Marx, Darwin and Freud are the three most crashing bores of the Western World. Simplistic popularization of their ideas has thrust our world into a mental straitjacket from which we can only escape by the most anarchic violence. ~~William Golding
Creativity is in our nature, yet it is nearly squashed out of existence by our laws and by our culture. Let's look at a few of the trends that support this statement.
The recent political push for the ideal of "no child left behind" has turned our education into little more than a mass manufacturing process that produces conformists. Every individual "completes" the education required, success is based on a norm or curve compared to every other individual, and what is taught is based on the content of standardized tests. A tightening budget means less monies available for art and music, yet regimented sports remain untouched. Classrooms are controlled with deviations punished. There is no room for critical thinking and creativity. Socialization follows in the same rote pattern. Individuals conform to select groups of "nerds," "geeks," "jocks," "preppies," etc. in order to fit in at the expense of individuality. Clothes worn, food chosen, books read and the ideas held all conform to social norms.
Leisure time is spent on either passive entertainment or structured group activities. Watching TV or videos, playing video games or computer games have replaced creative activities. The result of this is far fewer scientists and an abundance of technicians. Creativity is reserved for upper management and designers, while everyone else's positions are lacking in responsibility, originality and creativity. It seems as though popular art and music are mass produced instead of creative as well.
But, creativity is still there, within each of us, and a little awareness can pull it out and into constructive expression. No matter what you call it, a part of your character, a personality trait, a specific talent or an uncanny ability, creativity comes from within. Others may inspire us, but creativity's origin is within. Here are a few things that may help you tap into the fire that is your creativity.
Be open to experience.
This is the direct opposite of being psychologically defensive. To be open to experience is to be aware of everything going on within of thoughts, feelings, urges, sensory input; and aware of everything without, going on around you. The more aware you are, the more fully you will be able to be a social being and an individual at the same time.
Have an internal locus of evaluation.
What you do, what you create, how you feel and how you judge what you've created is what has value, not what others say or believe. This is all that really matters, this strength and individuality. Holding onto what you value opens the door for all of your potential.
As you become more aware and open to all that you experience within and without, and the more that you trust those experiences, the more you will trust that what you value is worthwhile. You will find a confidence that is real and valid, and it is because it is truly you.
As more of what is within you comes out, you will be less rigid in your thinking, and you will see more possibilities than what is the old tried and true. You'll find other solutions, new ways of looking at things; you'll have hunches and you'll be open and spontaneous in trying new ways of doing things.
Being open to experience, having an internal locus of evaluation, being confident and playful is "thinking outside the box." It's also the opposite of the way you've lived so far. It is a bit of a risk.
Now is the time when creativity is badly needed.
It will take tremendous creativity and "thinking outside the box" to bring stability to this country and to all of our day to day lives. Just putting gas in our cars and food on the table is a challenge that requires creative bookkeeping. The issues we face today are new to us, and it will take major changes to our social structure in order to come out of this global mess we're in. And, it will take each and every one of us becoming and realizing our creative potential.
Thanks for reading.
Referenced Carl Rogers' article "Toward a Theory of Creativity" (1952), taken from his book "On Becoming a Person."