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The Heart of Creativity

By Lily Jedynak, Ph.D. on July 17, 2023

Dr. Lily Jedynak is an exceptionally gifted multipotentialite. As a professional coach she helps women to flourish as they bring their gifts to the world. She holds six university degrees and is passionate about creativity as a writer, musician, and artist. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

The Heart of Creativity

Creativity. What is it, why is it important, and how can we become more creative?

Creativity seems like a good idea. It can feel nice, warm, pleasant, and somewhat questionable as to its value. For many, it’s a non-essential, an ‘add-on’ at best, something to explore in retirement, if at all. But for others, it’s much more than this. It’s vital. It’s the way of healing ourselves, each other, and the planet.

But here’s the rub – even the most creative among us seem to struggle when it comes to putting their finger on what creativity is. We’re led to believe that we’re only being creative when we’re writing, art-making, singing, acting, designing, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. We’re constantly pressured to pursue productivity at the expense of our creativity. We find ourselves in environments that don’t support or come close to nurturing our creativity. We’re told half-truths about what creativity is, that it’s problem-solving, divergent thinking, convergent thinking, innovative thinking, associative thinking, flexible thinking, and thinking outside the box.

While some of us question, “Is there a box?” many of us are either fighting against being put into a box or trying to escape the uncomfortable box we’ve been stuffed into.

As a result, creativity flounders. It becomes a minefield. Exasperated, I asked my writing mentor once what she thought creativity was and she threw up her hands and sighed. “Who knows?” she said. “It’s way above my pay grade.” She was head of the English Department and literature had been her life. I took her point. For all the years I’d spent being “creative," all the hundreds of books I’d read on the subject – the googling, the podcasts, the YouTube videos, the exploration of music, art, writing, drama, dance, design, entrepreneurship, education, psychology, and neuroscience – I’d felt no closer to defining creativity. It seemed nebulous, mysterious at the core. But I did know that every human being was creative and that there was no such thing as an uncreative person, although some insisted that they were anything but creative. “I can’t even draw a stick figure!”

Somewhere along the line, our natural, immersive creativity can get traded for logic, predictability, correctness, and responsibility. This happened to me because of the education system I was exposed to. Sadly, I learned from creativity advocate, Sir Ken Robinson, that I was far from alone. As we know, the school system was built in the industrial revolution and remains largely unchanged to this day, churning out workers fit for factories, stamping out creativity on purpose. We are supposed to become functioning adults who must behave, conform, or be rejected as a failure.

Too many of us have been told that we’re not that creative or our art is no good, and we believed these pervasive lies. Perhaps we experienced something traumatic which may have understandably shut down our creative self as we had to prioritize survival over imagination. Or perhaps we lived in our imagination only to find it wasn’t valued in the real world. Perhaps we were labeled daydreamers and criticized whenever we tried to access an imaginal realm. An atmosphere of not being good enough in some way sinks deeply into our core beliefs about our gifted selves, our worthiness to be here, our ability to be safe, and our flexibility to create what feels true to us.

But what if it’s vital that we access our imagination, to activate our full creative potential, which is really to say, our full potential?

Our relationship with creativity is important, for it reflects our relationship with ourselves and what we believe about ourselves. Creativity is the spark of life, which never goes out, it doesn’t even dim. But the more we are conditioned to do what we think we should ­– embodying the learned behaviors that constrain and sever us from who we are at our point of origin, at our root – the more the connection gets stretched and filled with static and fear.

The box we are constantly pressured to get into is the antithesis of creativity. In the box we are uncomfortable, miserable, anxious, and scared. In the box we are not good enough and this drains our energy as we hold up a façade of who we think we should be, as we try to be something we’re not. We are blind to our options, to possibility. We are too exhausted to pursue anything creative. We are diluted and dampened down. In the box we live sanitized, convenient, safe, predictable, boring lives. We are no better than machines, automatons, a head on a stick. We are required to “put a lid on it" and must, above all, refrain from “rocking the boat”. In this dismal state of disconnection and desensitization, we end up living “half-lives” steeped in fear and scarcity.

To change this, it’s imperative that we remove the static that disconnects us from our creative selves.

This requires a fundamental reclaiming – a re-turning to a moment, real or imagined, before we knew the words for things or even the definitions of words. Before we knew the rules and regulations of how to live our lives, and how to succeed. Before we even knew our name. Back then, there is a spark that is me and you and all of us and that’s our creative energy. That spark has never gone out, never dimmed, never gone anywhere. Our imaginations can be used to reconnect to that spark. That’s what we’re healing, the connection. We’re not healing our creativity. We have all the creativity already built into our DNA, already coded, already there.

Not only can we use our imagination to reclaim our inherent creativity, we can also use our curiosity. Here’s what renowned writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, has to say about this:

“Creative living is any life that you live where your decisions are based more strongly on your curiosity than your fear. And if you consistently, habitually, routinely, at every sort of intersection and decision in your life make decisions based on curiosity rather than fear, then you will be engaging with creativity. Your life itself will become a work of art if you can consistently live that way.”

Here is the heart and soul of creativity writ large. The key to healing our connection with our creativity. Curiosity. Making decisions based on fear puts us back in the box. However, curiosity doesn’t even see the box.

Curiosity is free-ranging. It explores from a place or space of wholeness. And the more we exercise it like a muscle, it will strengthen, embolden, empower us. We can “flow” with it, become it, embody it.

Yes, creativity can be about breaking away from established patterns, questioning assumptions, taking risks, and embracing uncertainty. Yes, creativity can be encouraged through brainstorming, experimentation, open-mindedness, curiosity, and exposure to diverse experiences and perspectives. Yes, we can cultivate it and it can be enough unto itself, free from the lodestone of needing to have a point to have value in the world. Free from the yoke of productivity. Free from the strictures of words to become, instead, a feeling.

And that feeling is love.

To connect with our creativity, to our wholeness, to our truth, is super-easy.

All we have to do is follow love.

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