The secret to being incredibly creative

Guest post - Filed under Choosing and setting goals, Getting started, Getting to know yourself, Insights


What’s the secret to unleashing your creativity?

I’ll tell you, but it’s not what you think…

by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead

As an aspiring artist, I’ve spent a lot of time trying figure out how to be more creative. I’ve explored the traditional paths to creativity — painting, drawing, playing an instrument, creative writing, poetry, etc. I connected with creative souls; artists, and people living off the grid (away from the mainstream).

Painted in WaterlogueWhile I found this sparked my creative spirit, it only went so far. I was hacking at the branches rather than the root.

To truly tap into your creative nature, you only have to realize one thing…

You are already an artist.

You don’t have to create exquisite sculptures or breathtaking sonnets. You’re creating all the time simply by being alive. Every decision you make, every time you move, breathe, or speak you are creating. In fact, you couldn’t not create even if you wanted to. It’s simply impossible.

Just think about it: you’re the main character in your life story. Each day you develop and further the plot of your masterful performance. You interact with other secondary characters in your story that support your role. These are your friends, your lover, family and coworkers. They’re the supporting actors or actresses in your drama, and they also help mold your life’s narrative.

You can change the course of your story at any time by making new choices and walking down new paths. You can drop a secondary character and choose new ones, if they’re not supporting the story you’d like to create (except, perhaps, family members).

You constantly direct the play called your life; and that makes you a magnificent artist. So if you’re creating your life all the time, wouldn’t it be more empowering to view yourself as an artist, rather than simply a passively living person?

I know you’re thinking, That really doesn’t help when I’m chopping celery or washing the cat… but it does. It makes all the difference.

See, when you know you’re creating artistically, you get more involved in your life. You start to live more deliberately. You wash your cat with love, because deep down, you love him even if he smells terrible. You cut celery with joy, because you’re making the choice to put something healthy in your body.

How to wake your inner artist

So, enough foreplay; here are some practical ways to embrace your inner artist:

  • Work. Are you making choices to further your deepest desires? Are you moving in the direction of your dreams? Much of our lives are spent working, so it makes sense to be conscious of the career we create. Find a career that pays you for being you. You may have to create one if it doesn’t exist.
  • Money. Take a close look at where your money is going. Are you spending your money unconsciously? Are buying lattes and chasing trends keeping you from those yoga classes you’ve been meaning to take? Reevaluate how you spend to live by your own design.
  • Goals. Are the goals you have ego driven, or heart centered? Are they furthering the life you’d love to create? See where you can simplify and remove the clutter to create room for authentic endeavors.
  • Relationships. Are your relationships assisting you in your desires, or holding you back? Or perhaps YOU are holding yourself back. Be honest with yourself and make the necessary changes to fearlessly go with yourself (instead of against).
  • Information. Are you addicted to information? Who’s dictating what you should think, you or the media? Consciously decide the input you accept and discard that which doesn’t serve you.
  • Routine. Most of our days we’d consider normal. A random Tuesday spent watching TV game shows is more eventful than the day your spouse proposed to you. If most of our days are common, it makes sense to make the most out of them. Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing. Be there completely. While doing this, you’ll find that you naturally enjoy those seemingly tedious tasks much more (like washing the dishes). It’s amazing how much non-resistance and presence changes everything.

All life really is, after all, is a collection of stories. But you’re the only one that can create the story of your dreams. It’s your story.

So what do you want to create? A film noir or a fairy tale? You can choose a daring adventure or a comedy. It’s up to you as long as you accept that you’re the artist. You’ve got the brush, it’s up to you to put down the colors you like best.

The question is: What will you create?

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