I have been writing other things recently, important other things. All the things I have been writing revolve around the topic of creativity. I have been a student of creativity ever since I first discovered its power to save me. The more I poured myself into doing things, not just art things, creatively, the more I liked who I was becoming. The less I worried about what was expected, the happier I became with what I could do when I left myself to my own devices.
For the last month and a half, I have been reading up on what other people have written about creativity, and while the topic has been examined from academic and professional perspectives, the one thing I have noticed that is not mentioned is the emotional content, the very meat of what makes creativity such an important element in any society.
WHAT WE ARE TAUGHT
We are taught to suppress our feelings. Creativity is the act of expressing them. It does not have to be a drawing or a sculpture, it can be anything, from the way you dress to the way you take a bath. Once you make something your own, you have been creative. The problem is, we are all taught to keep our feelings to ourselves. We are taught that any expression of emotion is a weakness. We are taught that it is a sign of strength to keep a stiff upper lip. But emotions are powerful tools that tell us who we are, what we fear, and what we can do to more meaningfully engage with the world and the people in it.
We are taught to conform to a standard or norm. There have been many times in my life when I have been pressured into doing something I didn't really want to do; whether it be change my hair, shave my toes, or dress in a way that didn't suit me, I, just like everyone else on the planet, have been taught to conform through advertising, the educational system, friends, relatives, partners, and anyone else who might want to throw in their two cents. Conforming is always rewarded, and diverging from the norm is at best questioned, and at worst, punished. Women must look a certain way to be considered beautiful, and beautiful is the standard by which women are judged. Men must look and behave a certain way in order to be considered masculine, or strong, which is the standard by which men are judged. Creativity, intelligence, empathy, these characteristics are secondary to looks and power.
We are taught that we are not creative. We are taught all through school that if you aren't good at art, you aren't creative. It's a way to keep people from questioning the norm. It is a way to control a populace full of people of different genders, races, religions and political parties. It's a way to keep people from discovering and using their power. Because the truth is, we are born creative.
George Land's NASA creativity test proved that people are born creative over and over again. His study showed that as children progress through school, the educational system trains them out of their creativity, that basically, creativity is un-learned.
- At five years old, 98% of the 1600 children tested, tested as creative geniuses
- At ten years old, 30% of the 1600 children tested as creative geniuses
- At fifteen years old, 12 % of the 1600 children tested as creative geniuses
- Out of 280,000 adults, only 2% tested at the creative genius level
This test has been given many times with similar results each time. This test, originally created to select highly creative engineers and scientists for NASA, has proven over and over that the educational system in this country is actually dumbing down the populace and has now put us in a place which many say is a creativity crisis in the US and abroad.
I realize this is not what I usually write about. I usually write about my emotional journey through my life; what I learn from the mistakes I make, the fears I have, and the people with who I interact. This in itself has pushed me to explore the idea of creativity and why so many people are afraid to take risks, put themselves into their lives in a meaningful way, and allow themselves to express what they think and feel about themselves and the world. I believe that if more people accept the fact that they are creative and become curious about how to express that, the world will shift in such a way that many of the social issues we face today will be lessened if not completely resolved.
I have been reading a lot of books that tell people how to be more creative, a lot of complicated steps that will teach people to be more creative at work. But the thing that all this misses is that creativity is an expression of what is inside, and if we keep suppressing our emotions, if we stop ourselves from expressing who we are in favor of conformity, nothing will change.
In short, behavioral creativity is the extent to which people diverge meaningfully from the norm, it is the way an individual expresses themselves in the things they do every day in every aspect of their life that makes a meaningful impact on the level of satisfaction and joy they derive from that activity. For instance, The American Dream is something that US citizens and people all over the world have been sold on for a long time, so many people believed that going to college, getting married, and having kids was THE WAY to live a life. The problem is, during this life, many people who bought into it felt empty, had mid-life crises, and lacked the satisfaction with their lives that they expected to obtain by living something everyone believed to be a DREAM.
It is not to say that this life is not good for some people, but for many, it is no way to live a life, and surely no way to fully develop into the person they could be if they were not putting so much energy into being someone they do not truly feel themselves to be.
Make sense? No? Then just do this. Consider for a moment what you would do if you believed yourself to be a creative genius. Consider if your life and the things you do would alter at all if you did not believe the lie that you have been taught about yourself. Consider who you could become if you were not afraid of standing out, speaking up, or simply, not participating.
Now....get started. Express yourself. Experiment with your day. See what happens when you follow your heart, when you do the work of taking a risk for who you really want to be.
Below you will find an entire gallery of images of things I have done and created in order to meaningfully engage with the world and express my point of view. Take a look and see what you think. Leave a comment if you would like.