Creativity resides right at the edge of chaos

Life becomes brighter rapidly when you start creating and expressing. Get out of the rat race and start getting high on your own supply.

Life gets brighter when you start creating and expressing; when you get out of the rat race and start getting high on your own supply. We usually associate creativity with the younger generation, and we think of ourselves as being much more adventurous and creative in our younger years. 

Do you remember a time in your life when you thought you could be anyone, and you were full of enthusiasm to explore and discover different interests? 

Unfortunately, as much as we would like to retain that zest and fire of our younger years, we eventually lose sight of our creative selves. According to psychologists at UC Berkeley, creativity declines as we age, as adults tend to engage less in creative activities.

🌟 Path of Least Resistance 🌟

Why aren't more people creating things? In his book, The Art of War, Steven Pressfield argues that the reason is simple: people are losing the battle against resistance. Pressfield describes this as an invisible force that tries to prevent creative expression by leaving things as they are. Resistance is the one villain that everyone is trying to defeat.

To take up the fight against inner resistance (commonly referred to as laziness), Pressfield recommends setting aside a block of time each day for creative thinking and writing down tasks with intention and clarity. But first, before we can find the path of least resistance and harvest our creative juices, we must understand what creativity is and how to harness its power and unlock our potential.

Creativity requires effort and energy. Contrary to popular belief that the right hemisphere of the brain is the creative side, recent brain imaging studies show that creativity can come from both the right and left hemispheres, depending on the circumstances. 

When we deal with or respond to unfamiliar things that require strategic thinking and improvisation, brain activity increases in the right hemisphere. On the other hand, when we are doing creative things out of routine, such as playing an instrument we've been learning since childhood, the left hemisphere takes over.

According to Abraham Maslow, creativity is a facet of self-actualization which is at the top of the hierarchy of needs. Even though creativity is present in everybody, not everyone is (unconsciously) willing to expend the energy, time, and effort necessary to create and solve problems. To actively encourage spontaneous creativity and expression, basic needs always come first. 

Creativity is a luxury compared to survival, even though the two are often intertwined. And once the needs for safety and security are met, ideas become things, empathy increases, and a greater sense of well-being and self-esteem grows.

Breaking Free

Creation is the causal force of evolution and the essence of life itself. Creative expression is essentially sharing one's inner world of experience and feeling with others using a specific medium. 

Traditional mediums include writing, drawing, singing, painting, and playing an instrument, but there are hundreds of other ways people can express their creativity. In addition to art, creativity can be expressed in business, science, and even everyday life.

However, if we are to name a great creative thinker who managed to overcome adversity and put his innovative thoughts into action with great success, it would be Steve Jobs. He attributed a significant part of his success to daily practice, discipline, and willingness to fail.

Discipline is a great weapon to fight the stories and illusions that inhibit creative inspiration and expression. Desire is the firm desire to achieve a goal. And the willingness to fail is the openness to take risks and try things that have never been done before.

But it's never what it sounds like. Resistance takes many forms, and we need to be aware today that the media is one of them. The media sets the norm, tells the masses what is acceptable, and shapes our view of the world, often inhibiting creative thinking.

You gotta act, and you've gotta be willing to fail, you've got to be willing to crash and burn. You know, with people on the phone, with starting a company, whatever, if you're you're afraid of failing, you won't get very far.

Steve Jobs

Beyond Sensationalism

Although mainstream media tries to draw viewers in with sensationalism and archetypal narratives about order and chaos, the creative process underscores the necessity of both. Chaos and order are both necessary components, and the answer lies in the "and," not the "or."

Cleaning up clutter in the corner of your room and then, when you want to get creative, allow yourself to make a mess is creativity in action.

This paradoxical phenomenon plays out inside the brain because the creative thinking process occurs when two important parts of the brain work together. One part is the default network, the other part is the executive control network. These parts have an antagonistic relationship with each other but work together harmoniously during creative thinking and artistic performance.

As the old saying goes, "To make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs". Creativity does not arise in a perfectly organized and logical way. In most cases, it comes from a combination of thoughts and ideas. For example, when a writer is writing a novel, it may take a whole series of drafts and concepts before he finally comes up with a bestseller. 

Similarly, painters have to deal with a messy study before they can complete their masterpiece. In a sense, then, chaos and order must coexist, for only by embracing their coexistence can one fully and freely master the creative process. 

A great example of this is Joker's famous line to Batman, "You complete me."

Another form of resistance that is very common is perfectionism. In psychology, this condition is often the result of a lack of encouragement and affirmation during the developmental years, often combined with criticism, reprimand, or punishment. 

We can combat this resistance by not allowing imperfect situations to affect our self-esteem and challenge our ability to create.

Getting into the Flow

The Flow Genome Project, an organization that conducts incredible research to enhance human performance, has discovered an altered state that increases creativity by up to 200% - the flow state. Their research organization is actively seeking ways to achieve peak performance through the flow state.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who first coined the term "flow" in 1990, flow is "the subjective state in which a person is working at their full capacity and their attention is so focused on a task that factors such as fatigue and boredom do not interfere; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people participate for the sake of it."

It is a state of mind that occurs when a person's skills and challenges match the task at hand; a byproduct of achieving goals with clear feedback that instantly determines if the action is successful. Ultimately, this leads to an increase in self-esteem and self-mastery.

On a physiological level, the brain releases a tremendous amount of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin, neurochemicals that induce pleasure and achievement while stimulating the creative thought process.

For example, norepinephrine and dopamine increase your ability to focus on details and process more information. When you focus on a task, the sounds in your head become quieter, and you can associate in new ways. The neurochemical anandamide allows you to improve your lateral thinking and recognize patterns related to success or failure.

🚀 Activation 🚀

According to Kotler's book "Stealing Fire," the flow state can be achieved through extreme sports, psychedelics, and meditation. Many people from different walks of life have achieved the impossible (the big "I" impossible) by reaching the flow state and tapping into their inner creativity to solve problems.

Kotler describes two main factors that trigger creativity in the flow state: Pattern recognition and risk-taking. Once a pattern has been recognized, all the individual has to do is act, regardless of whether it is successful or not. This repetitive activity is what constitutes the creative process.

Many people from various walks of life have achieved the impossible (the big "I" impossible) by entering the flow state and tapping into their inner creativity to solve problems. According to Kotler, there are two main factors that trigger creativity in the flow state: Pattern recognition and risk-taking.

Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process. Enthusiasm - from the Greek, filled with God - is an ongoing energy supply tapped into the flow of life itself.

Julia Cameron

Creative Thinking

In general, there are three main ways that people think creatively, and there are tests to help understand the part of the mind that is active and engaged.

1. Convergent thinking

Combining several, sometimes very different pieces of information and finding a solution/thing that connects them. In the RAT test, three words are given and you are asked to think of one word that is related to all three, e.g. cottage, blue, and cake. What word connects them all? How about cheese?

2. Divergent thinking

Starting from a single starting point, several ideas or solutions are developed. In the Torrance test, which includes both picture-based and word-based tasks, the subject is given a time limit and asked to think of as many answers as possible.

3. Insight

The classical "aha" moment when an idea or solution pops out of nowhere. This feeling, defined as insight or epiphany, is the origin of many innovative and groundbreaking ideas throughout history.

Lastly, getting into the flow state must be intentional, highlighting the importance of discipline, desire, and willingness to fail. You have to discover what works for you, which may involve many trials and errors. One of the first steps into getting started is knowing your motivations because reasons reap results. 

Why would you want to be in this state? To answer this, let’s explore the advantages of getting into a creative space while in the flow state.

3 types of creative thinking

The Benefits

1. Stress Relief - Research shows that in the flow state, five essential neurochemicals are released: norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, anandamide, and endorphins. This cocktail inherently reduces stress and increases a pleasurable state.

2. Energy -
Creative expression can increase focus and purpose by focusing on something you like rather than dwelling on problems.

3. Emotional Well-being -
Creativity allows for healthy expression of emotion, critical to positive self-esteem and self-worth. Many therapies, including music therapy, dance therapy, and art therapy, help patients with different emotional disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Working the creative muscle allows people to work out personal issues.

4. Empathy and tolerance -
Art allows people to understand that everyone is unique and different, which creates more compassion and patience and helps absolve inherent narcissism, the idea that everyone is an extension of ourselves.

5. Brain plasticity -
The brain continually reshapes itself to form new connections as new experiences present themselves. Creativity stimulates new synaptic connections, which creates a better-connected mind.

Live your life as an Exclamation rather than an Explanation

Isaac Newton

Conclusion

Pattern recognition and risk-taking are two of the primary ingredients in the creative process. It takes continuous learning, growing, and seizing opportunities to develop new skills and instigate innovative breakthroughs.

So why aren't more people creating things? Part of it is the resistance to take new risks. Anything is possible, and if people can borrow the courage and boldness of their younger selves, they'll be able to tap into their unrealized creative potential. 

Nobody has an excuse to stop learning and growing. The opportunity is always available to develop new skills, often leading to new opportunities and a better self!

If you take one thing away from this post, please know that a growing community supports you online to keep learning, growing, and sharing your gifts with the world.

And remember:

Life becomes brighter rapidly when you start creating and expressing. Get out of the rat race and start getting high on your own supply.

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