It’s time to get creative and think outside the box

As the world gets set to mark International Creativity Month in January, find out how you could get more creative in your life

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With so many occupations, industries and vocations in the world, the truth is, we can’t all have creative jobs. But just because you can’t be a full-time artist, actor or writer, doesn’t mean you can’t engage in creative thinking.

Even jobs that aren’t necessarily creative in nature demand a spark of innovation, creative thinking and collaboration. In fact, you’ve probably heard phrases like ‘think outside the box’ and ‘brainstorm’ in your place of work.

Hoping to inspire more people to look at things differently and consider ways they can be more efficient and inventive, International Creativity Month is held in January every year. Encouraging individuals and organisations to take a fresh approach to problem solving and embrace positivity in making changes, the month has become more significant in recent years.

So, what benefits could you experience by embracing creativity?

Embracing change

“It is important to consider alternative ways of thinking about things as it often leads to important solutions to real world problems,” says Dr Adrian Harrison, psychologist at KidsFIRST Medical Centre in Khalifa City.

“For example, it was said that Albert Einstein was creative and had his best ideas whilst shaving. Sometimes thinking in a narrow way can hinder us from solutions.”

According to a recent study by US software company Adobe, a total of 80 percent of workers in the UK and US reported that they feel pressure to be productive rather than creative at work.

However, this trend seems to be gradually changing as companies are increasingly realising the importance of allowing employees to find time to be creative.

One example of a company embracing this forward-thinking trend is Google, which famously launched the 20 percent project, dedicating a fifth of their employees’ working week to projects that are a personal passion, boosting both internal innovation and employee morale.

“Ignoring pre-existing knowledge and tackling a task in a new way can be the start of creative genius,” continues Dr Adrian.

“Research by Gilhooly, Georgipu and Devery has suggested that when working on a creative task, working on something very different from the main task for a period of time can help you with your problem solving.”

It’s easier said than done: you can’t click your fingers and suddenly be creative and come up with good ideas. But small changes can make a big difference to the way you think.

“Creativity is linked to uniqueness; often all we need is the permission to be different and explore alternatives,” advises Dr Adrian.

“What we can learn as adults who may not be in a profession that encourages creativity is to try and embrace the fun and unexpected.”

Express yourself

Without getting too complex, the brain is made up of two sides. The left side deals with functions including logic and reasoning, while the right side deals with functions including intuition, imagination and, you guessed it, creativity.

We might not all be employed in creative jobs but there are a number of areas in our lives where we can think more creatively and try to express ourselves to engage the right side of our brain. After all, creativity is all around us.

“In our daily lives, it may not be expedient to have creative thoughts but invariably there will be an area in your life where you have the space, authority and desire to be creative, for example poetry, hairstyle or creating a new meal for dinner,” adds Dr Adrian.

Everyone is different and sometimes creativity comes more natural to some people than to others, but we can all benefit from allowing a little spontaneity in our lives to break free from old routines.

So how can you start to be more creative in your day-to-day life as part of International Creativity Month?

“Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to be creative,” notes Dr Adrian.

“When working with parents I ask them to have fun. Sometimes they reply ‘What do you mean?’ I say, get down on the floor with your kids, make a mess, follow your child’s lead in their play and be creative.

“For me, creativity is starting something without knowing how it will end. Try it and see what happens.”

WORDS Colin Armstrong
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