THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Eldon Taylor Headshot

Creativity

Posted: Updated:
Print

One of the most interesting things you will ever observe in nature is the creative force driving all life. Present a problem to a small child, or an animal, and watch them go to work figuring out how to find a solution. Put the cookies or the food reward just out of reach and watch the cleverness that manifests.

The simple fact is this: we are creative beings with a believing brain. Our brains are designed in such a way that we expect to find all sorts and matters of things that we can believe. Our survival depends on our ability to believe--to depend on our ability to survive, on the laws of nature, and so on. We are certain that gravity will not suspend its regularity and one day just float us for fun. So our believing brain fundamentally believes that we are able to solve problems, and if we cannot find a solution, we can at least find a workaround. Creativity is therefore an integral aspect of the architecture of our brains.

Many will tell you that learning is about memorization -- names, dates, places, the so-called who, what, where, when and why. While this form of learning may be important to passing examinations in school, it rarely is necessary to becoming successful in life. Indeed, once could argue that a certain absence of knowledge is an advantage when it comes to some forms of creativity. Take for example the sciences. For example, the journalist, William Sawyer, a scientifically untrained hobbyist inventor, developed the first successful carbon filament for light bulbs.

There are innumerable home-schooled, self-taught or just school drop-outs (high school and college) whose innovations and inventions and/or personal successes have changed our world -- Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Howard Hughes, John D. Rockefeller, Ted Turner, and so forth. (For a rather comprehensive list of famous drop-outs, visit collegedropoutshalloffame.com.

What is it these people all had in common if it wasn't a college degree? They all shared a special ability that comes packed with the human tool we call a brain. This ability, surprisingly, is one that is natural and acts automatically until it is suppressed.

We come into the world full of curiosity. We examine everything including our own feces and we are thorough, "What's it taste like?" Soon we are corrected for investigating things, warned of hidden dangers, taught to follow accepted procedures of enquiry, and so forth, all in an effort to control our behavior. Perhaps this is appropriate when we are very young, perhaps it serves to keep us safe, but it often fails to serve us later in our lives.

What is creativity but curiosity? How does this or that work? Why these proportions or this ratio? What would happen if... ? And the questions never cease. Anyone who has ever spent some time around young children can tell you about their endless what, how, and why questions. The real question for you is this: when did you last ask those kinds of questions?

If you're like most, it's been some time since you allowed your curiosity to run wild. Unfortunately, to the precise extent that you rein in curiosity, you throttle back creativity. Now some may simply ask at this juncture, something like, "So what? I have a good job, my relationships are working, I enjoy my routine -- what do I need curiosity or creativity for? It's not like I have some problem to solve."

Fair enough, but how about considering this. The difference between a good life and a fabulous life can be as simple as one act of creativity, one idea that changes the world. Think of those folks we mentioned just a few paragraphs ago. Where is the world today without the creativity of Steve Jobs? How much has the creativity of a Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates impacted your life? How often to you catch a cable news channel thanks to the creativity of Ted Turner, and on and on it goes. Not only did these people enhance their lives with their creativity but the lives of the entire world were impacted.

There are many memories my children have that arise from stories I have shared with them, making them up as you go along. Sometimes it's the scary story you tell as you drive along some pitch-dark seemingly long forgotten country road. There are the many creative ways we find to guide our children and then there are the wonderful opportunities we all have that arise from simple solutions to the regular everyday household problem. Something as ordinary as cooking offers multiple chances to be creative. Indeed, for many the way in which they assemble their wardrobe shows off their creativity on a daily basis.

The next time you sit down to your computer, think about this. Most people no longer learn how computers work, instead they learn how to work computers. Following along with some operation manual, learning how to use function keys, operating systems and the like is valuable, but it is not truly creativity. Now that said, if you apply your creative juices and work out some new way to do things with your computer, then that is creativity. How much of our lives is spent learning how to use the creativity of others verses applying our own creative energies to new and yet undiscovered possibilities?

Creativity is essential in the bedroom as well. I submit that when you eliminate creativity from your life, or severely limit it for that matter, you produce boredom. So the bottom line, the real take away, is this: creativity enhances all aspects of our lives!

If you wish to change your personality or write the next Harry Potter series, think of the creativity involved to do so. Enhancing your creativity is not only essential for unmasking your hidden talents, but it's also pure simple fun!

Thanks for the read and as always, I love your feedback,
Eldon

From Our Partners