Cultivating Creative Traits

by Nina Meehan

I recently was asked, “How can I improve creativity in my life if I’m not an artist.” I was delighted by this question because the reality is that most of the time when we are asked to employ our creative minds, it is not in the mode of creating traditional art. There are a few among us who make their livings doing art professionally and a decent number of folks who regularly engage in hobbies that involve art, but all of us solve problems, all of us have to think of new solutions, all of us have to invent new pathways to get to an endpoint. So, how do we strengthen that portion of our creative minds?  

There are a number of traits that are associated with creative personalities and we can choose to grow and strengthen these parts of ourselves and our children. A few of these traits are: Curiosity, Openness, Playfulness

If you are looking to grow your curiosity, start with the people you see every day. Pretend you are a journalist and start asking questions. Learn about where they came from, what they enjoyed doing in their childhood, what their favorite movie is and why. See if you can get beneath the surface level questions quickly. We can all ask, “What do you do for a living?” but it takes a truly curious person to ask, “Which of your teachers in high school inspired you to be the person you are today?”

Openness is a trait all about accepting that there are multiple options to any potential question or problem. The open person practices divergent thinking, rather than convergent thinking, assuming that the list of solutions is always longer than they can even imagine. To practice openness, think of one thing that you are convinced only has one answer and ask yourself how it is possible that there is a different answer. How is it possible that 1+1 does not in fact, equal 2?

You were playful when you were a child. Almost every kid is because that’s how children learn about the world around them. So, if you want to get in touch with your playful one, take some time to really watch your own children, if you have kids under the age of 9. See how they play. Remember your own childhood and ask yourself how you played? Try bringing a tiny bit of play back into your life, even if it’s babysteps, like making a smiley face out of your pees at dinner. Find your play, to find your creative!

The more you practice curiosity, openness and playfulness, the easier all three will start to feel and the more you are wiring your mind for creative thoughts.