My teenage daughter, who is interested in psychology and preparing for college, asked me recently: “Mom, what is the one thing that you can’t live without?” I immediately thought, love. And I think that is probably true. I feel that I have the best chance to live a successful and fulfilling life if I am in a committed, loving relationship and have loving people and pets around me.
I shared my thoughts with her. She responded, “That’s great, Mom. You have love, so now what? What is the most important thing? What do you most want to do with your days and with your life?”
It got me thinking about how I best like to spend my days and the kind of work I do. I am happiest when I feel challenged and creative. If I had a mundane job doing the same thing eight hours a day to get a paycheck, I wouldn’t be happy. Creativity is the drive and energy behind my best-spent days and most successful endeavors. I am at my best when I have a new idea and am “cooking,” whether my fingers are tapping happily at the keyboard or I am literally cooking away in the kitchen.
Creativity. What is it? I like the simple definition from Cambridge Dictionary: “the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas.”
How to be more creative
We need to make an effort to incorporate and nurture creativity daily. Because it can help you be successful. Think of innovators such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci; they accomplished great things with their lives and, in doing so, affected the lives of people all over the world. What sets these high achievers apart from the rest of us? Two traits they share are a willingness to take risks and to think differently—and in order to be an innovative thinker, one must use imagination and nurture creativity.
What can you do to unleash and tap into the creativity within yourself? Here are six ideas:
1. Keep a journal.
Something about writing frees us to express ourselves and come up with new ideas. Just write, don’t edit your work or worry about what you are writing about or how good your words look on the page. If you need some suggestions, write a word or phrase such as “purpose” or “my strengths.” Then begin.
2. Draw to be more creative.
Whether or not you think you can draw doesn’t matter. Get a sketch pad and a variety of writing tools, such as colored pencils, markers, charcoal, pastels or crayons. Like your journaling, it’s not important what or how you draw so much as that you just do it. For some great ideas, I highly recommend Michael Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Toward the end of the book, Gelb has a wonderful section, “The Beginner’s Da Vinci Drawing Course.” This will help get you started. We all can draw—the purpose of it is discovery.
3. Spend time outside.
Try taking your journal and sketch pads outdoors. Exposing yourself to fresh air and the sounds of wildlife while enjoying the benefits of vitamin D from sunlight may help you feel your best. When I have writer’s block, all I need to do is take my laptop outside to my beautiful back patio, and all of a sudden my brain is flowing with new energy and ideas.
4. Get moving to be more creative.
Taking a walk or engaging in other forms of aerobic exercise may help renew your body and mind. It’s hard to feel creative when you’re sitting at a desk all day. As soon as I get out and take a short walk, I feel better. Exciting and new ideas surface and then I can’t wait to return to my computer to write them all down.
5. Remember to play.
Just because we are all grown up doesn’t mean that we don’t need to play. In his co-authored book Play, Stuart Brown, M.D., founder of The National Institute for Play, writes, “I sometimes compare play to oxygen—it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.”
By nurturing our playful sides, we feel more joyful and creative. Try these ideas to start playing again: Set an intention to play more; keep fun things accessible (such as puzzles, coloring books, Play-Doh, a hula hoop, etc.); try a new fitness class at the gym or an art class in your community; or get goofy and horse around with the kids, grandkids, neighbors’ kids or pets.
6. Be more creative by being a lifelong learner.
Never stop questioning things, be a voracious reader, watch TED Talks, attend lectures, take courses and listen to podcasts. As long as we are learning, we are growing. Being curious and gaining knowledge may help us prosper and succeed in life. Tony Robbins calls it “CANI,” or “constant and never-ending improvement.”
This article was updated July 2023. Photo by PeopleImages.com – Yuri A/Shutterstock
Debra DiPietro is a mom, writer, social media specialist and resident of sunny Florida. She has a health and wellness blog, The Warm Milk Journal, that supports anybody who wishes to live the life of their dreams by day and sleep restfully at night. When she is not working or writing, you can find Debra walking on the beach, sweating it out at the local Bikram Yoga studio or dreaming up her next chapter…