Creativity Crushers and 8 Creativity-Harnessing Activities That Work
“Creativity is the ability to combine and recombine bits of information — either from your store of memories and knowledge or from the outside environment — in novel, original, and useful ways,” said Shelley Carson, Ph.D, Harvard researcher and author of Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life.
It’s a must for everything from running a business to getting an education. And it’s especially relevant in today’s shaky and ever-changing times, she said. But creativity won’t only help you professionally, “it will enrich your personal life and the lives of those around you.” Indeed, “Creativity is an asset in virtually every area of your life.”
Here, Carson discusses what sabotages creativity and the many ways you can harness it.
Obstacles To Creativity
How many times have you said that you aren’t creative? You might’ve even said it as you started reading this piece. One reason so many of us don’t believe we’re creative is that we associate creativity strictly with the arts. Painters, sculptors, musicians, opera singers and designers are creative. Non-artsy types are not.
But that’s a common myth. As Carson said, “everyone has creative abilities,” and our brains were “literally built to generate creative ideas.”
And you’re creative every single day. “Every time you have a conversation with someone you are putting words together in novel and original ways that are useful in conveying a message. Every time you think about the future and imagine the consequences of a certain action, you are bringing into being ideas about the future that don’t yet exist.”
The second obstacle is the fear of failure. But creativity actually flourishes with failure. That’s because, failure, Carson said, is part of the process. Creative individuals “learn as much from their failures as they do from their successes.” The key is to keep going by producing more and more ideas and “trying new things,” she said. “Even if only one in 20 is successful, you will come out ahead.”
Being overly judgmental also crushes creativity. According to Carson, everyone has an internal filter that sorts through our thoughts. “If your censor is turned up too high, your potential ideas won’t even make it into conscious awareness.” How to quell your judgmental ways?