Put a piece of paper and some crayons in front of a child, and within seconds crayon will hit paper as the child starts drawing. But an adult in the same situation takes several minutes to even consider picking up a crayon! So what happens to our instinct for creativity as we age?
A 1968 study by scientist George Land revealed that people are naturally creative as children but learn to be increasingly less creative as we get older. Over a 15-year period, Land distributed a test designed to measure creativity among 1,600 5-year-olds. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age and again at 15 years of age. The results showed that the creativity score of his test subjects dramatically decreased over time, from 98% as a 5-year-old to just 12% as a 15-year-old. (Source)
A more recent study conducted by The University of Texas at Austin found that having a creative outlet helps people stay healthy: “Creative activity is non-routine, enjoyable and provides opportunity for learning and for solving problems. People who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems.”
The study found that the health advantage of being above average in creative work (in the 60th percentile) versus being somewhat below average (in the 40th percentile) is equal to being 6.7 years younger. (Source)
So how do we rediscover the creativity within ourselves and encourage it in our children? Cecili Simmons of MindBodyGreen.com offers 7 tips for accessing your inner creative:
1. Take your inner creative seriously.
2. Don’t be afraid to look foolish – that’s where the magic happens.
3. Stimulate your juices and get flowing by arranging an environment in you home that gets you “in the mood.”
4. Be open minded about exploring new areas of inspiration.
5. Realize everything is fair game for generating creative ideas. Don’t think that just because you’re not in your designated creative space the ideas won’t come—they’ll come when you’re getting a new set of crowns put in or at your emissions testing appointment, so be ready with pen and pad or recording device.
6. Grant yourself creative license. Nobody can do it but you, and when you do it’s official.
7. There’ll always be some who “get it” and some who don’t. Get over it—they’re probably just afraid, and jealous of your creative independence.