When I teach people about using their brains well, they often say they want, more than anything else, to become more creative. In response, I first tell them this: “You already are very creative!” Everyone is indeed very creative, but people often do not know how to use this built-in ability of the brain as they wish. They are busy all the time, and they are creating things all the time, but they are not creating what they really want. They make the mistake of thinking creativity comes from doing something—working harder, doing more—but the opposite is closer to the truth. The secret to true creativity, to true inspiration, can only be found in nothingness.
By this, I mean that to be truly innovative, you must empty yourself of preconceptions and limiting beliefs. If you are not creating as you wish, or your life seems like it’s going in circles, you must ask what is blocking you. If you look closely, you will see that certain kinds of habitual thinking are at the root of what you’re creating in your life. These blocking thoughts might be preconceptions about how the world works, or they might be recurring memories from emotional traumas. These preconceptions and emotional memories keep you returning to the same patterns and solutions in your life, which in turn prevent you from living your dreams fully.
The Ego and Creativity
Your ego prevents you from dropping these blockages. Your ego proclaims to the world, “I am this,” or, “I should be that,” which stops you from being what you really want to be. For example, you may have always wished to take music lessons, but your ego says to you, “I am not musically talented,” or, “I will probably embarrass myself if I try.”
These beliefs are most often rooted in past experiences, times when others hurt you or you felt discouraged about your potential. That is why you must return to a “nothingness” state in your brain, a place unattached to old memories and free of self-imposed limitations. Even if your beliefs about yourself are positive, they are still limiting since they box you in and keep you returning to the same behaviors. That’s why you must be willing to drop all beliefs, so that your ideas can form freely without the weight of preconception.
Thus, being creative becomes a matter of watching your internal conversations. How are you confined by your current thinking habits? How do your beliefs stop you from doing what you really want to do? What emotional residue prevents you from creating your dreams?
The Uniquely Creative You
Most importantly, let go of your preconceptions about what creativity looks like. It is not about remaking yourself in the image of the latest famous celebrity wunderkind. Rather, your creative genius is about being the unique person you were meant to be, and being the best version of you possible.
And when that moment of inspiration comes, act on it right away. Good ideas that are never acted upon are meaningless. And, if you remain unattached to outcomes as you act, new creative solutions will arise as you work. Creativity is not born of chance and luck. Creativity happens through focus, determination, and passion.
Finally, never forget that it’s okay if you stumble on your journey of creation, so never feel discouraged about your mistakes or the obstacles you face. The Wright brothers tried out over two hundred variations of their flying machine before they got it right, but they never gave up, and neither should you.