YOU VALUE: CREATIVITY
Growing up, you likely pursued some sort of creative endeavor. Whether it was learning a new instrument, taking a painting elective or pursuing ballet, avenues for fostering your creativity were likely plentiful during your school-age years.
But as you grow older, and family and work obligations set in, it becomes difficult to cultivate creativity. And it takes work to overcome the ego and fear that comes with learning a new skill.
But creative pursuits are valuable. In business, creativity fuels growth and new ideas. In your personal life, creativity can make you well-rounded and happier. And don’t believe the fallacy that feeding creativity should be reserved for the young. According to Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way (TarcherPerigee, 1992)—a lasting authority on practicing creativity—everyone has an untapped well of creativity inside of them. It’s like a muscle that must be strengthened.
“No matter what your age or life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity,” writes Cameron. Work on building your creativity, and you’ll be “creating pathways in your consciousness through which the creative forces can operate.”
Here’s how to flex your creativity—in traditional artistic pursuits and beyond.
Live it: Get curious in the kitchen
Taking a more artistic approach in the kitchen can seamlessly incorporate creativity into your life without the added commitment of signing up for a biweekly course or spending a lot of money. Instead, innovate with ingredients that are in season for just a short time. Gather your inspiration by walking through the produce section of your natural retail store and identifying which ingredients look unusual or unfamiliar.
That crazy-looking yellow knob by the citrus? That’s called a Buddha’s hand lemon, which features a thick, fragrant rind that begs to be sliced and candied, or made into marmalade. That huge, egg-shaped, spiky fruit? That’s called a jackfruit, which hails from Southeast Asia and makes a top-notch meat replacement when stewed with barbecue or curry sauce. Your natural grocer can guide you on using seasonal produce to fuel your culinary adventures.
Live it: Craft your conversations
Creativity needn’t be limited to the dinner plate. Infuse it into your quotidian conversations to experience improvements in your workplace, relationships, place of worship and daily spots you visit, such as coffee shops or the bus stop.
Why value conversation when email is more efficient? “Conversation is brilliant at both polishing thoughts and frothing up new ones, and although professionalism encourages us to wring the maximum from meetings in minimum time, serendipity produces many of the best ideas,” writes Catherine Blyth, author of The Art of Conversation (Gotham Books, 2009). “Some writers have argued that it’s where the raw stuff of life is spun into art.” In other words, new ideas and deeper connections can stem from better conversations.
Having a creative conversation starts with having an in-person conversation in the first place. In many instances, devices such as your iPhone, laptop, Kindle or iPod are impediments. (Isn’t the universal signal of not wanting to chat while on an airplane shoving headphones into your ears?) Make yourself appear more available and engaged by placing your device into your pocket or bag.
Next, spark interesting topics by asking unexpected questions. At a work networking happy hour, instead of diving right into the nitty-gritty of job titles and where people are from, ask: “What motivates you to work in this industry?” or “What excites you about the projects you’re working on?” If you’re talking to your children, ask what they think about a certain topic. Give them a voice.