It was a mixed up kind of day. Grey clouds engulfing the sun only to have the sun burn through, lighting the woods in snips and patches.
I could see my daughter’s bright blue coat flitting between the just leafing out trees. Hunting a critter, building a fort, or some such childhood imagining. The neighbor kid voices rose and fell in excitement until half blue with cold they all stumbled through my door in search of water, a snack, and an ear to listen to their adventures.
It had been a rough day. I was running into an issue with my editorial work. And then running into it again. And then again…Those days everyone has sometimes.
As I listened to my kids’ chatter, it reminded me of the times when the hill behind my childhood house was a mountain and the squirrels were bears chasing my brothers and I. Or when we were lost in the “expansive” woods, and horsetail reeds became scavenged salads—definite survival food.
I miss those times. Times when imagination bled into real life. Where anything could be imagined better. And I realized there’s something to a childlike perspective that we, as adults, need to rediscover.
Not that we can to ignore problems. Dealing with issues is what makes adulting hard and necessary, but maybe there’s a way to see through the troubles. To use our yearning for childlike things to see the hope on the other side.
Maybe there are childlike solutions to adult-sized problems.Tweet This
For me I think that’s why writing spills out of me. There’s something inside that wants to imagine the darkness away or at least find a way to understand it.
But it isn’t just writers or other “artists” that find relief in harnessing the inner creative child. We all need to find our creative spirit. To play in our minds and find a way through. Did you cringe when you read that? Did you think, “Easy for you to say. I’m not creative”!?
1. Understand Your Strengths: We’re all creative.
This fact is something that kids know instinctively. They make forts, strategize ways through a basketball court, build Minecraft worlds, imagine games, and create stories with abandon. Our creativity is something our adult-sized world has simply eaten for lunch. So today, you are going to recapture that essence.
Repeat after me: “I, [your name here], am creative.”
You are. That doesn’t mean you or I are the next Monet or Shakespeare. In fact, I can pretty much promise that you aren’t. And being creative doesn’t even mean you’re an artist.
It just means we are all capable of creating something. Have you ever made spreadsheet, a meal, a comfortable home, a working budget? Have you figured out how to explain a math problem to your child or get the dog to stop barking at the neighbor? You, my friend, have had a creative moment. Look at that.
2. Creativity just takes practice.
Momma always said, practice makes perfect. And you always obey your Momma (Right?). So try it out with me.
Have a problem? Run into a wall the size of that famous one in China? Practice brainstorming ideas for how to get around, over, or under it. No idea is too small, too big, too silly, or too anything. Just write them all down. You’ll be surprised where you end up.
If you have kids, brainstorm with them. They’re masters at it. Yes, you might get poop jokes in response to how to keep the bathroom more clean. But hey, you’ll laugh and forget about the issue for a minute.
3. Take advantage of peak creative times.
One of the mantras at my house is boredom is the mother of all invention. And it’s true. My kids have come up with their best ideas when they’re laying around half-awake, bored out of their gourds.
The crazy thing is, science backs this idea up. Scientists say the best time to be creative is when your brain is in neutral (a perfect combination of Theta and Alpha brain waves). Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci, and Mendelov (he of Periodic Table fame) all credit a “dreamy” state for their creativity. They worked out insane ways to keep themselves in a constant state of just waking up. I wouldn’t recommend their particular brand of torture though. I like my sleep too much.
But I think one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to keep a pad of paper near my bed, toilet, and shower (Forgive me the TMI. I promise you’ll get over it.). I also use the voice recorder on my phone when I’m driving.
Now when I’m drifting off to sleep, driving carpool, or scrubbing my hair, I let my brain go into neutral and have a pen and paper nearby to capture all the great ideas that pop up. It sounds crazy, but it really does work.
4. Remember the good stuff.
For you, maybe it’s watching your child sleep. Or maybe it’s celebrating the completeness of a spreadsheet (heaven’s knows someone needs to!). Or laughing at crazy cartoons, planting a perfect row of beans, finishing a task, checking off that list, or talking to a friend. There’s something out there that moves you. No matter what it is that helps you see the good stuff.
You are what you think. So think good stuff.Tweet This
Research shows that taking regular breaks helps workers be more productive. There’s a reason there are laws requiring employers to give employees vacations and periodic breaks throughout the day. Even God himself took a break. Pretty sure that means they’re necessary.
So go take a romp in the woods, or a nap, or play Sudoku.
Be a kid for a second, you might just see your way through your adult-sized problems.Tweet This