Your brain is a meaning-making machine. At all times, your imagination and creativity are actively creating scenarios and potential outcomes in your head. How you experience your world is mostly a creation of your perspective and beliefs.
While situations create emotions, our thoughts and beliefs about a problem often run the show. I previously shared the cybernetic loop in a blog post about how stress and anxiety block decision-making.
Practical creativity recognises your mind’s role in how you experience your world: what do you want to create?
You can awfulise and catastrophe: allowing your inner critic to judge and tell you all that is wrong with you. Your anxiety and stress limits can be pushed by imagining the worst-case scenario. Your relationships can be strained by thinking the worst.
You might go the other way and dissociate into fantasy, creating in your mind an idyllic scenario where everything is perfect. Do nothing. And nothing changes.
Or you stay present and look at yourself and others through the eyes of compassion, practising the self-awareness of emotional intelligence and creating opportunities to change the situation and your relationships for the better.
What is creativity?
“I’m not creative.”
Really? If you think creativity is merely the ability to paint and draw, to be an artist or musician, to express yourself on stage through dance or performance, then not all of us are creative.
But creativity is so much more than just being artistic.
Napoleon Hill discusses imagination as “synthetic imagination” and “creative imagination”. Both are effectively creative. Synthetic imagination is taking old concepts, ideas or plans and organising them in new ways. Most of us are adept at this. Creative imagination is about hunches and inspiration.
Engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs are all creatives: some have synthetic ideas, building on what already exists in the world and improving it. Others are disruptors, bringing something entirely new and different to the forefront.
But creativity isn’t expressed exclusively by artists and businesses.
Every one of us uses our imagination, thoughts and vision daily. Consciously or unconsciously. With or without intention.
The secret to living from the inside out is to harness that imagination and vision and focus it to create your life. Be present and intentional. Embody your vision by living authentically.
I’ll remind you again: Well-being is an inside job!
Using your creative power to create a vision of the future:
When you think you’re stuck, you are merely in a loop: thoughts, feelings and lack of new action. You repeat the same patterns, ending up with the very same results.
To interrupt the loop, you must start thinking different thoughts: put your creative mind to work on envisioning something different. Feel it.
Some people can do this in their mind’s eye. I’m not one of them, as my brain is wired differently with aphantasia. So, I have to use other tools, for example, a vision board (where I lay it out to see it) and role-playing (when I want to see myself acting differently when interacting with a particular person).
Try creative perspectives:
But if you want to create any change in your world and how you experience it, start with how you look at it and conceive it. You could try looking at your world through the following eyes and perspectives:
- Remember when you were eight or ten years old, and look at your life through those eyes. What would you notice that stands out as great in your life? Where would you be disappointed in how you behave and face life’s challenges?
- Roll back ten years and remember your hopes and dreams for the future and what you were looking to create: what do you notice in your present life that aligns with what you asked for and built? Likewise, what are you surprised to find? What wisdom do you gain from looking at your life from this perspective?
- Allow yourself to roll forward ten years and reflect on this moment in your life. What do you notice? What needs to urgently change to be where you would like to be in ten years?
- Choose the perspectives of three other people that you admire and respect; it could be a mentor or someone that was a teacher or professor. You might choose a grandparent or older family member. Perhaps you select your child with their innocent wonder and lively hopes and dreams.
What do you see differently when you look creatively at your life?
Allow yourself some time to play with creativity:
Most creativity happens naturally when we play. Make time to play with ideas, holding them lightly, without attachment to outcomes.
Rather than anxiously creating scenarios in your head subconsciously, set the intention to play with scenarios. What if I choose x? Make a list of the pros and cons. Set a timer or limit how long you will play with each scenario.
Give yourself at least five different scenarios to play with: you will feel better having more options! If you love writing, write five other stories with different endings as you make different choices. Notice how they feel and which ones you connect with the most. Do you get any gut-wrenching rejection of any storyline? Does your heart sing with joy?
Create different vision boards or art for each option if you’re a visual person. Play with the imagery, colours and feelings that arise.
Or perhaps you are more about movement or music. Choose five different songs or genres of music to represent each scenario, and allow yourself to sing, dance or move through each option. Play with how it feels in your body.
As you will have noticed, there are many practical and creative ways you can create and experience your world. How you choose to do it is entirely up to you!
Preparing for the future and unknown:
I’ve said many times, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” But it’s not “hard work”; it’s laying the foundations of the future.
I constantly work on self-improvement, even without a specific purpose or goal.
Follow your curiosity and learn things that interest you. Allow yourself the pleasure of constantly learning and growing.
Remember what I said at the beginning about “synthetic imagination” – the ability to take everything you’ve learned and put it together in new and novel ways? Your creativity will kick in when you need it if you’ve built a solid foundation of knowledge and experience.
Bring to your life an open mind to look at your situation or challenge from more than one perspective. Ask others for their point of view if you’re struggling to see things differently on your own.
Build a support network around you that brainstorms options when facing challenges rather than simply commiserating with your anxiety. Give yourself the possibility of bouncing ideas off others before making life-changing decisions. Choose who you bounce ideas off wisely: don’t blindly accept criticism from those you wouldn’t ask for advice.
Above all, remember that you are creative. Every moment of every day, you are creating your life by how you respond to the challenges and situations before you.
- Practical creativity: how you create and experience your world
- Personality is created by personal reality: now change
- Make life better: how to live abundantly and authentically
- Emotional intelligence: 9 ways to build your self-awareness
- A new perspective for wisdom: change your view of the world