From a young age, we’re either labeled creative or not creative. If we don’t show early signs of Picasso-esque genius during kindergarten art class, the paintbrush is taken away and we sit back and watch as other kids are praised as “creative.” We learn quickly that creativity just isn’t meant for us.
It’s true that we’re not all meant to be painters, singers, or writers, but the idea that a creative person has to be good with words, acrylics, or singing on key is a fallacy.
You, dear reader, are a creative. We’re all born creative—it just takes uncovering and owning our particular kind of creativity.
Redefining the Meaning of Creativity
Creativity can be anything that has meaning to you, which means there can be creativity in nearly everything you do—math, relationships, travel, customer service, even cleaning! If it has meaning to you—if it brings you joy, satisfaction, or a sense of accomplishment—it can be your special creative outlet.
Research shows that having a creative hobby can boost brain activity, help individuals cope with stress, and promote overall wellness and positivity. For those who have convinced themselves that they’re not creatives, these benefits might seem out of reach—but when you redefine the meaning of creativity, the possibilities become endless.
Creative thinking (aka being innovative) is the key that unlocks your inner artist.
Another misconception about creativity is that there has to be an end result that others can behold or admire, like a painting, novel, or song. For those creatives who will never pick up a paintbrush, throw clay, or strum an instrument, the joy of creativity can still be found in the process of creative thinking.
Creative thinking (aka being innovative) is the key that unlocks your inner artist. Creative thinking is the process of looking at a situation from a new perspective to come up with new, maybe unorthodox, solutions.
If you think about it, we use this type of creativity all the time. If your train breaks down and you need to get to work, you use creative thinking to piece together the lines that will get you to your destination. If the recipe calls for strawberries but you’re fresh out, you improvise and make a delicious blackberry rhubarb pie.
In order to consciously tap into this part of yourself in a meaningful, intentional way, you need to explore the things that bring you joy.
We’re all capable of these simple, everyday forms of innovation—so you’re already halfway to owning your creativity.
In order to consciously tap into this part of yourself in a meaningful, intentional way, you need to explore the things that bring you joy. It might take some work to undo the years of denying your inner creative—to quiet the voice that says, “Me, a creative? I don’t think so.” But when you identify that special something that you can pour your heart into, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of creative living.
For those whose creative outlet isn’t as obvious, here are three tips on how to discover and own your creativity:
1. Discover your creative outlet.
In order to own your creativity, you first need to discover your specific means of self-expression. Your creative medium might not yet be clear. It might be something that you glean over in your life, or something that you excel at but that you take for granted.
In order to pinpoint your unique creative outlet, try asking yourself these starter questions:
- What gives me meaning?
- What brings me joy?
- What environments or situations am I naturally drawn to?
- What makes me unique?
- What do my friends love about me?
- What do I daydream about?
Some of your answers might be cooking, gardening, being a great listener, having great hairstyles, making people smile, being a really organized person. Believe it or not, all of these things are creative endeavors. All it takes is first recognizing it’s your art and your form of expression.
2. Own your art.
Now that you know your creative outlet, it’s time to think of it as your masterpiece and of yourself as an artist. As an artist, it’s important to acknowledge the ways in which you excel at your craft.
Creativity becomes even more powerful when you think outside of the box and explore new ways to express your talent.
For example, you might realize that your version of creativity is being an attentive friend. That’s amazing. Now, ask yourself what a friendship with you looks like. What about your interaction with loved ones makes it an art? Your answers might be: I am trustworthy, I love cheering my friends up, I enjoy giving people advice, I enjoy thinking of ways to make my friends feel important.
Be proud of the unique attributes you bring to the table. Know they set you apart from other creatives and people doing the same thing.
3. Challenge yourself to think outside the box.
Once you’ve taken ownership of your creativity, the magic can begin. Creativity becomes even more powerful when you think outside of the box and explore new ways to express your talent. For example, if you feel creative when spending time in nature, how can you find new ways to experience this joy?
In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with images, videos, and soundbites of creative expression, it’s easy to diminish our own talents.
You could try painting one of your favorite pictures from a hike. Or, if you live in a city, you might take time during the weekend to uncover a hidden patch of greenery in your urban jungle. Maybe you can try planting some succulents so you can nurture your own bit of wildlife during the winter months. The possibilities are truly endless.
In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with images, videos, and soundbites of creative expression, it’s easy to diminish our own talents. Those people we see on movie screens or on our social media feeds are brilliant, but remember that you are, too.
When you give yourself permission to call yourself a creative—and believe it—a whole world of innovative thinking, self-expression, and joy will open up to you.
This post originally appeared on Shine, an app that helps you feel more positive & powerful every day.
Photo by Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com