Creativity eludes most of us. It shows up unannounced, and its presence is fleeting. We often think that big creative breakthroughs are haphazard and reserved for a few lucky individuals who have the perfect idea at the perfect time. We feel somewhat helpless with the creative process.
Businesses are increasingly looking for ways to boost the creative capabilities of their workforce. They also recognize that a social climate with a higher tolerance for error provides employees with more latitude and emotional safety to play with radical ideas. Innovation-oriented companies sometimes design quirky and playful external environments that are conducive to thinking outside the box.
However, the source of our creativity lies deep within us. Creativity is largely a subconscious and intuitive experience, which means that our internal environment ultimately determines our creative potential. We may call it our inner workspace. It’s the place within each of us that houses our creative potential.
Here are five concepts to consider as we shift our attention inwards to redesign and more consciously access our personal creative energies.
If we are not artists per se, we may struggle to grant ourselves permission to be creative. Some of us carry a fear of self-expression, which stems from feeling unworthy. Lacking self-love, we doubt that what emerges from us is good and worthy of outward expression.
Yet we are all creative types gifted with the potential to create something meaningful. Creativity is simply the act of conceiving something new, which we do all the time—although we might express our creations in different forms. We put forth policies, research papers, medical cures, jobs, businesses, ideas, etc. The list is as endless as our creative potential.
Creativity is not an active or forceful mental process. Although our physical minds can synthesize existing ideas to generate new ones, creative breakthroughs often happen while we’re in a passive mental state, such as driving a car or taking a shower.
The busy-ness of our work lives locks us into a noisy and distracted state of mental hyperactivity. Regular meditation stills the mind and boosts our creative energy. It creates an empty vessel to receive new creative insight while providing a space to observe and heal the negativity within us that interferes with our creative tendencies.
To embrace passivity, we have to come to terms with our (dated) beliefs about productivity. To many, productivity means being busy. When we meditate or seek stillness, we feel guilty and judge ourselves as being lazy or procrastinating. We tell ourselves it’s impossible to create something out of nothing.
However, that thought is fear disguised as wisdom. More precisely and more truthfully, we create something from a state of nothingness.
The spiritual realm is where every idea, thought, and creative impulse is first conceived before it shows up in our physical world. Cultivating a relationship with the spiritual realm doesn’t have to feel woo-woo. We are simply acknowledging the realm of the invisible.
Our connection with the invisible realm is important because it puts us in touch with the notion of infinite possibility. When we open up to that which we don’t know, we invite our intuition to present us with ideas that are truly groundbreaking. Our experience of creating is suddenly filled with wonder and awe.
Envision that our higher mind resides at the mountaintop where it sees grand possibilities and has sweeping views of the future. When led by that aspect of our existence, we open up to nonlinear thought and tap into our wellspring of genius and creativity.
The forward-thinking capabilities of the physical mind aren’t nearly as “forward” as those of our higher consciousness. Our physical mind resides “down in the valley” and thus has a limited perspective. It was therefore designed to serve our higher consciousness.
As the antecedent of innovation, creativity generates new ideas about what could be. This visionary role is perfectly suited for our higher consciousness. When it’s time to convert our ideas into tangible applications and innovations, our physical mind equips us with linear, rational, and analytical thought processes to plan and implement our creative ideas. We also use our physical minds to identify ideas that have practical and timely relevance to our world.
Business experts frequently advise us to pivot repeatedly on our designs. While frequent course correction is an inherent part of the creative process, a hyper-focus on money and customers—essentially, on our outer circumstances—disconnects us from our authentic creative desires. We lose sight of what we love, which ultimately suppresses our creative energies.
It’s time to shift the business conversation to internal pivots—the twists and turns we experience as we discover what we truly want to create in this world.
Creative passion is neither dutiful nor reckless. We don’t owe it to our egos to prove our worth, nor do we owe it to the world to demonstrate our generosity. We owe it only to ourselves—our true selves—to have fun with what we create.
Our desire to create is connected to our sense of purpose. When we create what we love, we answer our biggest calling. All the while seeding our world with beauty, health, intelligence, practicality, efficiency, humor, and just about anything that makes us flourish.
Self-awareness is critical to unleashing our utmost creativity. As we dive deep into the sea of self-observation, we begin to dismantle our mental and emotional barriers to creative expression. Focusing inwards helps us declutter our internal workspace so we can create from a clear mind, heart, and spirit.
Bianca Finkelstein originally published this article in Fast Company Magazine