Whether you work in a creative industry or not, scientists have determined that creativity is a universal strength. After three years of research on centuries of culture, religion, philosophy from the great minds of our time, 55 top social scientists developed a list of human traits that are valued around the world. In total, 24 character strengths were classified to help identify what’s best about human beings. One of them is creativity.
Creativity is a classification that many have a hard time claiming for themselves. It’s weird to say, “I’m creative” without wondering if you’re creative enough to say it out loud. While creativity is easily identified with creative industries like design, art and photography, it’s used everywhere. Just think about the stock market!
Here is the VIA Character Institute’s definition of creativity:
Creativity [originality, ingenuity]: Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it
Have you ever come up with a new way of doing something in order to solve a problem? For example, do you use leftovers at home to make new meals? Take old clothes and update them so you don’t have to buy a new wardrobe each season? Do you ever hum new tunes or doodle in your spare time?
Studies on strengths tell us that everyone has it, just to varied degrees. Some say that to lead a creative life, we must create space for creativity and then look for new patterns in our thinking. While these are valid points, here are a few other ways to exercise your creativity muscles:
1. Recognize the creativity you use daily. If your work is email-heavy, skim through your sent messages at the end of the day to see if you said something in a new way to make your message more clear, or offered up a new idea to form a solution. Did you create anything new? Come up with a different approach for anything? Think about the choices you make on a regular basis. Are any of them risky?
2. Think about a time in the past when you were especially creative. As a child, did you ever invent new games or play pretend? In the last year, were there any major achievements in your life that involved a novel idea or innovative solution?
3. Find a new creative project. This doesn’t necessarily mean paint a mural or build an ice sculpture. It can be anything from rearranging your furniture to adding a different flavor to your favorite recipe. Draw a picture, read a new magazine, go to a museum, do the crossword in your newspaper. Find something you do regularly, and then change it up a bit.
To build any strength, you have to use it. Using your strengths on a regular basis leads to better performance at work and in life, helps you maintain balance, and can help foster healthy relationships. Start working on creativity today.
By Alisa Manjarrez
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