A mother and her young daughter were once driving up a quiet mountain pass when they came upon a traffic jam. As they rounded a corner, they could see that a large truck could not fit under the short tunnel up ahead. The truck could not reverse back down the winding pass, nor could it move forward into the tunnel. It was just a tiny bit too tall, and it was stuck.
The mother groaned in frustration, whilst her daughter lit up with wonder at the scene in front of them. There were police, fire trucks, a crane, lots of flashing lights, and uniformed people. “Please can we go see, mummy!” she cried. “Oh alright,” the mother replied. We aren’t going anywhere quickly.” The child raced towards the scene, with her mother tramping behind her, worrying about being stuck up there all day.
After getting a closer a look at the truck, the mother and daughter went to talk to a fireman. “What are you going to do?’ asked the mother. The fireman replied, “We’re going to use this crane to lift the truck over the tunnel. It’s a short tunnel, but a very heavy truck. We hope that the crane will manage.” He let out a despairing sigh. The little girl piped up: “But why don’t you just let the air out of the tyres?”
This story may have its roots in reality but it has become somewhat of an urban legend. In the story, the tires of the truck are let down and it is able to pass easily and quickly under the tunnel. The child saves the day with her creative thinking! This story illustrates the power of creative thinking and, in particular, how children often see things much more simply and creatively than adults.
Children are by nature, more creative than adults. If you feel that you are not as creative as when you were young, don’t worry. You are not alone! Studies show that as we get older, discipline, the pressures of life, fears and societal norms tend to make us ask fewer questions, laugh less and become overall less creative than we were as young children.
This graph shows the findings of research into how creativity declines with age (before growing again at retirement.)
Note that this does not have to the case for you! You can buck this trend by being intentional and deliberate in developing your creativity.
Our home life is a starting point for applying our creativity. Here are three ways you can be more creative at home.
It’s easy to take ourselves too seriously. A merry heart is good medicine for our souls. Laughter and fun promote creativity and a sense of humour encourages us to think outside the box.
Humour relaxes us and we are more inspired when we are relaxed. Laughing helps to control brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, similar to what antidepressants do. There is a liberating and energising power in humour which makes us less likely to listen to the dissenting voice of our inner critic and more likely to take a creative leap.
Using humour teaches us to take sudden shifts in perspective or thinking patterns. This helps us to see problems from different points of view and think more laterally and creatively. Humour is a stress-buster. When stress hormones like such as adrenaline and cortisone inhibit creative thinking, humour can balance these out with dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin which in turn help us to make associations, see possibility and think creatively.
Children in particular need fun and humour around them. Do you feel you could lighten up a little? What could you do to add more humour to your home life? Check out this blog for some ideas. It's funny how humour boosts creativity.
We can tend to get a monotonous in the way we relate to one another. The photograph below shows an example of a family that got creative with relationships during the first Covid lockdown when they had to isolate in their home and were not able to see their grandmother. This family found a way for their grandmother to hug her grandchildren. They hung a big plastic sheet with plastic gloves at the right height for her to give her grandkids a hug safely.
Think about how you can relate creatively to your friends and family. Try something different. If you always WhatsApp a friend, try giving them a call. If you always call, try write them a letter. If you always relax with friends over a barbecue, try a games night. There are lots of different ways we can show love to those around us. Mix it up, stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone. It will help to deepen and enrich your relationships.
Exercise some creative courage by creating something beautiful or useful in your home environment. Research has shown that our environment does not, on its own, make us more creative; however, it can spark joy and lighten our mood. Doing a creative project at home is also good practice for our creative thinking and creative confidence.
Many people misunderstand creativity and think it’s just about being in your head. It's actually about taking something in your imagination and in making it real. This aim of this home project is not to become Mr or Mrs DIY, but to practice using your imagination to conceive ideas and bring them into the world in a safe space. This creates new neural pathways in your brain and develops new creative habits. I urge you to step out of your comfort zone.
If you're comfortable with gardening, what about trying some DIY and make yourself some storage shelves? If you're comfortable cooking but never bake, maybe try some baking. Add some colour, something unexpected or a quirky object or two to the area. Put up some cartoon strips on the wall next to your desk, or a meme, or sayings which make you smile where you can see them regularly. Something that I want to do is to get over my fear is to paint a mural or to use a paint effect on a feature wall in my home. Instead of creating something new, you might try reorganising your space.
Take a fresh look at your environment. What creative ideas to you have to declutter, tidy or reorganise?
Do any of these ideas tickle your fancy?
Your home is a safe cocoon where you can experiment and build your creative confidence before you step out into the world. Remember:
"Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can."
- Arthur Ashe
If you you want your creativity to soar, we invite you take our 5 Day Creative Wake-Up. In this online mini-course, you'll get:
Gear up for a future that requires new solutions.
Find our more here.
What people are saying:
"Thank you so much for the course - I thoroughly enjoyed it especially the variety of things to do and read. It was all provided with such a great balance of light-heartedness with serious purpose, and head with heart. You really gave me what you had promised - a wake-up of my own creativity, ignored and dormant for a long time. "Creativity" has entered my headspace and I am loving this different way of seeing things. There is lots of joy in all this too!"
SHIRLEY DU PLESSIS
Holistic life coach
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