How Challenging Times Can Support Creativity.
2020 will easily be remembered as one of the most challenging years on record.
Marked by droughts, bushfires, Coronavirus lockdowns, travel restrictions, floodings, and the tragic murder of George Floyd.
As a result, many people sadly lost businesses, homes, and loved ones.
Over the last few centuries, even with advances in technology and creature comforts, global societies today have ever-increasing rates of stress. Much of this stress is caused by the destruction of the natural environment—resulting in a growing sense of separation people feel from nature, and also, their own nature within themselves.
While the purpose of both the natural environment and human beings is creative, not destructive, this growing loss of connection with the natural world leaves a spiritual deficit that cannot be balanced in the material world.
Throughout the Coronavirus outbreaks, and onward, many people have experienced their own versions of crisis. Without doubt, the time is ripe for exploring and digging deeper as to how society as a whole arrived here.
Personally, COVID-19 supported my own quest for meaning and truth. The stress of all my rushing in life was drawn under the spotlight during the lockdowns. Then, through exploration, I devoted myself to what makes me feel most alive.
Inspired, I scheduled an art retreat at a pristine eco-community deep in nature on Noosa’s Sunshine Coast—sharing my passion for meditation, chi-kung, nature immersion, painting, art therapy, sound healing, and organic food.
People literally came alive, becoming sparkly-eyed and bushy-tailed. Personal obstacles were overcome by painted visionary art in the company of like-minded souls and through connecting to the wonder of deep nature.
It is through a creative response that innovation is made possible, where answers to the challenges of our society will arise.
So how is it possible to support the creative process?
Common Blocks to Creativity
Whilst the truth is that every single person is already creative, there are some common blocks that obstruct creativity:
>> Pursuing perfection
>> Fear of failure
>> Distorted value
Overcoming Creative Blocks
People often like to choose safety over risk. Since the brain is wired to avoid pain and discomfort, it takes courage to move toward what inspires you and makes you feel alive. Take risks in incremental amounts. Dare, be bold, and act on your creative dreams every day. Even if it is for five minutes. The more you apply yourself consistently, even if you encounter some hurdles, the more successful you’ll be. This will build your confidence and give you all the energy you need to keep going.
There’s always someone else better at what you’re inspired by. They’ve put in the time and are enjoying the rewards. Rather than comparing yourself with their magic, focus on expanding the joy in what you’re here to create. If it helps, celebrate people who inspire you; ask them how they got to where they are. But most of all, deep dive into your own creative potential. There’s a whole universe inside of you full of treasure just waiting to be unearthed. This is about the magic in you!
Perfection simply doesn’t exist. Aim for excellence and make all the mistakes you like! There’s no better place to be than in the midst of a creative mess. To live your dreams, you’re going to have to get used to being in the mud and compost where life is most fertile. This is where the creative fuel of your dreams live. Prepare for the smelly, sweaty, and bloody work of giving birth to what you value; there’s nothing quite like it. Once you deliver your creative baby, it’ll all make sense!
Fear of Failure:
There is no such thing as failure, unless you give up entirely. Each time you miss the mark, you learn what doesn’t work. Any vessel on route to its destination goes off course thousands of times. Correction to a vessel’s direction is frequent before arrival to the destination. Rather than viewing disappointments and mishaps as failures, practice learning from them and even enjoying them. Failures are allies for growth in creative endeavours.
Be wary of criticism—your own and that of others. Always celebrate your achievements and give yourself a healthy dose of pride. Every brave effort in the face of adversity counts! Critics, both inner and outer, drag you down without encouraging your efforts and strengths. Distinguish unhealthy criticism long before it disables you. Develop a thick skin that repels criticism like water off a duck’s back. Do this by focusing on the aliveness that comes with applying yourself to your creative work.
There are countless ways to avoid what you truly care about. Distraction is anything that takes you away from a life of purpose and meaning. Explore what drives your own distractions. Dare to unplug even for a moment. Can you be still enough to find the riches inside your empty spaces? You’ll be amazed at what you find!
In indigenous societies, the practice of vision questing closely links them to their values. Your values determine the direction of your life. As you uncover your values, you can access your creative potential. Through stillness and focused intention, clarity emerges, which enables the discovery of your values.
Benefits of Creativity
By being creative, a person develops the courage to take risks. Stretching beyond comfort zones and familiarity, a sense of aliveness results. This builds confidence.
At the height of creativity, an individual enters into a flow state, which is known as a highly engaged and productive state that appears to transcend time and space. These kinds of experiences have remarkably positive impacts on a person’s biology, psychology, and spirit—improving memory, motor skills, cognitive awareness, endurance, and personal relationships.