The Joy of Being Fully Creative


Years ago I heard Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney give a lecture at the University of Washington. In the middle of this very academic speech, he paused, threw up both his hands and said, “just write for the joy of it” and then dipped back into the lecture. I don’t remember anything else from the talk but Heaney’s sudden burst of inspiration stayed with me because I think it really captured an essential element to being creative.

Whether you are cooking a great meal, growing a beautiful garden, writing a poem or singing in the community choir, you likely feel a deep sense of satisfaction and a joyfulness that comes with being creative. Creativity draws on the best of human nature: perception, imagination, intellect, inspiration, courage, intuition, and empathy. The urge to create asks us to bask in the experience of the world, to see, feel, taste, hear, and smell the magnificence around us. It allows us to celebrate, with the spirit of gratefulness for every aspect of our lives, the beauty and complexity the world offers. It can help us make meaning from our sufferings.

Being creative also breaks us free from our ruts and habits allowing us to look at the world anew. We are able to tell a story that touches others, envision a unique way of solving a problem or offer counsel with fresh clarity, even if we have struggled with the same material or ideas a hundred times before. Embracing our creativity allows us to tap a deeper more insightful way of knowing that expands beyond our conscious mind.

I think being creative feels so good because it connects us to divine imagination and when we actively participate in developing and fulfilling our gifts it feels like a mystical experience. We intuit that we are connected to something larger than ourselves which is perhaps the greatest gift that comes from following our creative urges. Early in my work as a writer when I became aware that I was writing from an inspired sense of flow, I would get this urge to look around the room to see where is was coming from because I sensed it was exactly coming from me. Now I am just always deeply grateful when I tap fully into that vein and welcome it with a sense of grace.

In looking for your own ways of being creative you can start by celebrating your uniqueness. There never was, nor ever will be, anyone exactly like you. In exploring your uniqueness there is often a central preoccupation, an interest or passion that runs through your life? There can also be more than one. If you can’t name it right now, think of something that you are fascinated by again and again. The possibilities are infinite, reaching from needlework to rock climbing, from bird watching to playing the piano, from English country dancing to writing haiku, from gardening to giving foot massages. Look for what brings you joy and then begin taking actions to embrace your creativity and enjoy the process.

Did School Kill Your Creativity?

I believe this passionately: that we don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it. - Ken Robinson

The most watched TED talk ever with 54 million views is by acclaimed educator and visionary Sir Ken Robinson. It is titled Does school kill creativity? Schools teach us that it's not okay to think outside the box or draw outside the lines. From an early age we are taught to conform to a set norm which offers little room for being creative.

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Long after we leave school we continue to repress our creative self. We have often decided that we just aren't creative. Robinson insists that when people tell him they aren't creative he assumes that they don't understand what is involved. Creativity is actually a process that can be learned. New advancements in neuroscience have shown that it's not a matter of right brain/left brain but rather that different networks of brain regions are enlisted during different stage of creativity. We all have the capacity to access these parts of our brain.

In the past several years top CEOs and educators around the world are insisting that creativity is the top trait needed to do well in the twenty first century. Creativity has so much to add to our lives. It gives us a deeper understand of ourselves and the world around us. It can improve our performance at work and our pleasure in our daily life.

In working as a creativity coach where I essentially act as a midwife to help others reawaken and reclaim the creativity that is their natural birthright, I have found that it is always alive and well just below the surface waiting for a bit of encouragement and nurturing to come forth.

To begin to do this for yourself, stop telling yourself that you are not creative and start looking for all the ways you already engage your creative capacities. Any time you come up with a solution to a problem you are being creative. Since creativity has a strong subconscious element, exercising our intuition, intention and focus as well as an awareness of those flashes of inspiration are key element in building our creative muscles and experiencing how the process works.

To nurture your creativity play with it. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised. Have fun. Resist the urge to take it seriously or feel you have to do it right or perfectly. The only way to be creative is to try something and see what works and what doesn't, then play with it some more.