When we imagine the makings of ourselves, creativity seems like an attribute that should sit high among the ranks of Ivy League stature, a fit physique, and gorgeous hair. At the end of the day, we all want a mind where we can conjure up ideas at the flip of a switch. But the reality is, creativity is elusively fickle.
This past fall, bestselling author and TED talk speaker, Elizabeth Gilbert released her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear in which she shares how to live more creatively and uncover the “strange jewels” hidden within each of us. In her follow-up to the smash hit “Eat, Pray, Love,” Gilbert shares how creativity isn’t necessarily exclusive to the arts or professionals, but rather an ideal driven by our natural born curiosities.
In honor of Big Magic and our emergent desires to feel further inspired, we share how to harness your creativity through simple practices. No matter who you are or how you grew up, creativity isn’t a talent that you either have or don’t have—it’s a skill you can build!
Overcome Your Fears
"Be brave. Without bravery, you will never know the world as richly as it longs to be known. Without bravery, your life will remain small—far smaller than you probably wanted your life to be."
A basic human emotion, fear causes us to be afraid in changing course and moving on. Likewise, it entitles itself as a means to keep us safe from danger. But what if fear is just another outlook on life? What if it’s more of a perception than a reality? When you push yourself to be brave, you allow yourself to see life from another perspective. Most often, hiding behind our fears are second chances waiting to be seized—we just have to take the leap!
"If I am not actively creating something, then chances are I am probably actively destroying something—myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind."
Increasing creativity and developing intuition, meditation helps to think outside the box by clearing the mind of unnecessary thoughts and doubts. In addition to relaxing your mind, Science Daily reported certain meditation techniques influence the divergent and convergent styles of thinking—ingredients essential in stoking creativity.
Embrace the Weird
"This is how I want to spend my life—collaborating with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand."
Every new idea looks crazy at first, but the key is to think outside the box. Seriously—just go nuts! Not everything in life needs an explanation. For example, look at peanut butter and jelly. Delicious, right? Strange combinations spark great ideas! By not conforming to what is expected, you’re open to connecting the dots where we usually wouldn’t.
"Your own reasons to create are reason enough. Merely by pursuing what you love, you may inadvertently end up helping us plenty. Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart."
When we think of intuition, we often associate it with psychic phenomena. However, the truth is our unconscious mind is not only smarter than we think, but a boundless motivating factor to our creativity. By following gut instincts formed from our past experiences or a plain old hunch, we are opening doors to a newfound logic in our life, with an expanding imagination.
Let Go of Ego
"Your ego is a wonderful servant, but it’s a terrible master because the only thing your ego ever wants is reward, reward, and more reward. Always remember this: You are not only an ego; you are also a soul."
Because creativity stems from passion and imagination, when our fickle ego suffers failure, often times our creativity does too. Taking us on a downward spiral of low self-esteem, ego tends to overpower our thinking, robbing us of our real abilities. But we are more than just an ego. We are made up a steady soul with bright passions. Our soul is where our pure self resides and where our desires see the bigger picture in life. Though failure has a way of teaching us what we need to know about ourselves, realize that ego is just too caught up in itself and it’s not personal.
"Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself. It begins when you declare your intent. Stand up tall and say what you are."
In a world where we’re judged on our appearances, behavior or interests, defining ourselves to others can be hard. Which is why it’s imperative to define who you are to the most important person in the discussion—YOU. Through defining yourself by who you believe you are capable of becoming and mapping out your intentions, you gain a better understanding of yourself. The more you act on your purpose, the more creativity builds.
"Forgive yourself if you tried to create something and it didn’t work out. Remember that you’re nothing but a beginner—even if you’ve been working on your craft for years. We’re all just beginners here, and we shall all die beginners."
Holding onto guilt takes up a lot of energy that is not helpful for our soul. In order to unleash creativity, it’s crucial to understand our mistakes and failures do not define us. Might be unfathomable, but self-forgiveness is key in moving forward with a renewed purpose dedicated on change, improvement and living your passions. At the end of the day, disown your mistakes—not yourself.