I keep hearing parents talk about not wanting to stunt their children’s creativity, and of course, they’re the same parents who give their kids tablets and cell phones to entertain them. As someone whose top three strengths include creativity, in this post I will be giving the five things that have helped me (hint: cell phone use isn’t one of them). All of these tips are at risk of making social workers upset… which makes me smile. I love how social workers think they know everything about how to raise kids when they’ve helped raise the entitled millennial generation. I recently came across an article by a social worker who taught that parents shouldn’t say no because it’s damaging for a child’s development. That’s one step stupider than at teachers’ college where I was taught for marking you should use green pen and not red because it’s too scary for students. If an eighteen year old is afraid of a colour, there’s a whole other list of problems going on. Besides, logically aren’t you just making green the scary colour? And what’s wrong with having a scary colour anyway? We need things in our life that scare us. Fear is a healthy emotion, and kids need to learn how to deal with it in order to become a healthy functioning adult. Without a healthy amount of fear, it’s hard to have respect, which is a bonus thought I’m offering in this post about creativity; you’re welcome.
Since there are some really “misinformed” people out there who say they want their kids to be creative, but are hindering rather than helping this, let me give you the top reasons I’m as creative as I am.
- I’m Dumb: Yup, I’m a dumb’n. And being dumb is a great way to help you be creative. Despite having three Masters Degrees, I was always the “dumb” kid in my class, and I say this with pride. Why? Because in grade five I realized I couldn’t do things the way other kids could; I had to be different because my memory was garbage. By being different teachers thought I was really smart when, in fact, I did it my unique way because I couldn’t do it the “right” way. After being a weak to average student, in grade five I suddenly became a straight A student. During my undergrad, however, my method tanked hard because I was a number and creativity was more annoying to the markers than helpful. Fortunately, this switched back at the Masters level where I did better again.
- Be Informed: Being a dumb’n I couldn’t get away with half-hearted effort. I had to be all-in and get an A or I’d struggle to pass. This led me to having to do more research than others, which ended up helping me realize the value of researching ideas. Seeing other great ideas gave me inspiration for my own. This was particularly helpful in my art classes where my creativity stood out the most, but again, it’s largely because I had researched other ideas and used them as my foundation for brainstorming my own.
- Rules: Here’s something that will really upset social workers (yes, I’m smiling at this thought). Rules are amazing for helping me be more creative. By knowing the rules, I can work within parameters and twist what’s expected. Telling someone to draw a picture of anything can be overwhelming or limit ideas. When I was in art college my most creative work came out of projects with the most rules because I was able to find ways to stand out against the others. If there are no rules or norms, you can’t stand out. Everything’s just different like the fashion at a hipster concert. Everyone is wearing stupid stuff, so stupid stuff becomes normal. When I wrote sketches, writing for “fun” was hard because I didn’t have a starting point whereas it was way easier to have creative ideas when I was given a sermon topic to write about.
The other month I preached at two country churches where the pastor writes out a script of what he says and then the congregation reads. This was awesome for me because it helped me see how I could be creative:
- Pastor: It’s now time to hear from God’s Word.
- Congregation: This is a privilege we enjoy.
- (Do reading)
- Pastor: It’s now time for the sermon.
- Congregation: This is a privilege we enjoy, especially coming from someone like you who is so amazing in every way. How did we ever get so lucky to have you here today to speak to us? Your wife is soooo lucky. It’s like she won the lottery of husbands. All we can say is wow.
- (At the end of the service, after a sentimental prayer everyone reads)
- Pastor: That’s very good reading.
- Congregation: Thank you; we’ve been practicing.
- Neither section is that funny a joke in itself, but it received big laughs in both churches because I took what was expected and twisted it. Rules are amazing for knowing how to give surprises.
- Embrace Emotions like Anger, Sadness, & Fear: Like rules, a lot of parents want to shelter their kids from negative emotions, but they are fuel for creativity. I regularly tell clients to try ranting (being angry talking about something that makes us angry), which is an activity I learned at comedy school. Not only does it help you vent out your feelings, but a lot of comedians discover material this way because your anger energizes you and gets your brain working better. Ranting about our fears and sadness can have a similar effect. All of our emotions help us connect with other people, and should be respected rather than avoided.
- Suffering: Yes, suffering. The thing many people avoid like the plague… which is a form of suffering that we should all avoid because death makes it difficult to be creative. So many parents try to shelter their kids from suffering, but suffering is incredible for inspiring creativity whether now or later. What comedian doesn’t love having some weird quirk about them, or worked a terrible job to joke about, or having been with a crazy partner? Suffering can lead to incredible creativity while comfort is its enemy. Coddled children are at risk of not being creative… unless the creativity comes out of complaining how over protective their parents were.
This week may you start to embrace things like anger and suffering as a way to inspire you to be more creative, and in the long run, help you build more self esteem and be happier because you’re not afraid of the things that cause others to hide.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people