Childlike creativity: Nurturing Your Creative Mindset
Posted May 05 2010 5:52pm
When I was a child I was always trying to act as grown up as possible. I stifled a lot of my exuberance and creativity to fit in with my family and friends, and to be a good student. My parents’ friends called me ‘Little Old Cathy.’
Is all that innate playfulness and creativity lost or is it something we can reconnect to as adults? Sherri Fisher writes about this in her article Nurturing Your Creative Mindset, excerpted here:
Do you ever wish you were more creative? New research has shown that adults can be primed to become more creative simply by being asked to think like children.
There are many kinds of creativity, including flexible thinking, elaboration of existing ideas, fluency of ideas, and originality.
For the purposes of the study conducted at North Dakota State University, college students were asked to imagine and write about what they would do if school was canceled for the day.
In the experimental condition, they were primed in advance of writing to imagine that they were seven years old. Merely being primed to think like a child resulted in the production of more original responses on a subsequent measure of creativity.
Perhaps, when I sit down to write, I’d actually be more productive if I could be less careful, less concerned with following the rules. Is there something about the educational process itself that taught me to be so concerned with convention?
What Happens to Creativity as We Grow?
There are numerous benefits to being more creative. However in school, creativity is usually valued less than conventional thinking, whether you are a student or a teacher.
It may be that formal education discourages divergent thinking, and that school may also coincide with a natural brain development shift in students from more impulsive and less self-conscious thought to less spontaneous and more rule-bound thought.
Since both ways of thinking are important (imagine if we were all child-like all the time), it is intriguing to think about interventions that would enable you to be more creative at least some of the time.
You might try thinking like a 7-year-old right before you have to do something that requires original thinking.
Even if our own historical 7-year-old self was already hampered by conventions from culture and family, there may be an internal image of an untouched child inside us that can inspire and invigorate our creative lives.