Creativity has always been a topic I love reading about, so it’s really no surprise that I stumbled on this quote by Pablo Picasso: “Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”
What’s more surprising is that there’s research that proves this to be true – and it’s decades old.
Back in 1969, NASA commissioned Professor George Land to design a creativity test to help decide who to hire to work on the Moon Landing project. Understandably, NASA wanted only the most innovative thinkers – or “creative geniuses.”
The test was designed so that the subjects would look at a certain problem and come up with new, innovative, possible solutions.
Looking for clues to our creativity, the same test was administered to 1,600 5-year-olds – with the surprising result that 98% of the children scored at the “creative genius” level.
The same children were retested every five years, and the results were stunning. At age 10, only 30% scored at the “creative genius” level. By age 15, the score had dropped to 12%.
The same test was administered to 280,000 adults age 25+ with only 2% scoring as “creative geniuses.”
Our inner artist gets shut down as we enter the school system in which creative thinking is largely discouraged. What tends to get rewarded is memorizing facts and figures and regurgitating them on standardized tests.
I can recall hating tests that had me rely on memory work to fill in the blanks with the “correct” answer. However, I loved and excelled at creative writing because I was able to tap into my own imagination.
When we enter the work system, creative thinking is again discouraged in many workplaces. There is often a Policy and Procedures Manual that itemizes every scenario under the sun, with little room for deviation to satisfy individual situations. And, many bosses demand that you do things their way – or leave.
Study after study reveals that 70% of employees are unhappy with their jobs. At the same time, those in creative fields report being happy and fulfilled.
It’s worth noting that school dropouts have bucked the system. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson are well-known examples.
In that 1969 study, Professor Land identified two types of thinking processes:
Judging ideas, criticizing them, refining them, combining them, and improving on them constitutes convergent thinking. This happens during conscious thought.
On the other side is divergent thinking, where you imagine new, original ideas, which are different from what has come before, but which may be only rough ideas to begin with. These most often happen subconsciously. Divergent thinking happens in the dream state.
Land says schools try to teach children to use both kinds of thinking at the same time, which is impossible.
His advice is to “let your mind run free while you come up with ideas, and only afterwards to sit down, evaluate them, and start working on the ideas you think will work best.”
This is the essence of brainstorming – which is often encouraged during office meetings, until someone pipes up and says, “we can’t do that,” “that won’t work,” “we’ve never tried that before,” or some other killjoy response.
We now live in a time of chaos and unpredictable change. It’s essential for us to tap into innovative thinking. We need to encourage people to come up with a range of possibilities to create a new future to solve the problems we face.
As our world transitions into automation, and as we’re faced with an increasingly changing environment, we’ll need to rekindle our creative thinking.
A detailed study of the brain of Albert Einstein showed his creative genius stemmed from his highly connected brain.
A key to creativity is divergent thinking. You can enhance this through exercises such as brainstorming alternative ways to use common items like a paper clip, elastic band, wooden box, newspaper, paper bags, etc.
Creativity requires us to notice things that pass through our mind’s eye, which is another name for our subconscious mind. Creativity lives in our subconscious mind.
Meditation allows us to quiet our conscious mind, often termed the “monkey mind,” so we can access our more powerful subconscious mind. Meditation encourages mindfulness.
Meditation can help you clear your mind of clutter and distraction so you can be open to new ideas. You can use meditation as a key to unlock your own creativity.
Remember when the Beatles studied meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi? They said meditation was a high without drugs and the White Album emerged from this practice.
Walt Disney is one of the first people to adopt mindfulness into the business world. Google, Apple, and Nike also use meditation in the workplace – as a means to awaken creativity.
The ability to use our creativity is one of the greatest gifts about being human. Making art has been termed the “new meditation.”
Creating art is a form of meditation as long as we don’t worry about the outcome or the judgment of others. Art can be a channel to cope with overwhelming emotions.
Art therapy is used for its healing effect on depression, trauma, and illness. As a therapeutic practice, it encourages self-discovery. Art can also be used as a spiritual practice.
Creativity enables you to experience the world through child-like wonder and fuels passion, purpose, and meaning. Creating art can still the mind and help us tap into our deeper core while allowing for self-expression.
Expressing your creativity could change your life and our world. It’s not too late to start!
What would you consider a creative project? Are you working on one? Do you think of yourself as creative? Would you meditate or attend an art class to develop your creative potential? Why or why not? Join the conversation below!
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