How many times have you found yourself stuck in a rut, unable to move forward in your day and get stuff done, whether the stuff is work, finishing a personal project, or even just putting together a semblance of an outfit? The frustration in not finding inspiration at the right time often leaves us feeling like we’re running out of that innate spark we call creativity. And let’s face it – creativity is at the core of almost everything we do!
Fortunately, there exists no limited reservoir of creativity in us. The supply is oh-so-endless; we only need to tap into it. As adults, we like to take a more logic-driven approach to tapping into creativity. Often, this approach is calculated and limited – by others’ perceptions of us and our decisions, and our fear of making mistakes. Of course, these are valid fears, but they end up hampering our creativity to an extent that we’re left with little room to come up with new ideas, explore different ways of doing things, and enjoy the process. The joy of creativity slowly fizzles out, like bubbles from an open bottle of cola. And no one really likes fizz-free cola.
So, how do we bring back that spark? How do we find joy in our work and infuse enthusiasm in our projects, big or small?
We do it, as a child would!
You read that right – it’s time to go back in time and remember how we were as kids (ignoring the times when we just couldn’t wait to grow up!). Free-spirited, open to new experiences, no fear of judgement or making mistakes – we just ran with the first idea that sprang in our minds, and ended up with something great and mostly, not-so-great. No matter the outcome, our uninhibition fed our creativity, which fueled our ability to act on our wildest ideas, which again, fed our creativity. It was an endless cycle of pure joy and unimaginable outcomes!
Wouldn’t it be great to bring back that sheer joy to the things we do today, no matter how mundane they seem? We hear you, not everything can be done with a cheery smile or a boatload of enthusiasm. Still, when we’re down and out about our lack of creativity, it’s time we step into the shoes of our seven-year-old selves and make our own rules, which we will also break; we’re allowed to!
Here are some simple ways to add child-like wonder to the little things we do every day, and to the larger, more important tasks for which we really need that boost of creativity.
Play is as important today as it was during our childhood. Children are encouraged to play for a variety of reasons – from developing physiologically and psychologically to cognitively. So, why did we ever stop playing?
“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.” – Albert Einstein
Infuse play in your everyday rituals – it needn’t be an elaborate game. Treat each challenge as a hurdle in an obstacle course and reward yourself when you cross it.
Play is also about movement. We’re not made to sit in one place for eight hours a day. The more we move, the more we stimulate our bodies and minds and get those creative juices flowing. Add a game-night to your week or take up a sport. Better yet, play a simple game of catch or police-robber!
You needn’t be good at what you play; as kids, we didn’t play only because we were good at something. We played because it was fun!
2. Make mistakes
We learn best when we make mistakes. As kids, we’d make plenty of mistakes and learn ways to avoid repeating them. As we grow and assume the many responsibilities of adulthood, we give ourselves little-to-no room to be wrong and make mistakes, putting a stop to our learning.
“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake – you can’t learn anything from being perfect.” – Adam Osborne
How do we make mistakes when there’s a lot at stake? Of course, we wouldn’t encourage you to send a business email to the wrong person on purpose or to drive on the wrong side of the road intentionally. Make purposeful mistakes that teach you that it’s okay to stumble and fall, as long as you eventually get up and move ahead. Try using sketchbooks and coloring outside the lines, mixing-and-matching outfits in bizarre ways just so that you can have a laugh, writing a poem or a story from scratch that’s awful, or singing your favorite song completely out of tune. The outcome doesn’t matter; what matters is the joy of being unaffected by judgement and the fun you have in letting go.
3. Dance like no one is watching
When we were younger, we would flail our limbs in every direction at the sound of our favorite tunes, with no care as to how poorly coordinated our moves were. Dance was a way for us to express ourselves, whether we were graceful or not. So, why not bring back the simple pleasure of dance into our daily lives, and rediscover in amazement what it does to our creative thinking?
Put on your most comfortable clothes, play the funkiest song you know, and just dance. If you’re shy and feeling inhibited, try closing your eyes and paying attention to the music. Let your arms move in all directions, your feet tap with or against the beat. Revisit what it’s like to let movement take over, as you push hear the voice of your inner critic getting feebler with each step you take.
Adulthood is tough, and often, the seriousness of it clogs our creativity. Re-learning to think and act like a seven-year-old helps us break free from the shackles of perceptions and judgement and enables our minds to experiment in ways can surprise us. Our recommendation? Learn to play, make mistakes and dance like a child, and for a few moments, unlearn how to be an adult.