I came across an interesting article on Medium that had a list of things creative people do. You can read the full article here. Here is the list of the 18 things that all creative people do:
- Observe everything.
- Work the hours that work for them.
- Take time for solitude.
- Turn life’s obstacles around.
- Seek out new experiences.
- “Fail up.”
- Ask the big questions.
- Take risks.
- View all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.
- Follow their true passions.
- Get out of their own heads.
- Lose track of the time.
- Surround themselves with beauty.
- Connect the dots.
- Cnstantly shake things up.
- Make time for mindfulness.
I enjoyed this list. I don’t think any of these are super surprising, but it is nice to have them compiled. They are a great reminder of traits to cultivate within ourselves.
There was one thing that stood out for me. A thread that runs through this, and it’s an aspect of creativity that I have only been aware of at a low level, but this list pushed it into my consciousness.
Creativity is about connection.
I mean on a deeper level than just bringing two ideas together and making a connection although that is certainly one very important aspect of creativity.
Nearly all these items are about connecting, with oneself, with nature, with the world, and of course with ideas.
Connection and love are one of our primary human needs, and creative work fills many others, but this need stands out because creativity connects us so deeply with ourselves and others.
Connecting the self
Have you ever been in the state of flow? It’s that ideal state where time loses meaning, the body and its problems disappear. The only emotion is expressed through the work. It’s a true and deep connection with self. Problems in the work appear, you reach in and solve them with what you know, or a new idea presents itself, an alternate solution. You are putting yourself into your work and your true expression flows out. Many people describe flow as a feeling of bliss.
There are many positives that come from this sense of connection to our inner self. It makes us feel good and that reinforces creative behavior. So think of it as a little win for your mental health to get into the flow state and try to do it often!
As mentioned above, creativity meets other needs, our desire to feel unique, to be able to learn and grow, to contribute something. This is why creative work is so important in our lives. But connection is still the star. The chance to express ourselves makes connecting with self most important, and anytime we can fill our needs through on our own, we are empowered.
Creativity is self-empowerment. And think, the more you have, the more you are able to grow it, the greater change you are able to make on the physical world (or the digital!), as well as your internal world. The more confidence you have in your abilities and this inspires others.
Beyond flow, other activities from the list that foster a connection with self include daydreaming, meditation and solitude, taking opportunities for self-expression, following passions, turning obstacles around and failing up.
Some of them may seems a stretch, but if you consider that many things a creative person deals with are the psychology of handing failures, fears and challenges, you know there is a mental game going on that requires us to have a good sense of self to overcome these.
Value the connection with yourself. It’s the heart of creative expression.
Connecting with the outer world
Sharing creative work is a great way to connect with others and offer and receive new inspiration, and this is terrific, but creativity offers a another type of connection with the rest of the world too.
Creativity allows us to connect ourselves directly to the world and other people. We dream of our interaction in the world, we watch how others behave, we observe, we find beauty, we learn and absorb. These all serve as connection points with the inner and outer worlds.
If you remember Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk, she spoke of creativity not as something from within, but as a force outside the self. The ancient Greeks had their muses that gave them ideas, and others mentioned creativity as something from the outside that moves within them. You may not ascribe to this perspective, but even so, creativity is a connection to the outer world. The ideas you have are influenced by the world you live in.
We need this connection to draw on. We bring external ideas and experiences inside and mix them around and come up with a new interpretation or perspective or idea that unites it all.
Our connection to the world makes creative thinking possible. We need the constant influx of the new and novel to work into creative thought. And we certainly need others to give us constructive criticism to help us refine and hone our skills.
Connecting it all
So when you think of creativity, remember that it’s all connections. The better you can see these relationships, the more ideas you can have.
The world both inside and outside, is waiting for you to notice it and bring it together. Internalize it and make it a part of you through your own unique expression.