What Children Can Teach Us About Creativity

Happy child with painted handsIt took me four years to learn to paint like Raphael and a lifetime to learn to paint like a child. – Pablo Picasso

Children naturally express their creativity up until about the time they start school. That is the beginning of the end for most people’s imagination. Schools, committed to conformity and standardization. leave little room for the freedom of spirit and unique expression that is key to creativity.

Reclaiming our child like sense of innocence, play, curiosity and wonder is a good place to begin exercising our creative muscle. Watching children is a great way to grasp these basics at the heart of being creative. Consider the power of doing things children do naturally, like asking questions, creative play, daydreaming, fearlessly engaging a project and using the imagination.

Curiosity is an essential element. Children ask questions about everything and they tend to question everything. Being curious opens us to possibilities rather than operating from preconceived ideas about what is possible and what’s not. Asking questions also invites our subconscious mind to play increasing our creative capacity and ability to problem solve.

Play is another way to enhance our creativity and learning. Lightning up and not taking things so seriously can increase the flow of ideas. A willingness to play with the process is critical since this is the only way we can learn what works and what doesn’t. This is how children learn.

Closely linked to play is engaging a project without fear or concern for outcome. Young children live very much in the moment and they experience the joy to diving into something with no concern for how it’s going to turn out. If we are concerned with doing it right or trying to control the outcome we kill the creative flow.

Letting our mind wander or daydreaming has actually be scientifically shown to be a high level brain function that expands the mind and relaxed the body. When we do this our minds are in a relax, receptive state that allow for inspiration to flow. Children often drift off as if lost in a meditative trance. Giving ourselves permission to daydream can feed our creativity.

Children are masters at using imagination or playing “just pretend”. When we use our creative abilities we tap into an expanded way of knowing and being. Imagination is clearly one of the ways we do this and the more we exercise it, the stronger the connection becomes. We have been taught to dismiss our imagination as if we are “making it up” and it has no consequence or importance. Yet Albert Einstein insisted that “imagination is more important than knowledge” and people using their creativity know the power of using this natural gift.

The challenge to reclaiming our creative gifts that we have been largely schooled out of, is the lack of cultural support and permission. In order for all of us to engage our creativity there needs to be an atmosphere where it’s okay for everyone to be creative rather than holding the assumption that it’s the domain of a select few. We also need to understand that it is a process that can be learned and that as children we naturally played in this realm. Some part of us knows how.

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