Imagination is more important than knowledge. So said Albert Einstein.
Before iPads and video games, X-box, Warcraft and the other endless parades of new games, kids used their imagination.
Like a muscle that goes unused, imagination can atrophy over time.
We come to depend on someone or something else to manage our time and emptiness, our moods and boredom. We can become addicted to this reliance on others to invent our way out of our daily dilemmas.
It’s often said that each of us has creativity as part of our makeup. If this is true, and if being creative is so useful to us, why then do so few of us use it?
How does our innate creativity get lost and how do we go about retrieving it?
Businesses increasingly say “we want someone who can think outside the box.”
How do we learn to do that?
In our recent newsletters we have been exploring William Glasser’s theory that in order to be happy, we must have five needs met.
1. Survival, food, water and safety.
2. Love and belonging.
3. To be significant and competent.
4. Freedom and autonomy.
5. Fun and learning.
Fun and learning, is closely connected to the need to be creative.
Children seem masters at being creative, it’s called play.
Everyone, it’s been said, is an artist of sorts. The carpenter, the millwright, the doctor, the mechanic, the mother, the child, the fly-tying fisherman, the builder of kites, the disabled person who paints with his mouth or foot, the computer program designer.
Who doesn’t have some source of inspiration from which they draw enjoyment, deriving a sense of well-being, confidence, and capacity? Every person has natural resources, despite how hidden or forgotten they have become.
To get in touch with our often forgotten creative or fun side, it helps to think back to things you enjoyed doing as a child. Research has shown that things we enjoy doing tend to stay constant over our life time, like a personality trait.
Unfortunately, many of us simply quit doing the things we enjoy, claiming to be too busy, or just forgetting how important these activities are to us.
To help you reclaim fun and creativity in your life, start by making a list of things you enjoyed doing as a child or young adult. Include in your list anything you can think of that makes you laugh, that brings you joy, and makes you smile.
Once you have a list, look for themes. Are you with people or alone? Are you outside or inside? Are you creating or deconstructing, contemplating or active, peaceful or pleasantly stressed?
Keep a log over the next few weeks of things that cause you to genuinely relax, smile, or to laugh. It is also important to pay attention to anything you might be engaging in that creates a false sense of fun. False fun is anything that appears fun at the moment but has negative consequences for which you later regret.
As adults we often settle for false fun like getting drunk, having affairs, gambling, or pornography, simply because it’s quick and easy. Unfortunately, false fun often increases our guilt and shame, and robs us of the opportunity to experience genuine joy, creativity and fun in life.
If you have difficulty getting in touch with your creative, fun side, you may find mindful meditation helpful in accessing that hidden side of you.
Jon Kabat Zinn is the founder of the mindful meditation movement and by clicking onto YouTube, you can find endless examples and free demonstrations which you can follow at your own pace.
Creativity doesn’t need to be defined only as art, music, movement or writing, since any gesture you make towards recovering your own inner voice will lead you in new directions.
Will it take effort? Of course, anything worthwhile does. We develop new skills and ideas and solutions by practicing.
See our Wellness Fact Sheets for additional practices that can open the doors of progress and healing for you.
Rob Ziegler, MA MPCP