Lost Creativity

Happy Thursday, my friends!

I read a staggering statistic recently. Did you know that 90% of children ages 5 and younger are considered “highly creative”? And did you know that only 2% of adults are considered “highly creative”?

That almost does not compute for me.

If an overwhelming majority of people are wondrously and richly creative when they are children, where did that creativity go? Only a frightfully slim 2% of the worldwide adult population is considered creative!

I have several thoughts about this… To a child, everything is so marvelously new – nothing is familiar to them yet. A child has not been exposed to, let’s say, rain enough yet to have decided that it is drab and discouraging. And having only two or three Christmases under his belt, a young tot still finds his family’s annual winter holiday especially magical and wonder-filled.

Could it be that we adults are too accustomed, too familiar, with Beauty that we ignore it? Has the Sacred become mundane to us? Do we forget to marvel because we are too tangled in tradition, expectations, and structure? I suppose in this regard that familiarity is the enemy of creativity. Selah!

Think. Why is imagination, innovation, and creativity so enviable… yet we discourage and resist what is new and different?

Why is it that so many are embarrassed for “being caught” reading a book of fiction when they “ought” to be reading a biography or a news article or a book on how to pot plants? As if a well-written account of fiction should contain any less truth than a nonfiction!

I believe that fairy tales have endured over the centuries for a reason. Stories of lore and stories of love have spoken deeply to the plight of humanity across cultures and generations and communicate depths of truth – maybe even more so than any nonfiction narrative that is sorely limited by reality. Even Scripture laughs at the ideas of our perceived reality by demanding we believe that donkeys talk, men walk on water, and people entertain angels without even knowing it!

But somewhere in our individual lives, we are tempted – and many cave in – to accept the constraints of a boring life that has traded wonder for structure and believes miracles are nonsense.

Friends, whatever reason may exist for each case, I propose that we unlearn the stupid wisdom of the world and remember what it means to have a childlike sense of wonder, a childlike faith in the things of beauty and hope.

So, what’s the point?

Genesis 1:1 (so many theological points can be founded on this single verse) declares that God created the heavens and the earth, and, if we believe we are made in God’s image, we are made with the profound desire to create. Children know this. Children want to create forts, music, friendships, laughter, masterpieces… Children know nothing but imagination and exploration. Ah, what creativity we have forfeited for a lesser way of living! Let’s return to creative thinking and living. Let’s return to seeing angels everywhere we look, to finding Christ in the smallest of details, to believing the unbelievable, to the desire to birth something new

From a spiritual perspective, we must do something new to achieve new results! To reach the lost is going to take some creativity and imaginative pioneering!

Creativity takes courage.

Finding lost creativity is going to be hard. I believe creativity is a muscle. If you don’t exercise that muscle, it is flabby and painful to be stretched. If you begin to regularly flex that creativity, it will get stronger and become natural.

Here are a few ideas on how to stir up your own creativity…

  • Eat at a brand new restaurant – one that doesn’t offer a hamburger on the menu! – maybe even one that represents an ethnicity you are unfamiliar with. Ask the waiter what his favorite meal is and why.
  • Write out your favorite childhood memory from the perspective of an imaginary third party.
  • If you’re a night owl, wake up an hour earlier than usual. If you’re a morning person, stay up an hour later. Shake up your circadian rhythm (your internal clock)! Studies show that your brain is more disorganized when you’re working at off-peak hours (duh), so this helps to get you thinking outside your normal box.
  • Google images for the color red, the emotion of fear, or some other abstract topic.
  • Leave your phone at home every so often.
  • Watch a Studio Ghibli movie. Seriously. My favorite is “Howl’s Moving Castle.” The exquisite artwork, attention to detail, and mesmerizingly slow pace is so un-American, and learning to appreciate the beauty of another culture is key to breaking familiarity and expectations.
  • Write a letter to a friend. Don’t type – write.
  • Learn a dance from a different culture, like the salsa, and take it as seriously as you choose. The more fun you have, the better!
  • Take a different route to and from work.
  • Try speaking with a friend for a fifteen minutes without using a common word, such as “I” or “and.” This forces you to reword your sentences and choose words that aren’t usually part of your vocabulary.
  • Exercise and eat healthy!
  • Surround yourself with other creatives, artists, and storytellers. #synergy
  • Invite some friends over to your house and together read through a play that uses unfamiliar vernacular, like a classic Shakespeare play. I love the depth of King Lear.
  • Listen to a TED Talk, possibly one whose speaker has a foreign accent. Unfamiliarity expands thinking!
  • Make a major life change, such as getting a new hairstyle.
  • Listen to a song from a genre of music that you don’t usually gravitate to. Be intentional about finding beauty and truth in it. Is there a chord progression that is unique, or is there a lyric that you can appreciate? What is the overall mood of the song? What sort of emotional response do you suppose the songwriters hoped to receive from their listeners?
  • Watch a behind-the-scenes snippet, bloopers, or a commentary from a movie that you love.
  • Test out a brand new recipe that you think you may enjoy. Make everything from scratch – don’t cut corners!
What are some other ways that we can claim our lost creativity and fuel our imaginations?
For God’s glory,
Josh
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