How can we learn to be
more creative?

How Can We Learn To Be More Creative?


Before discussing the question, "Can creativity be learned?" let's address another query: "Is everyone creative, or are there only a select few who owns the gift of creativity?" When asked whether we are creative, a stream of thoughts courses through our minds, considering all the activities in our lives that could be considered creative. Often, the answer leans towards the negative because we doubt that our actions qualify as creative. "I don't play a musical instrument, can't paint, draw, sketch, or excel at crafts," we might think. “These are what I define as creative pursuits, and since I lack proficiency in these, I conclude that I am not creative.” Right? Wrong. These are merely self-limiting beliefs. We've been conditioned to adhere to a global definition of creativity, using it to shape our personal understanding. It's time to redefine what creativity means for us.

Now, returning to our original question of whether creativity can be learned. To answer this, we must first grasp the essence of creativity. Once we truly comprehend creativity's nature, it becomes easier to determine whether we can develop our creative capacities.

Creativity involves the act of producing something unique and valuable. Notice the two crucial words in this definition: unique and valuable. Let's delve into their meanings. Anything novel or distinctive can be categorized as creative. This extends beyond creating new things to embracing novel ways of performing tasks. Designing new furniture for your home, coming up with new ways to organize your wardrobe, or even altering your daily commute route all fall under the umbrella of creativity.

Shifting gears, let's focus on the utility of creative endeavours. Creativity yields outcomes that are not only novel but also impactful, enhancing our lives. Crafting new furniture increases home comfort. Rearranging your wardrobe makes it convenient to find clothes and offers a sense of satisfaction. Even switching your commute route, though seemingly insignificant, triggers curiosity and broadens your mindset. This might lead to a quicker commute or the discovery of charming coffee shops along the way. Thus, creativity's outcomes encompass not only tangible products but also experiences that contribute to our well-being.

Needless to say that creativity is not just an act of doing something, but it is about developing a mindset to approach the world differently and challenging the status quo. Creativity involves embracing novelty and openness. It could be as simple as experimenting a unique method to cook a recipe.

Returning to our core question and the purpose of this article—can creativity be learned? This is an ongoing debate with different perspectives but I strongly believe that creativity can be learned at any time in your life. The focus now shifts to how we can cultivate creativity and incorporate creative practices into our daily lives.

Here are some of the tips that have helped in my learning and practise of creativity:

Increase the Volume and Diversity of Information You Are Exposed to:

Our minds perpetually absorb information from diverse sources. We are exposed to an ever growing influx of content, providing a perfect opportunity to explore multiple domains and enrich our knowledge. Gaining expertise in any field is a stepping stone towards creativity. This doesn't imply that mastery in a specific domain is a prerequisite for creativity. Francesca Gino's TED talk underscores that excessive knowledge can lead to closed-mindedness and diminished performance.Nevertheless, foundational knowledge in a related field is crucial for nurturing creativity, so embrace your curiosity and seek out diverse information fearlessly.

Seek Out Diverse Experiences:

Diversifying your knowledge is the first step towards cultivating a creative mindset. The wealth of information, sparks curiosity and propels us towards a range of experiences. Whether trying to learn a new skill or crossing off your bucket list item for scuba diving, engage in it wholeheartedly. Regardless of the experiences, never do it for the purpose of achieving something out of it rather immerse yourself in it just for the thrill of it. The more information you consume, the more you will stay curious and more likely you are to foster and pursue your creativity. This accumulation of insights allows our minds to build new neural connections resulting in our divergent thinking abilities and fostering creativity. One of the few perfect examples of this path are the Wright brothers. The duo used their knowledge of mechanics and problem solving and their experience of running a bicycle repair shop, led them to connect the dots and apply that information into solving the mechanical challenges into building their first ever aircraft. Diversify and expose yourself to new experiences and knowledge to enhance your creative output.

Let Go of Preconceptions and Fear of Failure:

Fear of failure is one of the most prominent factors preventing us to expand ourselves in novel endeavours. This is something which has been ingrained into our human programming, preventing our personal growth and well-being. We are always fearful of taking new risks and worrying about the consequences that it might bring, afraid of others’ judgements if we don’t succeed and our own personal fears of abandoning what we started. These are just few of the reasons that intercepts us into expanding our mindset through new knowledge and observations. This contradicts creative behaviour. Creativity demands fearlessness, curiosity, and excitement. Start by letting go of your own judgements towards creativity and celebrate your bravery to take risks at every stage of your creative life.

Imagine the Impossible:

Speaking of fear, we are mostly held back by our own beliefs and pre-programmed perceptions of the ways of the world. We are so used to of the patterns of self rejection due to the limitations that our minds have created for ourselves on how certain things should be performed in a pre defined way. Let’s break it down, this is what happens in our mind when we think of something that has never been done before. The initial spark gets you excited and you are motivated to start acting on it. Now enters the negative mind chatter; “the idea is great but it is really impossible and sounds like a really challenging undertaking”. The negative chatter makes it so overwhelming that we quit even before starting. The right course of action here is to imagine the impossible but rather than thinking about the final output, put your focus on just taking the next step on the road to achieving the output you desire.

Creativity is Work:

Creativity is not just imagining the impossible, this is just one small aspect of it. The process of creativity requires constant efforts into making that dream a reality. Translating creative concepts into tangible outputs requires focus, dedication and a strong work ethic to make anything you dream of. Maya Angelou, the acclaimed poet and author believed that creativity requires effort. She once said, "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." She emphasized the importance of consistently working on one's creative pursuits to nurture and develop them. Another great example is of Da Vinci who was not only a brilliant painter but also an accomplished scientist and inventor. He left behind countless notebooks filled with sketches, observations, and ideas. His famous quote, "Art is never finished, only abandoned," reflects his dedication to refining his work. The journey of creativity begins with a single inspiration and the bulk of achievements is determined through hard work, practice, and a commitment to honing your skills over time.

The question remains: "Can creativity be learned?" While debate persists, I firmly believe that creativity is ever present from the day we are born till we die and it just gets lost in the way because of how we decide to structure our lives. Creativity is to be constantly practised and nurtured, it needs to be acted upon with enthusiasm and dedication and most of all, we need to welcome and feel proud of all our experiences to inspire our minds and lives with endless possibilities. I will end with a beautiful quote of Sadhguru which, for me, sums up what creative life looks like:

The value of your life is only in these two things; profoundness of your experiences and Impactfulness of your activity.

Always cherish your life experiences and the impacts it can create for you and others around you.