being that represents pure human potential” ( Lemons, G. 2010).
New and Unique
The term creativity refers to the ability to produce something that is both new and valuable. The product of creative thinking may be a new and unique way of conceptualizing the world around us. The emphasis in creative thinking is on the word ‘new’:
“Creativity implies the products of totally or partially novel identity”—Stagner and Karowski.
“Creativity is the capacity of a person to produce composition products or ideas which are essentially new or novel and previously unknown to the producer”— Drevdahl.
“Creativity is the power of the human mind to create new contents by transforming relations and thereby generating new correlates”—Spearman.
“Creativity is the ability to see things in a new and unusual light, to see problems that no one else may even realize its existence, and then to come up with new, unusual, and effective solutions”—Papalia and Olds.
“Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.” —Joseph Conrad
"Nothing happens unless first we dream."— Carl Sandburg
In creative art, there is an assembling of relevant materials from different sources. But this synthetic process though certainly present is only half the story. Thinking of a fish and a woman is not imagining a mermaid, which requires an artistic insight. The whole is the work of creative imagination, which is present to the mind before the arts are worked out.
“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” —Henry David Thoreau
“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will” — George Bernard Shaw
“The soul never thinks without a picture.” — Aristotle
“Gratitude is a way of creativity” — Nadia Bandura
Deepak Chopra says, “The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety.”
Scientific studies have proven there is a link between gratitude and creative problem-solving. When we experience positive emotions we enhance our ability to solve problems and come up with more ideas for actions.
“People's beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities. Ability is not a fixed property; there is huge variability in how you perform. People who have a sense of self-efficacy bounce back from failure; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.” — Albert Bandura (From Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, 1996)
Self-confidence is one of the qualities that are helpful in creative output. The science of creativity can help us do this (of course!).
Confidence in one's own ability or one's self-efficacy is an important cognitive and social trait determining and sustaining work performance. In order to build creative self-efficacy, educators need to demonstrate the difficulty of creative work and then celebrate the success of a creative outcome. Then the work of being creative can be approached with a more determined and dedicated mindset instead of just wishing that the muses would strike. Half of the story of creation is left untold if the ‘novel and original product’ and the ‘aha’ moment are the only moments of the creative process viewed as important. Many would say that creativity is a fixed attribute. Research has refuted this myth. One study found that giving more chances for creative work can raise levels of creativity when measured on creativity tests (Amabile, 1996) and sometimes just the admonition to be creative can raise levels of creativity when measured with creativity tests. Such findings also coincide with findings regarding mastery experiences and self-efficacy. Provided with more mastery experiences one’s self-efficacy can rise.
“People who believe they have the power to exercise some measure of control over their lives are healthier, more effective and more successful than those who lack faith in their ability to effect changes in their lives.” — Albert Bandura
Collection of Experiences
“Most of the images of reality on which we base our actions are really based on vicarious experience.” — Albert Bandura
Creativity is adventurous and open thinking. Creativity is not a product of stereotyped, rigid and closed thinking. It encourages and demands complete freedom to accept and express the multiplicity of responses, choices, and ways of action.
Jim Rohn said that life is a collection of experiences and our responsibility is to make sure we have more positive ones than negative. We all have bad experiences, but some people don’t seem to learn from them because they don’t reflect on them. Moreover, they don’t want to admit that they could have reacted differently or have taken responsibility. Responsibility means asking: what can I do with that situation? I cannot change what happened, but I can decide how I react to it and build on it. In contrast, making the shift to a new life path that I actually resonate with leads to a more accomplished, and personally meaningful life than I ever could have imagined.
Creating Life as an Art
Creativity is not limited to the arts. When people think of what it means to be creative, the first thing that comes to mind is often artistic ability or being gifted in the performing arts. In reality, however, creativity comes in all shapes and sizes across domains. Creativity has a wide scope. Creative expression is not restricted by any limits or boundaries. It covers all fields and activities of human life in any of which one is able to demonstrate creativity by expressing or producing a new idea or object. When we stop limiting creativity to artistic ability, we can begin to see opportunities for creativity literally everywhere.
“Everything is the product of one universal creative effort. There is nothing dead in Nature.” —Lucius Seneca
“One of the most important reasons for living is to put together an idea, an idea that you want to explore and then complete.” — J. Palanc
"There is nothing like a dream to create the future. Utopia today, flesh and blood tomorrow." —Victor Hugo
“It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project” —Napoleon Hill
And, if it’s true for creativity, it must be true for life, correct?