We may have been told over our lifetime that creativity is for the few greats like Beethoven, Monet, or the likes. Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman told TIME in an interview that creativity is a state of mind—-an attitude you can bring to any task or project. I want to add that we are made in the image of the Greatest Creator ever. Kaufman talks of seeing everything fresh and new that you may have seen hundreds of times before. My favorite poet is Mary Oliver, and her creativity helps me see everyday things like lying in a field and looking at the sky in ways I have never thought of before. I’ve wanted to drop everything I was doing and lay in an area and experience life as she described in her poem. I would worry about getting back up later.
Here are the seven steps Dr. Kaufman suggests for developing creativity:
- Don’t force creativity. Focusing on goal-driven creativity may backfire. Waking up in the morning and forcing creativity when you don’t feel inspired may cripple your desire even to start your project. Bob Ross often says as he teaches his method of painting, “Listen to your heart. Let your heart guide your thinking and your paintbrush.”
- No matter our age, we look at life with a bias. Understand your personal preference, notice what your intuition is saying when you experience something new. Consider the various outlets to express it. Painting a certain way may not be your outlet, but study the variety of art forms. Music or poetry may be closer to your soul expression or maybe watercolor over acrylics or photography over wood-working. Be willing to grow.
- 3. IQ tests are acceptable, but they do not measure the whole person. Frank X. Barron, a psychologist in the 1960’s, broke away from the longtime assumption that intelligence was the essential trait of highly creative people. He adds, “Intelligence solely comprises cognitive information processing like we’re robots.” Intelligence may hinder creativity because intelligence is more broadly an adaptation to our environment, and creativity gives us the freedom to adapt and appreciate any environment.
- Be open to new experiences. Rediscover yourself. Create a place to discover who you have become after retirement and having raised a family etc. Try to see things as they truly are now and be curious about everything. Try visiting the world through your grandchildren’s eyes. Be curious!
- Embrace opposing forces. Melding two seemingly contradictory ideas may lead to more significant innovation. Learn to trust and have faith in your intuition, but at the same time be rational. Stay true to your values in challenging environments but be willing to grow in your understanding of distressing experiences.
- Let your mind wander. Mind-wandering is not the opposite of good thinking. It is actually conducive to “good thinking.”
- Meditation and mindfulness. Such practices can bring a measure of focus to your daydreaming or mind-wandering. Use meditation to plumb the depths of your inner world. Hopefully, you have lost your former bias by now as you explored the depths of who you have become in step 4 and freed yourself to see your world with curiosity.
Too many of us have not had the time before retirement to express our creativeness, and some of us have thought we are not creative. Today we can start with these seven steps to open our minds and hearts to new adventures.A