Lately I’ve been thinking about the evolution of our human societies, particularly in the Information Age. We have a lot on our collective plates: climate change, environmental crises, violence, nationalism, abuse. Why are we still focused on old ways of being? How will we move forward and ensure that everyone is fed, housed and clothed?
I keep coming back to the notion of valuing the individual as well as the collective. What our world needs most right now is creativity.
Our outdated ways of doing things, from industrial manufacturing to public schools to consumer culture, are all focused on sameness. This frame of mind says that we all need to study the same subjects, buy the “right” clothing and hang out with people who are like us.
But diversity is what makes things interesting. Each one of us comes into this life with our own unique talents, interests and abilities. Then we spend the first half of our lives wondering why we don’t “fit in.” It’s kind of ridiculous, if you stop and think about it.
We are all innately creative – whether or not we are drawn to “the arts” or pursuits that are generally considered creative. We are constantly creating through the choices that we make each day.
Things have been shifting over the past couple of decades, and we are starting to become a truly global society. That may be where the backlash is coming from. People are afraid of the freedom to be themselves or to let others have that same freedom.
Some truly believe that people who come from a certain part of the world or practice a particular religion are better than others. This is flawed thinking. You don’t expect a tree to be an elephant, right?
The serious problems that we face won’t be solved by using the same thought processes that created them. We need people who think outside the box, whether it’s in science, technology, politics, or yes, the arts.
Employers are looking at the graduates of today’s high schools and colleges and wanting more. They want employees who think for themselves and offer creative solutions. Our old ways of approaching education – to look at just one aspect of the big picture – no longer measure up. So what can we do about it?
On the most basic, individual level, my suggestion is to start by getting in touch with your own creativity. Fall in love with your wildest ideas. Break up with TV binge-watching and devote some of your precious time to your own imagination. Forget about trying to fall in line with the latest trends and do what everyone else is doing. Read, talk about, wear, visit and focus on what you love most. See where embracing the life of the imagination can take you and how it affects your contribution to your community.
Being openly, unapologetically yourself is a profound statement in modern culture. Don’t wait until you are an old woman to wear purple if that’s what calls to you. Stop putting off painting your masterpiece, putting together your million-dollar invention, starting your non-profit or finally writing that book.
We need all the creativity we can get – and as an amazing side benefit, when you freely express your innate creativity, you’ll find that you’re more joyful and less stressed.
Save the world – be your authentic self!