Creativity is not Productivity… Creating Can Involve Just “Being”
As someone who researches positive psychology, I know the impact using our strengths* can have on our happiness and wellbeing. Research** has shown if people focus on developing and using strengths rather than trying to change perceived weaknesses, it can help them to flourish and live fulfilling lives. But within that, we must also learn to use our strengths in a way that supports our wellbeing. Last week, I was reminded of how my top strengths, Creativity and Love of Learning, can also conflict with each other. In particular, my Creativity can need me to just “be” while my Love of Learning requires me to “do”.
My Best Ideas Happen Through Not Trying
My Creativity manifests through writing and being innovative in my work. I love to write as ideas come to me. It’s the way I learn to understand myself and the world around me. This rarely happens when I am sitting at a computer. My best ideas come when I am out running or in nature. This has become such a theme I now take a pen and a sheet of paper with me when running. Any ideas can then fuse when I am back at the computer. This is not just reflected in my writing… it is everything; Topics for academic papers, an idea for a blog, how I want to solve a problem for a client.
We Must Rest Even When We Enjoy Our Work
Last week I was starting my literature review for my dissertation while also working on a client proposal, both of which I found interesting and engaging. I am passionate about and will happily spend hours on each. The problem is I need to remind myself to relax afterwards. Not because I feel I am under pressure to do more from others but because my mind loves to learn and wants to keep working and exploring interesting topics.
My mind fought every moment of my yoga class on Saturday wanting to “do” more. But if I allow my mind to win, it gets tired and my creativity suffers. My mind clearly doesn’t know how to look after its own wellbeing. If I continue to work, I write less because my mind is not rested enough to “hear” the new ideas. Wanting to learn, work and be creative in life is both beautifully enriching and a careful balance. Too much of one burns out potential for the other.
Knowing The Benefits of “Being” Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy
Given the topics I research, I know how important it is to look after my mental and physical wellbeing. I know the science behind the necessity for rest, physical activity and a daily mindfulness practice. I also know when you are passionate about what you do in life it can be hard to achieve a balance. We are human, not perfect and having the knowledge does not necessarily mean we get it right daily. I get better as I get older, but I am still constantly reminding myself to slow down.
Wellbeing Is a Pathway to More Creative Solutions in Life and Work
Why do I tell you this? We know looking after our own wellbeing can lead to more fulfilling lives and from a corporate perspective, more productive and engaged employees. Productivity should not be the only end goal. A greater focus on wellness individually and in work is an enabler of creativity in whatever form that takes. Creativity has the potential to be a significant contributor to business, life and arguably the planet itself. We have many problems to solve and old ways of “doing” things are unlikely to deliver. Creative solutions help us deliver in less time, be innovative and help differentiate ourselves versus the competition. That brilliant idea a team has been searching for is more likely to come from the employee who takes a run at lunch than the employee who works through lunch.
Creativity may be a signature strength of mine, but it needs to be nurtured and cared for. To let it shine, I must remember to sometimes “do” as little as possible.
#creativity #Morebeinglessdoing #strengths #positivepsychology #wellness #wellbeing #rest #innovation #selfcompassion #mindfulness #meditation
*www.viacharacter.org – Check out your top strengths here
** Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Values in action (VIA) classification of strengths. In VIA manual (pp. 4–33) ocked0 Me