“Our everyday creativity is not only good for us but it’s also one of the most powerful capacities we have, bringing us alive in each moment, affecting our health and well-being, offering richness and
alternatives in what we do, and helping us move further
in our creative and personal development.”
Dr. Ruth Richards, Everyday Creativity
The guiding principles behind this journey we are undertaking are deep and profound. They are grounded in scientific research and theory which spans decades. A New York Times article from the ’80 attributes the term ‘everyday creativity’ to Dr. Ruth Richards, my mentor and favorite creativity scholar, and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School. Here’s what she says about this topic: “It’s strange – many people still think creativity is largely about making art, and is much more relevant to famous people than the rest of us. Not so!” Dr. Richards wants us all to understand the idea of “originality in everyday life” is about seeing what may seem ordinary as extraordinary – be it creating a dinner from leftovers, to making up songs or stories for our little ones, orchestrating a cross country move, or planning a fund raising event for a cause dear to us. If we are breathing, we’re creative. It is, in fact, an essential life and survival skill. Got it?
“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.”
Play Prompt #1: Now repeat after me: I AM creative! Louder: I AM CREATIVE. Now sing it: I am creative…la la la.. Now make up a few more lines to this song… (have fun with this). There – I’ve eased you into Play Prompt #1 for today. Write a song or poem or even a button/badge which declares: I AM CREATIVE…YOU ARE CREATIVE…WE ALL ARE CREATIVE! Now – while you’re stretching your creative muscles – please know you are building your brain cells and new neural pathways. Doing anything different from your routine stimulates brain growth. How’s that for a happy consequence? (By the way – the I AM CREATIVE button in the photo was created by Marci Segal, a graduate of the Buffalo State Creativity Studies program and the founder of World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21. We will be celebrating that awesome event in a very special way through this blog so stay tuned!) I took the photo just this moment using my two favorite monster finger puppets as sign-holders! Do you have toys on your desk? It might be time to go shopping for some!
“Play is the highest form of research.”
Play Prompt #2: Make yourself a “Permission to Play” poster. This can be a collage similar to the one in the image shown or a simple permission slip you create and print off your computer. Dress it up with stickers, glitter or your reprints of your favorite quotes. Grab some crayons and color it. Make a mini-version to carry in your purse or wallet. Make it a playful reminder of your intention to make room for creative play in your day.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Play Prompts #3 & #4: Journal your resistance and your enthusiasm – whatever comes up. Ask yourself: ” how would I most like to ‘play’ today?” and do it. If you are not sure where to start on your journey into creative discovery, try intuitive inquiry. Open your journal to a blank page. Date it. Then write out this question at the top of the page: “What’s the best baby step for me to take to start this journey into creative play today?” Next – switch your pen over to your non-dominant hand. And write the answer which comes into your mind. Do it now.
“We need to make the world safe for creativity and intuition, for it’s creativity and intuition that will make the world safe for us.”
Note about intuitive inquiry: it is best approached in a relaxed state and with an open mind. The answer which comes forward is from your sub-conscious. This is as much a part of you as your cognative brain. It is your body’s GPS, designed to guide you, safely, to your desired destination. Pay attention to it. Resist the temptation to ‘figure it out’. Trust it will move you in the direction you need to go. Play with it. It might suggest you scrub the kitchen floor. Just do it. Pay attention to your feelings and thoughts while you’re scrubbing. Write down your insights or discoveries. You might even do a second intuitive inquiry after you’ve followed your prompt to ask: “What was I supposed to learn from this?” And use your non-dominant hand to record the answer. This is a powerful tool. Put it in your creativity tool box and carry it around with you. I promise it will come in handy!
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
Last week I shared the motivation behind this 10-week experience. This is the week we dip our toes into the water. I want you to imagine we’re all walking through a beautiful garden pathway leading to a wide river. There is a canoe waiting for each of us. We need to take off our shoes and wade over to our vessel. Be prepared to get muddy. Any journey into creativity is bound to be messy from time to time. Make room for the mess in your life. Follow your curiosities. Challenge yourself to explore unfamiliar paths and activities which both excite and terrify you. The terror is just fear of the unknown. Remember this acronym: fear is nothing but false evidence appearing real. It’s the product of negative pretending. For this 10-week experiment – promise me you’ll use every fear thought as a trigger to practice positive pretending. Simply replace your ‘worst case’ imaginings with ‘best case’ scenarios. It will be challenging, but it is absolutely doable. Bonus: you’ll be building brain capacity every time you pull yourself out of old ‘stinking thinking’ ruts and forge new ways of thinking and being in the world.
“The only journey is the journey within.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
Are you feeling excited or overwhelmed? I am confident you have at least a few butterflies dancing in your belly at the thought of what may lie ahead. Here’s more good news: you get to craft your own journey. I will suggest projects and plant playful ‘idea seeds’ – but the choice is yours. You are committed to taking creative action. If you’d rather explore another area of creativity which spurs your interest – do it. We can talk all day about how to activate creative potential and unlock doors of awareness and personal growth, but nothing happens unless we take action. So follow your heart or follow my prompts – just DO something fun and personally playful!
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve shared a photo of the ‘creative play’ nest I built in my bed last week – along with one of the collages I created. I really hope you will share your creative awakenings this week by posting comments. I’d love to see photos, too. Tell us what worked for you and what didn’t. We will all learn from each other. My reading list this week included: Everyday Creativity (2007) edited by Dr. Ruth Richards and Switch – How to Change Things when Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath (clicking on this link will take you to a free sample chapter of the book!). I want to send a personal “thank you” to Dr. Richards, professor and executive faculty member at Saybrook University in San Francisco for all her contributions to the field of creativity, and for her generous sharing of insights and encouragement to me personally. My plan is to apply to the Saybrook Graduate College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies to pursue my PhD in Psychology (they have a distance learning program which will allow me to live in Sarasota). Dr. Richards – you are a true creative treasure!
Play Prompt #5: Try something new. This might mean signing up for Twitter so you can follow my inspiration and play prompts all week long. I’m going to take a dance lesson at Arthur Murray Dance Studio – something I said I’d never do. Well – never say never. My plan is to push past my resistance and have fun with it. What will you do? Give yourself permission to be a beginner. That’s a big key to being open to joy in life. Don’t let your ‘brain’ decide that’s fun or creative based on old information. Jump in the water. Give some new experience a chance. It just might open a door of awareness that blesses you the rest of your life!
“The very act of creating is an act of power, an act of hope.”
Enjoy the journey my friends! See you this time next week with a new chapter in our adventure. Don’t forget to visit www.JoyofQuotes.com when you need an extra boost of encouragement and inspiration. You can also find me at http://twitter.com/quotejoy tweeting my prompts all week long.
“What (the creator) feels…is joy, joy defined as the emotion that goes with heightened consciousness, the mood that accompanies the experience of actualizing one’s own potentialities.”
(The photo below shows me – far right – with a group of ladies from Columbia who joined in “Gratitude Dancing” on Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida. Thanks to my friend Ann who ‘created’ the idea of Gratitude Dancing!) She was inspired by Matt - a young man who went all over the world and shared his ‘happy dance’ with people. The YouTube video he created caused an internet sensation. Watching it always fills me with joy. Click here or Google: “Where in the hell is Matt?” Hope you enjoy it, too.
Have a fun week!
Marta Davidovich Ockuly