Creativity is one of those things — like math skills — that people think they’re either blessed with at birth or forever lacking. What a burden we place on ourselves! The truth is, with practice and intention, creativity can be welcomed and encouraged to grow. Here are a few quick ways to use your creativity to brighten up the everyday and add a little sparkle and brain-exercising fun:
1. Change up your usual routine.
I know, I know, we’ve worked super hard to build those habits and there’s no way we’re going to fuss with what works. I’m not saying you should sacrifice your healthy habits for the sake of shaking things up a bit. Don’t mess with the framework of your day. Instead, look at the existing routines. I can add creativity to my supper menu by checking out some new — but easy! — recipes. (And, honestly, if I didn’t consciously do this, we’d be having taco Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday….) How about altering your route on your afternoon commute home? Or when you pick up the children, stopping for a 20-minute hike at a local park? These little breaks keep us from falling into a rut, and go a long way toward fostering creative play during normal daily routines.
2. Screens off before bed.
Instead, grab an actual paper book. No temptations to hop from click-to-click (Ever fall down the rabbit hole on Wikipedia? Yeah, me neither…) A couple of pages each night will get you through that book you’ve been meaning to read. Or even that beautiful magazine with the photos so lovely you could lick the paper? A word of caution, here, though: Keep the content on the light side. I tried to read The Iliad before bed and had bad dreams. So. Much. Killing. Save the suspense for daylight!
3. Keep a notebook.
Again, with actual paper, if possible. The Bullet Journal community members do incredible things with a pen and a notebook, enjoying flexibility that’s hard to find with a single app. BuJos also have a built-in organizational indexing system so you won’t lose your grocery list even if it’s nestled into a series of to-do lists and favorite quotes. You can get fancy, but any dollar store notebook will work, too. (And sometimes, those are the most fun to alter, beat up, collage, and remake!)
4. The What-If Game.
This one is especially fun with children. They go bananas. Teens may resist for a while, but keep at it. (And keep your notebook handy; you’ll be surprised how nonsense play may percolate a solution to a real-life problem!) In the car, in a waiting room, in a restaurant before the food arrives, suggest a situation that’s way out there. “What if, when the waiter brings our food it all turns out to be made of cake?” “What if a kangaroo hopped across the road ahead of us?” “What if we go into the exam room and the doctor remodeled it into a bouncy house? How would she listen to your heart with the stethoscope? She’d have to bounce right next to you!” Beware. This game may have unintended results. You may decide, just this once, to order nothing but cake for dinner 🙂
5. Creative Declutter.
When the holes or pills on your favorite sweater finally get to the point of no return, it’s time to let it go. But if the sight or touch of it still brings you a spark of joy, think of some ways to repurpose it. Set a timer, though, or you may slide down the slippery Pinterest slope. Your beloved sweater can begin its second life as a soft pouch for sunglasses or makeup, a decorative pillow for the sofa, or a swanky jacket for the terrier. Warning: do not use this exercise to justify hanging on to things that no longer bring you joy or benefit. In those cases, imagine the blessing of passing it along to someone who will really love the item, or the satisfaction of making room for the creative life you want.
Many times we think in all-or-nothing terms. To live a creative life, we don’t have to go total Bohemian. Creativity can sprout in the smallest nooks of our routines, and bring light and fun to every day. Try these activities. I’d love to hear your What-If Game antics!
Update: I played the What-If Game with a group of preteens last week, and we ended up with a story about a zombie potato monster, a girl named Abby and a dog, Sally, who just wanted a plate of tacos…
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