Creativity is traditionally associated with the arts: painting, music, dance, etc., and while the arts are undoubtedly creative, they’re not the only kind of creativity out there. Today I want to talk about what I call “Everyday Creativity.” Everyday creativity, as defined by some pretty serious scholars, is anything you do that expresses originality and meaningfulness. For some, that could be painting, music, or dance, but you don’t have to be “artistic” in the traditional sense to embrace and enjoy the benefits of everyday creativity.
In this post, we’ll go into detail about what everyday creativity really is, as well as give you some examples and suggestions of how you can incorporate it into your life. You never know, you might read on to discover that you’re more creative than you thought!
Expression of Originality
The first defining point of everyday creativity is that it is an expression of originality. Originality is anything you make, think, create, or do that is unique to yourself and your particular mind/body/spirit. An expression of originality could include anything from experimenting with cupcake flavours to designing a hook out of a bunch of coat-hangers to retrieve the keys you locked in your car through a tiny opening in one of the back windows (true story). The key in figuring out how to express originality is to ask yourself: 1) What are you interested in? and 2) How you can make, think, do, or create something that makes a contribution to that interest? I’m not talking big contributions like Pulitzer Prize winning novels. I’m talking, “Hey, I like fresh vegetables, but I live in an urban condo. I’m going to try to build and grow a vegetable garden on my balcony.” Sometimes, a contribution can be as simple as a basket of home-grown tomatoes.
Expression of Meaningfulness
Plenty of scholars and philosophers believe that the act of creating and expressing one’s unique gifts and talents is central to creating meaning. (Human behaviour scholar Brené Brown talks a lot more about this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection.) Again, when thinking about meaningfulness and everyday creativity, I encourage you to start by thinking small. Don’t ask yourself how your art will change the world—at least, not yet—instead, ask yourself how your art will change your life and the lives of the people close to you. This can be as simple as making a homemade birthday card for a friend or designing an intricate pattern of nail art for your fingernails just because it gives you joy every time you look at them. Sometimes, meaningfulness can come from the simple act of stepping back and looking at something you’ve taken the time to create, while also appreciating what went into it and what it brought/will bring to your life.
Thinking Outside the Box
Again, creativity isn’t just limited to artistic manifestations. As Michele Root-Bernstein, co-author of Sparks of Genius, said: “It’s the problem-solving processes exhibit[ed] rather than the content or craft ... Just about anything we do can be addressed in a creative manner, from housecleaning to personal hobbies to work.”
Remember that time I made a hook out of a bunch of coat-hangers to save my car keys? That was everyday creativity as it relates to problem solving and thinking outside the box. Sure, I could have called a mechanic, but that would have taken more time and money, so I used what I had in my shopping bags and made it work. The next time you’re faced with a challenge or a boring task like housecleaning, think about how you can make it more creative or solve the problem in a different way. Maybe the answer lies in thinking outside the box.
Curiosity, Authenticity, and Open-mindedness
Curiosity, authenticity, and open-mindedness are all qualities you can foster in yourself that will help make you more creative in your everyday life. Being curious means you’re interested in the world and are open to experimenting and trying new things, which are important parts of expressing your originality. Being curious about the world and soaking up as much information and knowledge as possible also helps foster inspiration and a million different ideas for how you can manifest your creativity. Authenticity is also important because it is only by being authentic that you can express your originality as well as your unique gifts and talents. Being authentic might mean that you stop caring what your roommates think about you when you have a solo-dance party in your room, or it might mean finally admitting to yourself that you really want to write romance novels instead of investigative journalism. Finally, working on cultivating open-mindedness is an essential practice if you’re ever going to learn how to think outside the box.
While it may seem overwhelming at first to talk about fostering big concepts and qualities like “authenticity,” the most important thing to remember and to take away from this blog post is that creativity is not reserved for a particular group of people and can be practiced by anyone at any time. Stop worrying about whether or not you’re a “traditional artist” (whatever that means) and stop waiting for majestic inspiration to strike. Start small with something you love and do it simply because it makes you happy. The rest will evolve from there.