Celebrating everyday creativity

Author: Leon Jacobs - Executive creative director at Emakina

When we talk about celebrating creativity month, it is all good and well to think about mankind’s grandest creations. Great art, cinema, music and even the mindblowing leaps in science and technology.

We all have our favourites. For me, it is stepping into a great cathedral, or being able to appreciate a masterpiece in person, like Da Vinci’s painting of Lisa Gherardini. I also get the squealies every time a Falcon 9 drops from space like a giant falling candle, to pin itself perfectly in the bullseye of a barge, floating somewhere on the big blue sea.

But here’s a thought: why don’t we use this creativity month to celebrate the countless acts of creativity that are committed by billions of everyday people?

I mean, who needs a clothing iron when you have a pot and boiling water?

Or a colander, for draining your pasta, when you are also a budding Nadal?

No microwave? No problem.

These examples might be funny, but they prove an important point. Creativity is the part of us that engages when life gets hard. When resources run dry and obstacles pile up. That’s when imagination kicks in.

Take this example from the Philippines. Inventor Illac Diaz realised his country has problems generating affordable electricity. Then he had an idea to solve this using sunlight, kitchen chemistry and an abundance of discarded plastic bottles.

Illac Diaz, founder of Liter of Light

Let’s celebrate this kind of creativity. Because it is what makes us human. To make, to invent, is not a mysterious talent that is bestowed only upon a super-class of humans.

If you think about it, it’s how humans (physically a very unimpressive species) got to the apex of life on Earth. With every challenge that came our way, we use our innate creativity to overcome it. If it’s part of our evolution, it means we are all born with it. It’s what makes us different to all the animals. Through our language and imagination we can see what isn’t yet there, and adapt the world to us – instead of adapting to the world.

All we need to do is to cultivate it. There is no magical recipe but here are some ways to promote it in yourself and give your natural creative muscle the best chance to flex.

  • Take long walks. Whether you’re ambling through a city or a forest, on a sidewalk or a beach, solitary walks (with nothing plugged in your ears) will help stimulate your creativity. Don’t trust me, trust science.
  • Get plenty of sleep. The benefits of sleep for overall health have long been established, but they also include the promotion of creativity. Again, don’t trust an adman like me, read what the scientists say.
  • Get out of your routine: Take a different route to work, attend a class in something you don’t think you’d be interested in, go to every museum and gallery you can get to. The more unusual experiences you have, and the more plasticity you introduce in your brain, the better the chances are that great ideas will pop into your head during unexpected moments of low-focus (like those walks, or taking a nice long shower).

It is so easy to feel overwhelmed by the problems and challenges that face us in the modern world. But the reality is that a global culture in which this kind of everyday creativity is promoted can lead to phenomenal change.

The world as a whole can’t be saved by one person, but billions of people can save their patch of the world, bit by bit.

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