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What comes to mind when you think of the word creative or creativity?

If I had to wager a guess, I’d imagine a few of these words popped up: artistic, crafty, unique, eccentric, quirky. Maybe recluse, unpredictable, “dances to the beat of their own drum.” Perhaps you came up with a couple of careers or hobbies: painter, writer, poet, actor, musician, composer, designer.

Am I close? Totally off-base? I’m authentically curious… let me know in the comments.

If I am circling in the general area of what you thought of when I posed the question, you’re probably well tuned into our societal definition of what makes a creative.

And that’s all fine and good, but… it’s only part of the story.

Creative, or creativity, comes from the verb “to create.” While art and the so-called “creative fields” fit into the overall concept, creativity is a much wider concept than any of us might first imagine.

Growing up, as we attend school, we’re defined by our talents and our strengths (and in defining that which is a talent, we are also inclined to believe whatever we’re not called is inherently a weakness). There are the athletes, the academics, the creatives, the jokers. Those definitions are internalized, and become a starting point for how we view our place in society, and how others fit in.

Creative is sorted into a narrow definition.

By the end of elementary school, and certainly into middle and high school, you’ll hear many kids start to say, “I’m creative,” or, “I’m not very creative,” and they are almost always talking about the arts. It is a self-view that will carry on into adult life.

But it’s completely inaccurate.

Part of what I want to do at Of Love + Light is help everyone realize their creativity, enjoy it, nurture it, and own it. We are all creative beings capable of creative expression. It’s just a matter of widening our understanding of what it means to be creative.

The photo at the top of this post comes from my mom’s 1965 Merriam-Webster Dictionary, given to her just before she moved away to college. Interestingly, the online definition at M-W.com that appears today hasn’t changed much.

I want to draw your attention to the 1965 definition of create.

create:

  1. to bring into existence

  2. a: to invest with a new form, office, or rank; b: to bring about by a course of action.

  3. cause, make

  4. to produce through imaginative skill

I would say that most of the artistic fields that may have initially come to mind fit into that fourth definition. But what about the first, the second, and the third? When we expand our definition of creativity or creative to: one who a/brings {something} into existence, or b/brings {anything} about by a course of action, any seed of an idea has the potential to become creativity in action.

Simply put: thinking, followed by action to bring that thought into existence, is creative.

Consider that definition for a moment.

That means founding a business is creative. That means deciding what to make for dinner is creative. That means designing a bridge, running a scientific experiment, coming up with a better spreadsheet, innovating when you don’t have the tools you need, devising a new pathway home—all creative.

There are infinitely more approaches to creativity than there are human beings on this planet. I want to recognize the creativity in you and celebrate it. And I want to help you see it in yourself, encourage you to make time for it, and allow it to express itself through you.

Creativity is more than music and art.

When I was in Benin a couple years back, working on a story about Build a Better Benin, few people I came across could read or write, let alone command a pencil to draw. They couldn’t put together a film, or use a camera. Perhaps they wouldn’t be considered “creative” by initial western standards. But here’s what they could do: sew a dress in a day without a pattern; find ways to communicate across language boundaries (not only with my English and limited French, but between the more than 100 tribal languages within the country); use duct tape to fix almost anything; build an entire village on stilts; balance a couch on the back of a motorcycle to drive it across town.

Let me repeat that last one: balance a couch on the back of a motorcycle to drive it across town, with nothing more perseverance and a role of twine. And we’re not talking about a Harley Davidson or American highways here. We’re talking about decades old, small motorcycles, riding over potholes the size of a semi.

Here’s a photo, not of a couch on the back of a motorcycle, but another vehicle piled higher than one might ever imagine possible. Also notice the steel door on a motorcycle, and the water on the woman’s head up ahead. Creative approaches to transportation are very, very important in a country with limited infrastructure. {Pardon the image quality. It was taken from inside a bumpy vehicle.}

Now *that* takes creativity.

As my dear friend whom I was traveling with likes to say, if Newton and Galileo had spent time in Benin, nearly all their theories of physics would have been thrown out the window.

I had planned to share a couple of anecdotes from my own childhood, about not recognizing—or suppressing—the creative instincts within myself until much later in life, but I think I’ve shared enough for one post, so I’ll save those for another day. Promise.

What do you think? Does this expand your definition of creativity? Or have you always had a wide view of what it means?

What is your first memory of feeling creative, or of feeling as though creativity was something reserved for “other” people? Where would you place yourself now on the creative spectrum?

About A to Z Challenge

This month, I am writing 26 posts starting with the letters A through Z, along with hundreds of other businesses and bloggers from around the world. I first ran into the A to Z Challenge many, many moons ago (circa 2011), when I was brand new to the online writing world. It was a great way to jumpstart my creative juices, and I had so much fun “meeting” men and women sharing what they love to do.

So when I opened Of Love + Light, I knew the A to Z Challenge would be the perfect complement to Daily Dose: Inspired. Enjoy!

About Of Love + Light

Of Love + Light is a place for uplifting media, creative inspiration, art, nifty creative publications, and storytelling. I also offer editing, creativity coaching, and small business communications planning services. Founded by Alana Garrigues, Of Love + Light is your place to come, relax, feel inspired and loved, and share more of what’s good on this beautiful planet.

Of Love + Light has infinite possibilities, and YOU are a huge part of what this will look like. Want to talk? Send me an email!

“Creativity Defined” is the third article in the Daily Dose: Inspired series. Looking for a small something to get you inspired to take on the day? This is the place to come for a photo, a song, a pick-me-up quote, a little slice of happy. At least, these are the things that inspire me!