Prof. Dan Gilbert talks about The Science of Happiness: What…
Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder
Many years ago, I visited the Glenbow Museum in Calgary (it’s right in downtown Calgary on 8th Avenue. It’s a unique gallery and I highly recommend it). Just inside, in the main foyer, they had a large oil painting on the wall.
The Brilliance of a Master
It was of a magnificent southwest desert scene somewhere in Arizona or Utah, with cowboys riding on horseback along the edge of a ridge on a mountain.
This wasn’t the usual painting, it was an epic masterpiece that surpassed anything I’d ever seen. Not that I’m an expert, but it was obvious by the painstaking effort and quality that this artist was really inspired.
The artist used heavy strips of thick, pasty oil to make the rocky ridge stand out in a three dimensional way. And the desert mountain vista was perfectly coloured and lit. If you stood 15 feet from the painting, the vision he created was incredible. He created such a mood that made you feel you were there and understood what it must be like. I couldn’t walk away. It was that awesome.
I just stare at beautiful things and drink in whatever it is that makes them so awe inspiring. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and there are undoubtedly some amazing things that you find beautiful and inspiring. Inspiration is also in the mind of the beholder.
Inspiration is personal and this painting gave me a lot of pleasure. That’s what the Glenbow Museum curator was hoping for.
I certainly understood what that artist was trying to capture and communicate. It resonated with me and it’s been sort of a standard for me when I judge any art I see. This “most beautiful painting” still inspires me decades later and will for the rest of my life. It wasn’t long after that that I started to paint. I don’t know if I had that kind of talent; maybe, maybe not. If you’re inspired, you can do anything. I fell into my routine and abandoned any thought of becoming an artist. You abandon your inspiration at your own peril.
Still, creativity is an amazing thing. It can be rechanneled into other things that might bring even more joy and benefit.
Your Creativity: The Power of Inspiration
My inspiration isn’t just art objects. People I’m sure you’ll agree, leave an indelible impression. It’s always the special things, outside of their routine where they do something personal that fulfills them. That’s what you remember about them.
Creative people seem to do inspiring things more often and their lives aren’t routine. Everything is special, and if it isn’t, they make it special. You know some of those fussy people who try to make occasions or things better with some little unique addition? Your good old momma. Other times, a person for some reason got knocked out of their routine orbit, acted outside their comfort zone, and did something unusual, something that took a little courage, and it’s usually an act of generosity. Something inspired them to do do something new and creative, probably because they knew it would make you do something new and creative.
And then there are those who have nothing, yet still find inspiration in their lives and a willingness to care about others and give to them. That’s the kind of creative spirit we need.
Why Not Dig in and Really Explore the Nature of Creativity?
So, spurred on by this apparent connection between inspiration and creativity, I’m creating a series of posts on creativity because it is that important. I’d like to invite you join me in discovering more about your imagination and how you can expand and develop it to become powerfully productive and creative.
This isn’t about art. It’s about ordinary people becoming extraordinary in the ways that matter most to them. Creativity can be in any area of your life and will likely spill over into all your other activities. You probably had such events and you never thought about them much. You may have had a great inspiration but didn’t think about it much. Maybe a person you emulated and still do now unconsciously.
My Comfort Zone Doesn’t Include That
I think the reason we aren’t happier and more productive is because we never take time to reflect on things and we’re not creative enough. That needs to change.
You might say “Hey look, I’m stuck with my world and there’s little I can do to change anything. I’ll never be much more than I am now.” So here’s the perfect time to use your imagination to solve your stifling situation and help you evolve to your full potential at a pace you feel comfortable with. There’s really nothing to lose is there?
Everything is there but we’re ignoring it. What is our fear of creativity? Change. Insecurity. Fear of making mistakes? What if it’s not fear, laziness, stupidity, or lack of energy?
It just might be that we lack inspiration. Without an inspiration, there’s nothing to focus our energy to become really creative. You need to find your inspiration and once you do, your creative potential will show up and your courage will be strong (you still need some creativity tips).
We’re not creative enough in our thinking, feeling, attitudes, in socializing with others, helping and encouraging others, and in how we work and live our lives. Our communities don’t support it and schools don’t see it as a big priority. But without inspiration, people and communities stagnate. Nothing happens until you are inspired. Motivation comes first but nothing really happens until we are inspired. Although I must say that an inspiration can be daunting. Just because we aspire, doesn’t mean we will succeed.
And that’s where others and creative imagination arrive as our heroes.
Creativity Needs Motivation and a Free Mind
I injured my back showing off on the tennis court. Now I’ve got this rare breather to reflect on how I’m living, making the most of things, and being appreciative of what I have. Very lucky. I can reflect on what lead up to me getting myself injured. I touched on this before about being ambitious and how that contrasts with being content and appreciative of all the great things and people you have in your life. Nothing wrong with being ambitious. Maybe you need a break too?
I’m sure you’ve gone through all this too. You really have to capitalize on these moments before they disappear. Act on your inspiration if you have one, and forget your fear of mistakes and others derision.
The Powerful Benefits of Creativity:
– Earning more money
– Getting a better job
– Influencing more people
– Improving community spirit
– Passing on more to your children
– Helping others achieve more
– Helping others solve their problems
– Utilize whatever opportunity and resources are available at the time
– Be more competitive
– More flexible and adaptable
– Be more productive
– Create more value
– Living a much better quality of life
The whole topic of creativity ties into all that. Without a relaxed, refreshed, and motivated mind, you won’t find the solutions you need to the simplest matters.
Creativity – Getting Over Hurdles to Personal Fulfillment
Okay, maybe I’m starting to oversell here, but there are plenty of hurdles you’re facing. Suffice to say that when we’re creative, we’re at our happiest and most powerful. Fostering the conditions for creativity should be a priority not a quick afterthought.
Why aren’t we all very creative then? In a society, creativity has to be controlled and employed to produce things. That’s all good, however because we play strict roles at work and at home, we lose our ability to use our imagination to try different things. We end up stagnated because there was no room, no time, no resources for re-inventing ourselves.
And when I say re-invent, I don’t mean total, complete, drastic life or career makeovers. We’ve lost the skill of being creative to make small improvements in our lives. That’s what the Japanese called “Kaizen.” A process of never ending improvement. How do we discover what needs to be improved? By being creative.
Creativity can open up tremendous improvements at work, for you in producing value for your employer, in collaborating with others to help them achieve more, and in supporting everything in your world.
Although creativity seems very selfish, it’s tied closely to being a part of something greater, making more use of what’s available, and helping others achieve and feel good about their contribution.
Collaboration is important. I’m studying an advertising copywriting course right now. Our class exercises brought out the fact that many minds are much better than one. Other people are a great source of inspiration and material. Sharing and communicating are vital to producing at work and in creating better family environments. Silence and isolation lead to suffering and poor productivity.
In the next post I want to cover creativity and mind expanding techniques, so stay tuned for that!