Wholehearted Living Guidepost 6: Cultivating Creativity

We have been covering Brene Brown’s guideposts for wholehearted living, and this week brings us to the sixth guidepost. In setting the premise for this series, we had discussed the development of secure attachments in our relationships, and how learning to live a wholehearted life can lead us towards security, connection, and intimacy. This week we are focusing on guidepost six “Cultivating Creativity: Letting go of Comparison.”

Creativity is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships or the likes, to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations… etc. It is often synonymous with words such as inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality and individuality. We often think that people are either creative/artsy or not, but according to Dr. Brene Brown we all have the ability to be creative. She reveals that creativity is important because “the only unique contribution that we will ever make in the world will be born out of our creativity” (Brown, 2010, p 96). Creating gives us a sense of meaning and fulfillment, yet so few of us actually utilize our creativity.

Creativity can be a challenging topic for some because of the many myths that surround it. For example, many people think that we have to be artistically gifted with the ability to draw, paint or play music in order to be considered creative, but that is simply not the case. Many of us tap into creativity all the time and we don’t even realize it. For example, blogging and writing is an expression of creativity; to me it is where I can bring all of my unique ideas, perceptions and experiences together to discuss various topics. Others may use their creativity for photography, treatment planning, making blends of tea, solving problems, expressing themselves through fashion, interior design, hair styling, public speaking, etc. Creativity can be present in everything we do; we just need to learn to tap into it.

Creativity has an arch nemesis and its name is comparison. Comparison is the act of estimating, measuring and observing the similarity and/or dissimilarity between others and ourselves. According to Dr. Brown, it is the thief of happiness. I work with people every day and I get a close look at the damage that comparison can do. We can all recall moments in our lives when we were feeling content, thankful, worthy… etc, and then compared ourselves with others and ended up feeling insecure, not good enough, not skinny enough…etc. Comparing ourselves to others magnifies our insecurities and always leaves us feeling as though we are not enough. Dr. Brown highlights that comparison tells us to “fit in and stand out!” We spend so much of our time trying to conform and compete that we completely lose sight of how important it is to be authentic, unique, creative and grateful. Without the later, we cannot live a life full of meaning and connection, and therefore need to learn how to let go of comparison and develop creativity. Here are a few simple ways we can learn to develop these skills:

Discover your creative outlet.

As previously mentioned, when we are operating out of our creativity, we are cultivating meaning. In order to add value and leave a unique contribution in the world, we have to first begin with our passion and creativity. Personally, writing is where I feel every aspect of my life converge in a unique way; it brings me so much satisfaction to add value and even more satisfaction when I hear the stories of how people are impacted by what I share. Everyone’s creativity or creative process is different; you have to find what works for you and break out of the myths of what we think creativity needs to look like.

Let go of comparison.

Letting go of comparison is one of the most self compassionate acts we can make. Letting go of expectations to be like others and compete them, frees us to actually be ourselves. We are much more likely to succeed and derive fulfillment through being ourselves than by continuing the frivolous pursuit of being someone we are not.  The later is an endless, uphill battle. We will never fill someone else’s shoes half as well as they do and therefore we are setting ourselves up for failure to even try. We cannot fail at being ourselves. We will always be improving and growing rather than just spinning our wheels and seeing no results.

Make time for creativity.

Our lives consist of work, driving the kids to soccer, hockey, dance, school, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, trying to have dates with our partners… and that doesn’t even begin to describe the half of it. For some reason, the first thing we decide to scrap when crunched for time is creativity and creative expression (a close second is exercise). Creativity is important and needs to be made a priority in our lives. When creativity is made a priority it sparks innovation. An extreme, yet great example that comes to mind is the very distinctive model that Google implemented which is now being called “The Google Way”. Google caught on to the notion that their employees have great creative ideas to contribute, and dedicated free time in their week to work on whatever creative projects or ideas they had. This resulted in products such as Gmail and Google news. Carving out time for creativity may be challenging, but the satisfaction, meaning and fulfillment you get out of it far outweighs sacrificing the time.

To close this week, I leave you with a couple of quotes about creativity from great thinkers of the past. I look forward to sharing the seventh guidepost next week “Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth.” As always I would love it for you to share! What are some ways that you have learned to incorporate being creative into your life?

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking” – Albert Einstein

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” – Martha Graham

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” – Erich Fromm

References

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are. Centre City: MN, Hazelden