I am starting a month of reflection around VIA Character strenghts so let’s talk about the first one. Creativity can oftentimes be associated with weaknesses, not strengths. It is however really stimulating and fun to do things in a new way, follow new patterns, do things differently. I often judge myself as “naughty” when instead of following rules, I hack the solution out of my reality. Breaking rules is part of our human nature. When we do it at the right time and effectively, we arrive at new conclusions. There is nothing wrong about thinking outside of our own box and we really should celebrate it. 

I love watching my son play computer games. I got this when he was testing his first Super Mario game a few years ago. Instead of driving directly in the middle of each racing path, he would purposefully bump into the edges of it to find shortcuts. It is a well-known phenomenon in game design: we like to complete a level and then repeat it but this time with additional options of pre-designed cheats. We feel more achieved by completing our small virtual challenges this way.

So why can we not do it in IRL (in real life)? I think we should blame our education and upbringing. We are raised to think that creativity is a starting point of rebellion. My son’s first day at school needed with one significant discovery: he had an allocated spot to sit on on the floor. While I was heartbroken that the school was already on the day one boxing him into an allocated place, my son felt actually special and important. I had to work really hard to explain to him that the real privilege is to have the freedom to move between different places or maybe even run freely without disturbing others. 

If creativity can be a strength too and can lead to emotional resilience how can we identify it and nurture it? I think there are many simple ways, but here are my personal favourites:

  1. Doing something slightly out of the ordinary – something really easy like getting off a stop earlier and walking a bit more on a sunny morning allowing yourself more time to simply enjoy reconnecting with the environment Playing games – we love playing Fluxx because the game itself is about changing rules, but I think any game (offline or virtual) improves our ability to relax into doing new things. 
  2. Getting back to art basics – paper, scissors, flowers, paints or any other traditional art materials. My therapist asked me the other day to make a collage as homework and even though I was initially tempted to use iPad’s Moodboard app, I was advised to use paper cutouts instead. That took me directly to the child in me and opened up a lot of fun memories from my childhood. 
  3. Making new types of food – growing herbs and seasoning your dinner slightly differently is very simple yet can be so powerful to all our senses! Venturing out to a few local stores and buying a new ingredient, making a new meal and simply enjoying the new sensations can be fun for us, and for our family. 
  4. Creating new rituals or changing routine – small silly jokes or home rituals can be super easy on a  good day and very useful on a cloudy day. We have a few, for example making a Mexican wave over dinner – just to stop and remind ourselves about the importance of that own evening family meal. If you get into the habit of it you might notice new fun rituals emerging on their own – we humans are wired for viral ideas. YouTube videos are just the tip of the iceberg! 
  5. Using tech and social media differently – setting up or joining an Instagram challenge can be a lot of fun, joining a blogger carnival and exploring a new topic or recording few new street music videos to share with online friends – all of it is easy to do in today’s world. Sharing your experiences with friends can also be really rewarding. I also think doing this time to time helps us reevaluate the importance of social media channels and possibly adjust our habits.

That’s all I can think of now. What are your creativity tips? What is your definition of creativity as a strenght? Let me know! 

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