“I wept because I was re-experiencing the enthusiasm of my childhood; I was once again a child, and nothing in the world could cause me harm.”― Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage
This is part-1 of the two part series on how to be creative like a child.
Children are endlessly curious, creative and express an unhindered enthusiasm for life.
Children make little effort to suppress their natural enthusiasm but as we grow up, we forget this remarkable ability to seek and feel enthusiasm.
Given an opportunity, children do not hesitate to jump right into a creative venture without too much resistance and hesitation and do the best that they can.
As we become older, we get conditioned by well meaning family and society into being guarded and hesitant and essentially lose most of our creative habits.
Every child is a great creator, a pilot in the making, a space traveller and a great naturalist and an emerging Marie Curie or a Pablo Picasso and they make no excuses to embrace the idea that they can do great things with their life.
Children have an infectious curiosity and enthusiasm and love making normal things fun and exciting.
Once you make an attempt to reconnect with the inner child and let go of excessive heaviness and seriousness, you will gradually feel more enthusiasm in common things.
Have you ever wondered how to reconnect with your inner child and rekindle the curiosity?
Here are 20 ways to embrace your inner child and be highly creative:
1. Everyone Is An Artist Inside
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after he grows up.”- Picasso
Every child knows and believes that they are highly creative and can do great things. Children do not approach creativity from the hesitation of disbelief and doubt.
It is no surprise that studies have shown that when asked if they were artists, most children’s hands would shoot up in kindergarten but the number of hands that go up decrease significantly by the time they are in late primary school and then through middle school.
Eventually, most of them do not believe that they are artists and and very few hands go up in class.
Embrace the inner creative power that you had as a child.
Believe that you can again be highly creative.
Choose to be, feel, believe and act like a creative person.
2. There Is No Such Thing As A Bad Or An Unintelligent Question
“Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult, I’ve decided, is only a slow sewing shut.” ― Jodi Picoult
When you were a child, you most likely very curious and asked a lot of questions. But very soon, you discovered that asking questions made you look like you did not know what you were talking about. Adults began discouraging it and your peers were unsupportive.
So you believed that only people who were not intelligent asked a lot of simple questions. You believed that it was “not cool” to ask a lot of questions.
It is ironic that society discourages questions and curiosity when people are children and expects them to be highly creative at the work place as adults.
Become endlessly curious. Ask questions and have a great appetite for learning and discovering new ideas.
There is no such thing as an unintelligent question. Make sure that you understand the problem by asking relevant questions.
Ask: Why, What, Where, How and When to find out some of the basic aspects of the problem.
3. Making Work Creative And Feel Like Play
“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.” – Albert Einstein
Children have a wonderful way to bring fun and play to the most ordinary tasks and to their creative work. Adults have been conditioned to be serious most of the time because their idea of work is quite serious.
Make work fun and infuse laughter and happiness into your projects and life just as you did as a child. When you approach life from the standpoint of having fun, work transforms into play and becomes very enjoyable.
Figure out ways to make your work and your life more fun by including more play.
When you approach your work from the standpoint of enjoyment and creativity, work can transform into play.
Make work feel like play by giving yourself rewards and little incentives and not like something you dread going through.
Celebrate your work and feel great about it!
4. Infectious Enthusiasm And Engagement For Their Creative Projects
“You have to live spherically – in many directions. Never lose your childish enthusiasm – and things will come your way.” ― Federico Fellini
Children have great enthusiasm that is highly infectious. Children are highly excited before, during and after their creative projects and make sure to display them in a prominent place.
They are proud of their creative productions and love to share and scatter their enthusiasm and engagement around.
It comes as no surprise that in preschool, creative projects that children make are displayed on walls everywhere.
As an adult, you may want to recapture some of the enthusiasm and levels of engagement that you had as a child into your creative ventures.
Motivation research has shown that we stay highly intrinsically motivated when we are able to see our projects that we engage in and take all the way to completion and when our projects are displayed or mentioned to be of value.
Approach the next project with enthusiasm, anticipation and excitement.
Display your finished product with belief and happiness, not hesitation and doubt.
Scatter your creative brilliance to touch the hearts of other people around you to facilitate their own creativity.
Engage in your next creative project and see it to completion and make sure that it is launched for the world to see.
5. Possibility Thinking
“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” ~ Master Yoda in the movie Star Wars-Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Children do not quickly rule out something as impossible and usually approach things with a possibility attitude. Perhaps that is the reason why they attempt to try their hand at an entirely new creative project with little resistance.
Adults experience significant amounts of “impossibility” thinking where they rule things out mentally even before trying them out for themselves.
This is a significant disadvantage that adults bear because most of the new stuff has the potential to be rationalized and put away for later or never at all.
Instead of saying “impossible” to most of your creative ideas, say and think that it might be “possible.”
Take a small step towards finding out for yourself if a creative project is for you before mentally dismissing it.
6. Being Non-judgmental With Themselves And Others While Being Creative
“The soul is healed by being with children.”― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Children are able to maintain a relatively non-judgmental focus on their own creative work and on the creative work of others. They have not set up or internalized the judgmental belief systems that gets indoctrinated as we grow up to be adults.
Children are also relatively unaware of the insecurities that adults have about creativity and launching their creative work out to the world. For children, not creating and launching their work for the world to see and enjoy is the non-natural state.
As you grow up, you may become more discerning and label things based on the belief systems that are unique to you. You may also feel very insecure about your creative work and what the world might think about it and hold back instead of letting go.
Become aware of excessive labeling and judging based on what you think is right and wrong.
Reconnect with the inner child and become less concerned with anxieties and insecurities.
Come from an energy of wonder and open choice thinking to allow for your creativity to take root and grow.
7. An Observant Focus: Being In the Present Moment
“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
Children are highly observant by nature. They can see things that adults routinely miss because they deeply look at things and do not just skim over them recalling from memory what it should be and look like.
This is perhaps the reason why children do not get tired with having books read to them multiple times because they are observing or listening for something new.
I love the story that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama sometimes bends down while on his walk and looks at a little flower with a keen sense of wonder and amazement. I believe that he can see the joy and beauty of deep observation without pre-labeling and moving on without enjoyment.
In your living room or your office, sit down and close your eyes and then recall how many things that you remember having observed.
Build keen observation skills by really looking at something and give it a few moments of your undivided attention.
8. Do New Things And Look At Things From Different Perspectives And Angles: Connecting And Combining
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”― Angela Schwindt
Children are naturally great at connecting and combining things and putting them together in new and often interesting combinations. They do not dismiss their ideas just because it is normal way to do things.
As an adult, you may have to re-learn this great creativity idea and keep reminding yourself to include elements that are outside your realm of thinking and beliefs.
Children will put together and make combinations such as:
Tomato ice cream.
Ketchup on strawberries.
Use boxes and other items to very creative outcomes. For example a box can become a car, a plane, a storefront, a boat, a house and so on.
Some of these combinations might seem ludicrous to adults but they abound in creativity. Often, innovation requires re-learning seemingly impossible combinations supercharged by keen observation.
For example, adults might just shake their heads or roll their eyes if their kid puts ketchup on blueberries. But that idea is something that we have ruled out in our minds as adults.
Children cherish and actively cultivate a different point of view. When we become adults, we become wary and hesitant of different points of view because they challenge our pre-existing perceptions.
A big part of creativity is the synthesis of new ideas such as putting notes and glue together to create stick-it notes which has proved to be a great discovery!
Look at things from a new perspective and angle.
Connect and combine different things together to create something of value.
9. The Amazing Beginners Mind
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, In the expert’s mind there are few.” ~ Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki
Children live unapologetically in the present moment and do not keep grasping to the past and future. When children have conflicts, they resolve them very quickly and then they are back to their creative play as if wiping the slate clean and beginning again.
Children also epitomize psychologist and researcher Carol Dweck’s growth mindset where they believe and act like they can constantly learn.
Adults on the other hand become more set in stone about their abilities and often believe that their talents and learning are fixed.
Adults also lose beginner’s mind or a mind that is open to all possibilities without active favoritism and tunnel visioning choices.
When adults see a tree, they actually gaze past it (their idea of a tree) and do not feel or experience wonder or amazement. But when a child with a beginner’s mind looks at a tree, they are still looking at it with awe, wonder and curiosity.
The adult thinks “it is just another tree” and the child thinks “it is a tree to be viewed closely and observed some more and something more to be discovered.”
In Buddhist philosophy, this waking but awareness-asleep state is compared to sleepwalking where the adult is in the present moment but their awareness is not completely here and they skim and skip over things they already know.
Make it a Priority to have the growth mindset and commit to learning something new every day
Be Flexible with your choice and possibilities.
Remind yourself to become more aware of your surroundings in the present moment.
Look at things for a few moments without pre-judgments and notions and enjoy how everything looks like you have seen it for the first time by deep looking.
10. Role Playing and Assuming Personas Easily
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook
Children have the amazing ability to pretend play and assume personas easily. They seamlessly slip from one role to another without thinking about getting caught up in one idea of themselves.
Children can ask and slip into many roles. They can easily assume and think from the perspective of:
- A scientist
- A chef
- A doctor
- A fire fighter
- A super heroine or hero
Children also have imaginary friends that they are able to summon and talk to at will.
As an adult, you may have been boxed-in the role that you have been playing and all your dominant thought processes and actions originate from that role.
The innovation firm IDEO places a lot of importance in the taking up of various personas such as the experimenter and the cross-collaborator in the generation and synthesis of new ideas and processes.
Looking through the lens of another role or persona gives you valuable insights that you may miss while being in your own role.
Assume the roles in your mind of different personas.
Pretend play is a wonderful way to generate creative and new ideas.
Now over to you. Please let me know in the comments below if this post resonated with you. What have you observed about the habits of children that can inspire adults to be more creative?
Read part-2 of this post here!
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