Creatively Constipated? 3 Ways That Play Can Clear That Right Up

Creatively Constipated? 3 Ways that PLAY can clear that Right Up

By Alissia Thompson, LCPC

Have you ever had the experience of being under deadline? There you are, sweating the minutes of the clock ticking by, desperately searching for a great (or even mediocre) idea to put forth before you turn into a pumpkin. The pressure is on-you have to produce, yet your imagination has gone into lockdown. Nothing is happening. Your creative flow is effectively backlogged. You feel frustrated, fatigued, and fed up. Yes, you’re creatively constipated. The ideas are stuck. You push harder, but that only seems to make things worse. Now the panic sets in. The clock keeps ticking. How will I get it done?

Creativity is a vital life force-one that I contend brings us closer to the Divine-but is also equal parts stubborn. Sometimes it just doesn’t want to cooperate, much like nature on occasion (see Chicago winter this year).winter So does that mean we go into hibernation until it passes? Recently someone reminded me that inspiration is for amateurs. He suggested that we design our own conditions to create. So let me ask you: when it plunged into the double-digit negatives in January, did you: a) focus your energies on trying to change the temperature, or b) simply put on more layers, to keep yourself warm and safe?

We can’t change the weather, and we can’t force creativity. What we can do, however, is lay the foundation for those conditions that lend to creativity. Just like we can put on an extra top to stay warm, we can take measures to effect creativity where we have influence-and that is in our actions. We can choose to act in ways that are conducive to our creativity. This is where play comes in. Play is an equally Divine life force to creativity that can be considered its right-hand (wo)man. Put into action, play can supercharge creativity, and alleviate that painful, anxiety-provoking constipation. Play and creativity are a 1-2 punch! Here’s how:

1)      Play does a body good. When we play, we send a beautiful chemical called endorphins cascading through our bodies, which makes us feel really good. It relaxes us and makes us feel happy and euphoric. When we play, we set our bodies up for creative receptivity, unlike stress and its chemical counterpart, cortisol. Play really is healthy, and puts us in the mood for creating.

2)      Play clears our minds. Research in rats shows that play enhances memory, improves problem-solving abilities, and actually builds a bigger brain! While not much research to date has been compiled on humans, study after study suggests that us humans are influenced much the same. A playful brain is a sharper brain. A sharper, more relaxed brain is apt to be more creative than that of a dull, overwhelmed brain. We actually need play to stay focused!

3)      Play reduces stress. I know I touched on it above, but stress really is a killer and deserves mention of its own. When we’re stressed, not only are our bodies flooded with erosive neurotransmitters (like cortisol), but we literally contract. Our minds go into tunnel vision, our bodies grow tense, and our spirits disconnect from the Infinite. How conducive is this state to creation? I used to throw a ball around with some of my staff when we were brainstorming/problem-solving, and it took the edge off the process. Ideas flow when stress is low.

Whether faced with a deadline or simply aiming to complete a creative project, try using a little play when you start to feel all stopped up. See how moving around a bit, lightening up, and having a little fun influences the process. Play can be so transformative; unfortunately not enough of us leverage this as part of our healing repertoire. Not you, though. I know you see it; and I know you’ll play long.

 

alissiajayneAbout the Author: Alissia Thompson is a psychotherapist and teacher whose work is to transform individuals and organizations through play. She offers workshops and individual sessions on the importance of play as part of personal development. You can learn more about Alissia at www.alissiajayne.com.

 

 

How Do You Come Up With The Next Big Idea?

fresh idea

How do you come up with the next big idea and then make it happen?

One of my favorite books on creativity, Genius: A Crash Course on Creativity (HarperCollins 2012) comes from Stanford Professor Tina Seelig.  She loves to work with creative teams, to explore what makes people more innovative, and to find ways to stimulate ideation.   The result is her “innovation engine,” a special mix of six characteristics: attitude, resources, knowledge,culture, habitat and imagination.

In her book, Seelig describes two young entrepreneurs with an idea: an iPhone app for sharing your location with your friends. The product wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped, so they kept adding features to see if they would increase the popularity of the app. One new feature enabled people to use their cell phones to shoot photos and quickly edit and post them. That feature was “a huge hit,”  and they saw membership rise to one million users in two months. A year later, there were 12 million users.  Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger,  sold their company, Instagram Inc., to Facebook for $1 billion.

According to Seelig creative people see through a different lens.” Truly creative people “are quilt makers — they can fit anything together.”

Really creative people frame and reframe problems. Look from different perspectives and combine  in surprising waysChallenge assumptions. Pay attention and have the confidence they can solve the problem.

In Seelig’s Innovation Engine model, attitude, knowledge, and imagination overlap and are internal skills because they reside in the mind, whereas culture, habitat, and resources are of the outside world. Culture, habitat, and resources influence the process by which imagination catalyzes the transformation of knowledge into ideas. Thus the individual and the environment are interdependent  and essential for creative problem solving.                                   041712.Tina.Seelig.Color.Innovation.Engine
To create the external environment that supports creativity and innovation you need to address the following:

What does your physical space look like? Is it fun, free flowing, stimulating?

Does your organization have  rules, rewards and incentives that encourage innovative thinking?

How does management deal with failure? Does it encourage failure as data and feedback?

How do you leverage multiple resources including people, community, nature and financial?

Seelig concludes  “ we have the power to overcome challenges and generate opportunities of all dimensions…It’s hard to get beyond obvious answers,” “It takes work and commitment to get beyond the first, second, and third waves of ideas to get to the ones that are really interesting.”

 

Closing The Creativity Gap

creativity intelligence having fun

Closing The Creativity Gap

Are you  living up to your creative potential?

In 2012 Adobe released a report that said:

 

  • 8 in 10 feel that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth
  • Only 1 in 4 believe they are living up to their own creative potential
  • 75% said they are under growing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work
  • 70% of Americans feel creativity is being stifled by the education system
  • Only about half of Americans would describe themselves as creative while the global average is even lower at 39%.

So, what can we do to close the creativity gap?  First, our schools need to foster out of the box thinking as well as provide the necessary technology tools and training. We need to establish cultures that encourage play, day dreaming, exploration and experimentation.

Second,we need to expand our definition of creativity. Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.”Robert E. Franks.It is not the domain of artists and professional designers. It is a mindset and a skill  that can be developed.

Next, productivity and creativity should not be mutually exclusive – we all need to find ways to create at work.   It’s a critical capability in a successful society. To close the creativity gap you need to:

  1. Surround yourself with happy colors, images and things that inspire and stimulate you.                                                                                                               Jean MacDonald
  2. Put a” what if” white board in your common space.
  3. Have an idea challenge of the month that encourages everyone to contribute ideas ( no idea is stupid)
  4. Give employees time to work on their own pet projects and initiatives
  5. Meet in unusual places
  6. Create mastermind brainstorming teams that meet regularly to brainstorm key issues
  7. Keep a coloring book at your desk and challenge yourself to make each page different.
  8. Share your passion.
  9. Join Chocolate, Creativity and Connections.

Make time once a month to tap into your personal creativity.

What have you done to close the creativity gap in your life?

Creativity For Social Change

 

Creativity For Social Change                                                                                                                                                                    be the change

 

 I came across this powerful video today, that is the epitome of using creativity for social change. Some brave individuals risked their lives to document human rights atrocities around the world. Because of them things have changed in their countries, some of the worst offenders have been prosecuted..stories have been told that we needed to hear and see. Everyone has the ability to make a difference. Instead of complaining and whining why doesn’t someone do something about a problem… become part of the solution.  Create a legacy that you will proud of. Please take the time to watch this short video and pass it on. You are more powerful then you think.

 

upworthy.com

I would love to hear about other projects that use creativity for social change.

Have the Courage to Follow Your Heart

                                                                                                                                                        have the courage to follow your heart

When I heard the whisper that said you need to interview 100 leaders. I was terrified. “What do I know about leadership” Why would people speak to me? All the doubts and fears popped into my head. But I felt this calling. So I tapped into my courage. I felt the fear and did it anyway. I have this passion to hear other people’s stories of inspiration and courage. I believe that we all have a back story that is intricately woven into our calling. It tells us what wounds may be waiting to be healed. For artists and writers it can dominate their work. It is often the catalyst for our destiny and legacy.

 I was always interested in other people’ story to the embarrassment of my children. No matter where I was, the football game, the grocery store I would talk to the people in line, the cashier. I would have their life story in ten minutes. Too often we don’t share what is important to us because we are embarrassed and ashamed. I know I did not share my past. You did not talk about sexual abuse. I was afraid if you knew the real me you would reject or abandon me. “Go running for the hills” But I learned through counseling, 12 step work, personal development, that is was imperative I share my truth. I understand now everyone wants to be seen, heard and understood. That is the basis of the Winning Adventure: Change leaders, lead the world. To create change you need passion, purpose and a profound desire to make a difference.You need to tap into your courage and share your unique vision.

The first person I interviewed was Connie Lee. We met on the internet. Linkedin is a wonderful tool to find like-minded people doing inspiring work. Here are some excerpts from our interview.

Rae: I would love to hear about your winning adventure.

Connie: I grew up in an abusive home.  I married a very nice guy but he ended up being an abusive person. We divorced and then 25 years later I put my kids though school and put myself through college. Then I had this dream.  I woke up at 1 am with this vision for FACSA, doing an NBC show and writing petitions to change pedophile laws. This is how the FACSA Foundation began.

The FACSA Foundation (Family and Friends Fighting Against Child Sexual Assault) is an all-volunteer organization. At home we provide attorneys and counselors for children of sexual assault and their families, we provide guidance and resources, we provide a support group and we do a lot of community education and prevention as well. We have some programs called the “Good Touch-Bad Touch Program. We have created a virtual art exhibit highlighting different artists and musicians. We call it the Holocaust of Innocence Wall. It is part of our Shattering The Silence Tour and Documentary Project.     

I was honored to share some of my own personal healing art work.

keeping secrets

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Keening my Lost Innocence

At the time of the interview they were going to visit 25 cities in the United Stated and Canada. Since then they have visited 115 cities.  They have been filming a documentary on survivors stories from across the nation, conducting research on how child sexual assault is affecting our local communities, and hosting free public education conferences across the nation on prevention of child sexual assault and human trafficking. To find out more more stories of courage go to

http://youtu.be/4ny6eWshhbg

 

Rae: How do you avoid burnout?

Connie: You are going to face many obstacles and if you don’t have the passion and the drive for this, you’ll get burned out really fast and then you’ll want to stop. You must have a vision, know where you want to go, know the things you want to accomplish and the dreams and the lives you want to change. You must have love in your heart. Do it for love.

 Rae: What kind of legacy would you like to leave in terms of your family, career and community?

Connie: The legacy I would like to leave would be having safer environments for children, for them to be able to grow in a happy, healthy home and to fulfill their dreams. My ultimate dream is having two FACSA Foundation shelters in each state. There will be huge shelters, they will have chapels, they’ll have child screening, self-defense classes and they’ll have apartment-sized houses. We will have on-staff doctors, nurses, security and then they will transition to a home where they can rent or buy. That is my ultimate goal and that will be my greatest legacy.

If you want to get involved with FACSA  go to http://facsafoundationvirtualexpo.ning.com/ 

 

Do you have the courage to make your dream a reality? May I suggest you begin by looking at your back story.  It does not have to be an exhaustive account of your life. You can narrow the focus based on developmental areas of childhood, adolescent, adult and “senior” living. You can create a time line and look at what took place in areas of schooling, spirituality, relationship, creativity and work. What wounds have been part of your life? How has that made you the person you are today? When have you been courageous and followed your intuition? When have you had the courage to listen to a whisper?

I would love to hear from you. Please join our facebook community. https://www.facebook.com/winningadventure

Rae Luskin is an artist, author, speaker, mentor.