Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Where Does Creativity Come From?
Copyright Laura A Knauth, All rights reserved.
Please contact me for any usage or licensing options.
Where Does Creativity Come From?
From Wondering.
From asking questions, and pursuing the answers.
"Knock, and the door will open."

Unbinding Yourself
What limits your life options, what crushes your spirit is accepting someone else's limiting beliefs as your own. This is the case for external judgments about you personally, or any 'facts' you accept about life in general.  A little example: If someone says with certainty: "The Egyptians worshiped cats" and you accept their opinion as truth. You've just limited yourself. Some limitations are subtle, some are more obvious; both can have big consequences. As I've been doing historical research for my novels, one of the most valuable skills I've learned (and realized it applies just about everywhere in my life) is to put a mental "in your opinion" after every declarative statement that crosses my path. It's such freedom!
And even for personal matters, this approach applies to critics, bullies, all authority figures alike. Because what if they are wrong? No matter how sure they sound, if you are the one who accepts their incorrect opinion as fact, you are the one who's limited yourself. In my little example, I would digest the statement: "Egyptians worshipped cats" as: Egyptians depicted cats in their writings. It's someone else's interpretation that this involved "worship". That opinion goes in my mental slush pile. (Symbolically, a big bucket of proposals that are not likely to get any of my 'funding,' so to speak.) I might come to the same conclusion, but maybe not, and certainly not by default.

Now, it is still useful to know what everyone else assumes so you can respond effectively to your environment, but that doesn't mean you need to accept their assumption for yourself. To wrap up the example: just what the Egyptians were truly communicating by carving representations of cats remains an open question; it's a placeholder as you continue more research to sort out the rest of the puzzle. (Incidentally, I've become increasingly convinced most of the ancient writings are symbolic, not literal, which makes all the difference … BTW, everything seems to point to an aspect of the development of consciousness, but that's for another blog topic and future novels.)

There's just one small example, but it's shocking to realize how much of the history books, news shows, and all manner of 'common knowledge' are just opinions. Adopting opinions as facts ties you to the status quo. It's fine if the status quo is great, but what if it's gone off track? How can you find a creative solution if you are confining yourself to someone else's false opinions? Your mind loves solving problems, but can't do it if it's cluttered with false associations. So, learn the art of mental digestion: separating facts from opinion, and unleash your creativity!

Mental Digestion
It's not all or nothing. The art of mental digestion is kind of like the process of digesting food. You don't just inject food directly into your veins; even the healthiest food would become toxic if undigested (except apparently for fresh coconut water). Your body transmutes the food molecules from what you ate into something useful to build your cells and discards what it cannot effectively process. The process of mental digestion aught to be the same. Instead, we are raised to memorize every word of text books, injecting the material directly into our minds without filtration, without transmutation. We are strictly graded through school for 100% absorption, as if injecting that content directly into our veins. It's kind of like downloading a program directly from the internet without running a virus scan. Risky!
Copyright Laura A Knauth, All rights reserved.
Please contact me for any usage or licensing options.

Now that I see it in this way, accepting whole heartedly the best known methods of even the most illustrious authority figures, the most revered historical figures, is a risk I can no longer take. If all is well, the extra step of checking everything, of running your own virus scan, might not be necessary, but if you are feeling constrained, uncreative, or things are beginning to go awry, it might be worth a look to reconsider what you had accepted as obvious truth.

We are in an era where authority figures assure us they've checked everything 'for our safety' and therefore the most rational thing we can do is accept their best known methods. I bought into it for so long, but now disagree. I think each person individually is capable of sorting out the best solution for the most important issues that effect their own lives. Medical, financial, career, world view, whatever it is: No approval needed, no waiting for statistics needed. It's a difficult transition process to look to your essential self for support, not external authority figures, but it has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life. Like a tree that has been bound for years 'for safety' to protect it from the high winds, the trunk has become all spindly; now there is a danger when cutting those bindings that the spindly trunk might fall over. It's a gradual process of learning how to reliably depend on yourself, to responsibly strengthen your core. But you have to start somewhere. Bit by bit, from here, forward.

When you are prepared to extract only partially what you hear, identify and deprioritize the opinions, you can safely consider an infinitely wider range of experiences and find some value in them all. (It's true, time and energy is a factor, so it is beneficial to put yourself in scenarios where you expect a high priority return on investment.) It's a challenge; I'm not saying authority figures can't help, but just to be mindful there's some tendency to get boxed in so much that you deprioritize your own authentic judgment. And with this approach you realize that some important tip can come from just about anywhere, so you pay attention, you become more appreciative of more human experiences. Maybe the garbage man, maybe someone posting on their blog, maybe anyone at all knows a health tip that has not yet been formalized by medical science. If your mental digestive fire is strong, you might figure out how part of that tip cap be applied to improve your life. Just saying...

Another example: There are many books I've read while doing historical research that I consider pivotal in shaping my current understanding and helping me frame future novels, but I'm hesitant to share them because I actually disagree with the author's entire premise. ;p  What I monumentally appreciate is the authentic data points those books uncovered. Once I extracted those facts from the author's opinions, I found those books to be immensely valuable. But if I recommend the books here as some of my favorites, people would probably assume I agree with every word or even most words which is not the case at all - doh! I suppose it's like finding the particular piece you were missing; it's not the same for everyone.

By strengthening your own digestive fire to extract more useful data from a wider range of experiences, your creative impulse, your pattern matching skills have such a wider base of useful material to draw from. I have found it greatly improve my own creativity and perspective. This approach also undercuts elitism and values the perspectives of more people. I say that is good. So, if you're looking to boost your own creativity, I recommend these tips to remove artificial limitations, broaden your scope, and let your inner wondering go to work!

Blog Post by Laura A Knauth  

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