Mind Your Creativity

Mind Your Creativity

We are by nature creative beings.  Creativity is innate to who we are, it is a fundamental part of our nature and important to our individual and community well-being.

Left Brain – Right Brain

Our brains are made up of two different sides, two hemispheres, with each hemisphere in control of different ways of thinking.  The right side of our brain is responsible for creativity, while the left side is responsible for more logical and fact-based thought.

Left Brain

Logical
Rational
Analytical
Objective
Looks at parts
Detail oriented
Fact based thoughts
Words and language
Present and past
Math and science
Order and pattern perception
Reality based

Practical

Right Brain

Random
Intuitive
Holistic
Subjective
Looks at wholes
Big picture oriented
Imagination

Symbols and images

Present and future

Philosophy & religion

Spatial perception

Fantasy based

Risk taking

Individuals may be more inclined to be more “left brained” or “right brained”, but we are all born with the ability to tap into each side and use our whole brain. You can try this short quiz to see which may be your dominant hemisphere (I’m about evenly split between my right-brain and left-brain).

Cultivating Creativity

Our culture plays a large part in how we develop our brains.  Our education system and workforce help shape and establish how we think.  In a society that values left brain thinking, logic, analysis and accuracy over aesthetics, feeling, and creativity, we end up developing the left side of our brain while our more creative side is underdeveloped.

In recent year there has been a lot written on the importance of creativity – researchers are trying to measure it, city leaders tout their creative communities and some state that creative capital is needed for global change.  We are beginning to recognize the value of creativity.

Creativity isn’t just about art, it is about original ideas and different perspectives.  Creative thinking stimulates curiosity and can generate new ideas, and as individuals and communities it is in our interest to be creative in terms of how we approach problems and develop solutions.

More Info On Creativity

If you are interested in learning more about creativity and our brain here are a few suggestions:

  • I highly recommend watching Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor speak at T.E.D. about her experience having a stroke, she offers amazing insight on how the different sides of our brain work.
  • Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind addresses the importance of right brain skills in the professional sectors, and it is a fairly easy read.
  • I also like The Cultural Creatives by Ray and Anderson, a Sociologist and Psychologist who conducted years of research and write on a growing shift in American culture.

Take Five! 5 Reasons & Creative Ways to Take a Break

I Took a Break

For the month of July I took a break from SpeakArtLoud work. I limited my time on Twitter, held back on posts to Facebook, did not write blogs, delayed work on our program planning and even conducted our quarterly board meeting via email.

Taking a break is important.  I know that, I’m sure you know that, but taking a break is not always easy to do, at least for me.  

I like working, I like the feeling of accomplishing something, and I especially enjoy working on SpeakArtLoud.

However, taking a break is good for the mind, body and spirit.  Taking a break – whether that break is a vacation away, an evening off, or an extra 15 minutes over morning coffee – time away from your normal routine and responsibilities is invaluable.

5 Reasons to Take a Break – Taking a break is an important part of self care and can help to stimulate your creative energy. Here are five reasons why you should take a break.

  1. Be Happy Taking a break can help reduce stress and can give you a chance to do things you enjoy, perhaps things you do not always have time for.  Do not down play the importance of happiness, happy people live longer and are healthier.
  2. Increase ProductivityAfter taking a break you come back refreshed and able to offer more energy to your work. It is amazing what a week off or even just a long lunch can do. Time away allows us to both rest and be stimulated.
  3. Remember What You Love Sometimes time away can help you fall back in love with what you are doing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know.  Or time away may be just what you need to help you reconnect with your true passion and inspire you to pursue a new path.  Either way, time away can help you remember what it is you truly care about giving your time and energy to.
  4. Get UnstuckTime off can help you generate new ideas. Doing the same thing or keeping a routine is comfortable but you can soon find yourself in a rut. Try taking a break, or just changing your routine, as this can help generate fresh ideas. 
  5. Balance – Finding balance is something I struggle with personally.  Its easy to get gung-ho about something you love but it is important to break and remember that family, friends, exercise and hobbies are important parts of our lives.  Take time to enjoy all of who you are.

5 Creative Ways to Take a Break – We do not always have the opportunity to take a vacation, or completely step away from our daily responsibilities.  Sometimes you need to be creative in how you take a break.  Here are 5 ways that you can easily take a break, no vacation time required.

  1. Get Crafty – No serious art skills are needed, just some paper, pencils, scissors, tape or similar supplies.  Keep it simple, just spend a few minutes being creative.  When I’m feeling stuck at the office I get creative with a bit of white-out, colored sharpies and out-of- date promotional magnets.
  2. Look at Vacation Photos – Pull out the photo album or open the electronic file with your last vacation pictures and look at the pictures.  Heck, you don’t even need to look at your pictures, go to Flickr, breeze through someone else pics and imagine your self away for a few minutes.
  3. Doodle – Just let your pen go! Don’t think too hard, don’t worry about drawing something specific – just follow the line.  This is a great way to take a mini-break.
  4. Take a Nap – It doesn’t need to be a long nap, a cat-nap will do, but catch a few extra minutes of shut eye and let your mind and body rest.  Sleep is healing!
  5. Flower Power – Take a walk and pick a handful of flowers from various spots along the way, folks usually don’t mind if you take only one or two cuttings from their garden.  Arrange the flowers with some added greenery and enjoy.  You get double points for this one because of the added value walking offers.

What I Learned From My Break

This break helped me to understand how important time off is and that I need to take time for myself.

Initially I felt guilty about taking time away from SpeakArtLoud. This is work I care about and I feel a sense of responsibility to those who support us.

With some time away, I soon recognized that I was stressed, I was tired and I needed this time off.  I did not realize that earlier, it was only with time away that recognized how I was feeling.

During my time off I came up with some new ideas for SpeakArtLoud. I have a clearer vision of the steps we need to take over the next year and I am excited about sharing my ideas with the board in September at our annual meeting. Without the time and room to think I do not believe I would have had the same insight.

Further Inspiration – If you are looking for further inspiration or ideas for taking a break here are some useful sites:

Getting in Touch with My Creative Side

Getting in Touch with My Creative Side

You can’t use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have.
Maya Angelou

In addition to working on SpeakArtLoud I have a day job, which means I spend a lot of my time at a computer, busy planning, organizing, researching, writing, scheduling and problem solving.  I have been feeling very plugged in, yet completely disconnected from myself.

I decided that I want to be more in touch with my creative side. And, given that SpeakArtLoud is all about the importance of art in individual and community well-being, I though it only right that I should stay in touch with my own creative side.

The Experiment – Unplug and Create

So, this past week I made an effort to try and experience art and creativity as often as possible. I took a technology break, with only a few minor lapses, and stayed away from my personal email, facebook, twitter and tv for a week.

Here are a few things I did this week to connect with art and creativity:

Here is how I felt at the start of the week:

  • I felt as if I should be doing something
  • I felt anxious
  • I felt like I was missing something
  • I felt guilty for not working
  • I was uncomfortable
  • I did not know what to do with my time
  • I felt unsure and did not know how to get started making art
  • I was worried about getting it right

And by the end of the week:

  • I felt more relaxed
  • I felt happier
  • I laughed a lot more
  • I realized I really liked spending time alone painting
  • I felt like I had accomplished things
  • My environment felt more colorful and energizing
  • I had fun

Facing My Fear

As a non-artist I understand that trying to be creative or to do something artistic can be intimidating. There is a bit of worry that you won’t do it right, it won’t look good or that you won’t even know what to do.  I understand that.  I’ve felt that.  In fact that was my biggest barrier to getting started.

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.
I’m frightened of the old ones.
John Cage

Important to be creative

I firmly believe that the creative process is important to health and well-being.  We know that creativity can keep you healthy.   As a non-artist what I create is less important than the actual creative process.  The time I spend thinking, relaxing, letting go and making art is what really matters.  Process is important, relax and let go!

A Few Ideas

If you are feeling stuck or uncomfortable or even fearful about making art here are some sites to visit that might inspire ideas.  Remember, enjoy the creative process!