It is an unfortunate truth that in the pursuit of making money to cover the high costs of living, much of human innovation is being left on the back burner. As technology takes over every second of our free time, inventing, drawing, writing, and many other creative pursuits are fading. Just Google “creativity is dead” and a long list of blogs, videos, and articles come up about how information (data) overload is hindering our ability to be creative.
According to Arne Dietrich, a professor of cognitive neuroscience, there are four main types of creativity that occur in different areas of the human brain: emotional, cognitive, deliberate, and spontaneous. For example, an emotionally deliberate person may be influenced by their sensitivity and emotions and spend more time deliberating over how to do something. Alternatively, a spontaneous and cognitive individual may come up with a sudden solution to a problem in a dream or while in the shower—a “Eureka!” moment.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
With so many ways of innovating in our day to day lives, creativity is not simply a hobby, it is an exploration in different ways of perceiving the world around us, problem-solving, and enjoying a pastime simply for the joy of it. Getting lost in creative activity (and out of our heads) is like mindfulness meditation. Your brain is focused only on what is in front of you; time disappears.
Surprisingly, inspiration is also born from boredom. That’s why it’s important to let yourself become bored and restless—so you begin to use your own resourcefulness to cure it. It’s also why creativity is suffering—many of us reach for social media to alleviate boredom.
“As long as we stand in our own way, everything seems to stand in our way.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Listening to negative thinking like “I’m not creative” or “I don’t know how to paint in that medium” is self-defeating. In the words of the artist Vincent Van Gogh, “If you hear a voice that says you cannot paint, then by all means paint and the voice will be silenced.” Truly, the cure for negative self-talk is to go ahead and do it. Waiting for that elusive ‘perfect moment’ to begin anything is a recipe for failure.
What is the secret to being an innovator? Be a ninja and kick and punch anything that threatens to get in the way of your creative pursuits—figuratively speaking, of course. If you are a writer, write. If you are a sculptor, sculpt. If you are a teacher, teach. Practice, practice, practice. If you don’t set aside time, turn off social media, and give yourself deadlines and goals, it’s not going to get done. That goes for writing essays and term papers too.
Instead of “time is money” use the mantra “time is art” to define your life. Don’t fall for the illusion that money solves everything. Experience will prove it doesn’t.
So, do the rewards of innovating in everyday life, such as problem-solving, working with tools, and journaling, outnumber the risks of time wasted? Your positive feelings will answer that question for you, in addition to the results of your innovations. We create obstacles to innovation by what we tell ourselves, what we assume about the world around us, and by the choices we make every day. Perhaps a better alternative to scrolling social media is to set aside time for innovative pursuits instead—the world will be a better place for your original work.