Creativity as an Enabler for the "Good Life"

How to take back control of your life (in 10 steps)

I used to think creativity was not a part of me.

I wasn’t born with it. It was not innate.

I couldn’t create anything “new” or out of my pure imagination.

I was and still am a terrible drawer.

I could only write and draw from things I knew. Replicate them.

Same with my beginnings in photography.

Below are examples of the first landscape images I produced. As you’ll notice, they were images already captured over and over again.

Sakrisøy, Lofoten Norway

Lago di Braies, Dolomites Italy

The only difference I could sometimes add was to input my perception of the subject I was using to create. And tweak a few details.

Defining Creativity

With time, I learned that my definition of creativity was faulty.

Creativity is not an intangible talent allowing oneself to invent things that have never been imagined before.

Creativity is only the materialization of imagination transmuted into reality.

It is about connecting ideas and information in the mind and putting it out there.

Creativity can only exist from a place of action.

Imagination is the first step towards creativity.

And everyone is imaginative.

But the difference between an imaginative person and a creative one is action.

Now if action is the main driver, it means it can be repeated.

If it can be repeated, it means it can be improved.

If it can be improved, it means it is within the reach of anyone who decides to put conscious effort into it.

To each and every one of us, creativity is our birthright.

It is part of our human nature, but it will be unlocked only to those seeking it.

And it holds the greatest power of all. Why?

Because it is the most effective tool for problem-solving.

And that’s what life is about. We are wired to solve problems for ourselves and others.

Although uncomfortable at first, solving problems is what brings true fulfillment to our existence.

  • Figuring out how to take that photo.

  • Getting into a relationship with the one you love.

  • Getting physically fit to trek in the Himalayas.

All these examples hide a set of problems and challenges to solve to get to them.

And they require creativity along the way to be either as efficient or as consistent as possible.

So if creativity is such a crucial part of the “good life” and the human experience, the question is how do you harness its power and take advantage of it for yourself?

10 steps to improve your creativity and gain control

We often think creativity and inspiration come out spontaneously and that we just have to wait for these moments to happen.

Spoiler alert: they don’t.

I only write when inspiration strikes; fortunately, it strikes every morning at 9 o’clock sharp.

W. Somerset Maugham

For creativity to emerge, you need to make a conscious effort to induce it.

This means creating time for it.

I am a big fan of creativity blocks, a concept to which I was first introduced by Dan Koe, and then later in a podcast from Chris Williamson.

Essentially it means blocking a fraction of your day to indulge in creative activities.

I will fill my creativity blocks with writing, future image planning, and editing.

However, if your time is limited, and I’m sure it is, here are 10 ways you can start improving your creativity throughout your day.

  1. Embrace Curiosity: Cultivate a curious mindset by constantly asking questions and seeking new information. This broadens your perspective and feeds your imagination. Some may even tell you you’re asking too many questions. It’s good. It means you’re on the right path. Keep asking them because your questions will get better over time.

  2. Engage in Diverse Experiences: Expose yourself to different cultures, ideas, and fields. Diversity in experiences can spark creative thoughts. The best ideas I had came from being outdoors, mostly in the mountains for me. But it was always linked to engaging in something that went out of my routine.

  3. Dedicate Time to Creative Activities: As mentioned above, this is the biggest lever you can activate. Regularly set aside time for activities that require creative thinking, like writing, drawing, or brainstorming. The moment you realize you can induce creativity and that you have control over your creative output is the moment you gain power over your life.

  4. Challenge Yourself: Step outside your comfort zone. Tackling new challenges can stimulate creative thinking. Not only do you get chemical reactions in the brain for pushing your limits of the known, but you will start thinking about other things you may want to get into. Suddenly, some far-away challenges that popped up in your mind in the past seem more reachable.

  5. Collaborate with Others: I have been a loner ever since I can remember when it comes to solving my own problems. And although it made me a very independent person, it diminished my ability to connect with others. And that can lead to immense missed opportunities. Interacting with people who have different skills and perspectives can inspire new ideas and approaches. And lead you faster to your goals.

  6. Learn Continuously: As mentioned in my previous letter, I stopped learning at some point in my life a few months ago. The consequence was that I had never regressed as much as during that period. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Understanding different subjects and skills can provide new angles for creative thinking. And don’t just learn for the sake of learning. Learn things to use them after.

  7. Reflect and Journal: Journaling is often labeled as putting down your secrets and emotions. But you can make it about anything. I recommend regularly reflecting on your experiences and thoughts through journaling. This can help in recognizing patterns and forming new ideas. And it will help you see how much you’ve improved.

  8. Take Risks and Embrace Failure: Be willing to take risks and understand that failure is a part of the creative process. It often leads to learning and new insights. I learned about the concept of “Failing Forward” in my previous job, and I aim to apply it as much as I can for myself. It’s the concept of embracing failure as a crucial part of the journey towards success. Want to get somewhere? Get comfortable with the idea of failing over and over again. And don’t let it stop you.

  9. Rest and Relax: I cannot stress enough how important rest is to enable creativity. A lack of sleep will impair your creative thinking through poor memory and lack of focus. You need those to allow for creativity to kick in. Give yourself time to rest. Sometimes, stepping away from a problem can lead to unexpected creative solutions when you return to it.

  10. Engage in Physical Activity: Physical exercise can improve cognitive function and lead to enhanced creativity. That’s what data suggests more and more (I highly recommend the Huberman Lab Podcast if you’re interested in how to improve your mental and physical fitness btw). I know you’ve heard it over and over again already. But there is a reason for it.

Remember, creativity is a skill that can be developed with practice and persistence.

And just like anything you want to get better at, it requires conscious effort put regularly into it.

And failing at it in the beginning is part of the process.

But failure is not a good enough reason to quit.

Thank you for reading.

See you in the next one,