Made lunch out of the leftovers found in the fridge. Talked your co-workers into agreeing on a solution to a client problem. Tweeted a wry observation about last night’s episode of “Nashville.” While it may sound like any other day, all of these instances are examples where you’ve flexed your creative muscle. And, like any other muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets, giving you an edge at home, at work and in social situations.
A lot of people have misconceptions about what “being creative” means, which makes it hard for them to tap into their full potential. Here are six major myths about what creativity is—and how to bust them to let your imagination break free.
Myth #1: I’m not creative.
Hear the word “creativity” and feel a shiver of dread up your spine instead of a spark of inspiration deep in your belly? It doesn’t mean you lack imagination, only that it’s been hidden somewhere along the way. “Everyone has the capacity for creativity,” explains David Goldstein, an artist, creativity consultant and co-author of “Creative You,” a book that explores the connections between creativity and personality. “But what usually happens is that their imaginations gets shut down in early childhood. For example, a five year old will paint the sky purple because she thinks it looks pretty, but if someone criticizes it or laughs at it, she’ll quickly learn to stop following or trusting her creative impulses.”
Luckily, for those of us still scarred by awful art class memories, creativity doesn’t require a paintbrush—or an A+ from an art teacher.
Myth #2: Creativity = Art
“Recognizing your natural creativity is the first step in enhancing it,” says Goldstein. Just because you’re not a poet or a painter doesn’t mean you aren’t creative. Are you a pro at putting good conversation partners together at dinner parties? Do you always seem to know the right thing to say at occasions where the people around you are tongue-tied? Then your creativity manifests itself in relationships. Maybe you’re as good as any trainer at the gym at putting together a fun and rigorous workout routine. That’s creativity, too. Swept up by 3-D films? Starting a blog about the subject can give your imagination a chance to soar.
Myth #3 Creativity is frivolous.
When you’re swamped, you’ve got to keep your head in the game, not in the clouds, right? Not exactly. Taking a mental break from a particularly pressing problem by indulging in creative play can help you come up with more solutions when you finally do get back to work, says Goldstein. Not only that, but studies have found creative expression is linked to stress relief, better physical and emotional health, higher self-esteem and even better sleep.
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