Have you ever considered what creativity actually is? And the importance it has on your life?
Albert Einstein, outside of what he’s best known for, is noted for valuing creativity and imagination higher than most (if not all) other traits. During his lifetime, Einstein commented about both on several different occasions, saying things such as:
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
– Albert Einstein
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
– Albert Einstein
It’s hard to argue with someone as intelligent and wise as Albert Einstein. Even today scientists are validating his work more often than they’re invalidating it (a common practice for scientific theories), and that’s saying a lot considering most of what we thought we knew from even fifty years ago has been modified or outright proven false in place of something else more refined.
I’d argue in favor of what Einstein believed about imagination and creativity, and add something to it: most people underestimate the place and importance creativity and imagination has in their own life.
How to Find Your Purpose Through Creativity (and Why It Affects Everything)
Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
– Elizabeth Gilbert
Inherent in the word, creativity has to do with our ability to create. We are inherently creative beings, as echoed in Einstein’s comments. When looked at in this way, it becomes clear just how important imagination and the resulting creativity is to almost everything we do.
If we have a problem at work, whether it appears artistic in nature or not, the brain power we use to figure out a solution to the problem is imagination and the resulting solution is creativity in action. When we’re having a problem in a relationship with our spouse or close friend, it’s imagination that is used to think of how we can make things right, and creativity which is the unique answer that comes to us spontaneously.
Every great thing we’ve done as a species up until now has been through our ability to create. We create solutions to problems we’re faced with using our intelligence, but it’s our imagination and creativity which allows us to wield that intelligence effectively. It’s no surprise, then, that the act of creating fills us with a sense of purpose and fulfillment that little else can.
The same is true in your life. However, most of us never find the spark that encourages and motivates us to create. We try painting and think that’s the extent of art or creative expression and move on to something more “practical” that hardly moves our spirit. However, especially in the 21st century, there are myriad ways you can express your innermost self and create something of value that not only contributes to the world around you but makes you happier and more fulfilled in the process.
So then, how do you find it? How do you find the thing that creates a spark in you and moves you to realize your purpose?
This first step is pretty simple. Start by listing out all of the things you’ve ever loved to do. Anything you ever remember sparking something in you or having a passion for, especially if it’s associated with creating and building something in the world. Take some time to look back on your childhood and really dig deep. After that, list out anything that you’ve always wanted to try or get into but never got around to.
Next, get out there and explore them fully. Really dive in and have a blast with it. Do everything on your list or keep going until you find something that really sparks you. This was one of the most fun exercises I’ve ever done in my life and I still look back on it as having been highly beneficial in bringing me to my career now as a writer. Whatever happens, you’ll get a lot of value from it.
As you go through this process, it’s important to note how each activity makes you feel. Is there one that really puts you in a state of flow and fills you with joy when doing it? Or a feeling of spontaneous and effortless action as if something has sparked in you. That’s a good sign you’ve found it.
What is a definite no? What is a maybe? Cross them both off. Be ruthless here. You’re not looking for “good” or “maybe”, you’re looking for “hell yeah”. Does something seem to lead you in a certain direction without effort? Do you have an uncontrollable compulsion to keep going, learning, or doing one of these things you’re exploring? These are all important questions to ask in discovering the spark that gives you purpose.
This isn’t so much about pursuing a career or goal in something (although it can and likely will eventually), for now, it’s more about pursuing the clues you’ve found during your exploration. Allow the intelligence of creativity to guide you in whatever way feels right and natural and continue to go in this direction to see where it takes you.
If you find something that really sparks you, keep going. Take it as far as it will go and continue to follow your heart. If it dies, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, see where it takes you. The idea is that you should be led with your heart, not through logic. Use this as the guiding principle throughout the exercise.
I know the idea of pursuing something with your heart first can be scary, but it’s necessary if you hope to find your purpose and the thing that sparks your creativity. There are few things as satisfying as creating something of beauty or value to the world. It fills you with a sense of joy and fulfillment that gives your life purpose.
I leave you with a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic:
So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
– Elizabeth Gilbert