Introduction: What is Creativity?
Creativity is the tendency to come up with ideas to solve problems with relevance and novelty. Creativity can also be defined as the ability to transform ideas, dreams, and imagination into reality. It is characterized by the ability to identify hidden patterns, make connections between things that are usually not related, and come up with innovative and unique ideas.
We are all born with an immense amount of creativity, and the best example of this is children. Children often have the most innovative and creative ideas. However, as we grow up, we outgrow creativity.
According to George Land's study in 1968, creativity in 5-year-olds was found to be 98%, and it reduced to 30% by the time they reached age 10. It reduced further to 12% in 15-years-olds, and adults in the study showed just 2% creativity.
When we are creative, certain logic centers in our brain are switched off, and the parts of our brain that are not used regularly are switched on. The medial prefrontal cortex of the brain gets activated during a creative process while the activity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex gets lowered.
Importance of Creativity
Creativity shapes personality, behavior, mindset, outlook about life and people, confidence, and lots of other aspects of one's life.
Here are some reasons why creativity is important in our lives:
- Creativity helps free the mind and help you absorb more knowledge
- It engages the mind and enables alternative ways of thinking
- It enables one to connect with themselves and develop empathy
- It makes one confident
- Instills curiosity and inquisitiveness
- Encourages different learning styles and helps open your mind
How Does Creativity Influence Other characteristics?
Creativity does a world of good and becomes a way of life for those who have this personality trait. This trait also influences other personality traits of an individual, such as:
Creativity makes one a fast-thinker and breeds empathy– both of which are essential for a good leader. It shapes individuals into successful leaders who are able to come up with innovative ideas and redefine business solutions. Creative leaders are open-minded and inventive in their ways. Along with these characteristics, creative leaders also hear their peers and steer their teams ahead.
Creativity encourages people to work without boundaries, tackle problems efficiently and quickly, shifts the fear of failure, and makes them passionate about the work they do. All these work together to improve productivity. For this reason, people who are creative are also extremely productive individuals.
Divergent or lateral thinking that stems from creativity helps creative people come up with novel ideas and solutions. Creative thinkers are able to sift through information, understand the root of the problem they are solving, and weigh the options available to them to take the right decision.
Genetics and Creativity
Being creative is often seen as a natural 'talent.' While it is not exactly a misconception, it is solely not the only base of creativity.
Studies have shown that about 22% of genetic variants contribute to creativity.
Of the several genes involved, the widely studied ones are NGR1 and COMT.
The NRG1 Gene
Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) gene is located on chromosome 8. There are several different isoforms of this gene - this means that the NRG1 gene produces proteins that are functionally similar but structurally different. The main function of this gene is to induce the growth and differentiation of brain cells. Studies show a clear link between the NRG1 gene and creativity.
rs6994992 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the NRG1 gene. This SNP has been associated with creativity as well as the development of psychological disorders like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Individuals with the TT genotype of rs6994992 are said to have higher creativity and critical thinking scores than those having the more common CC or CT type.
The COMT Gene
The catechol-O-methyltransferase gene, also called COMT, is located on the small chromosome 22. The role of the COMT enzyme in the brain is to break down neurotransmitters, especially dopamine and norepinephrine. They ensure the balance of these chemical messengers. By doing so, they influence the transfer of information from one neuron to the next.
rs4680 is an SNP in the COMT gene. Those with the A type of rs4680 have more dopamine in their brain. Increased dopamine is said to increase creativity in an individual.
Recommendations for Improving Creativity
Lacking the creativity genes does not mean you cannot foster or develop creativity in your life or work. Here are some habits that can help your brain think creatively:
- Use imaginative play in your routine work and life.
- Be open to inspirations that stem from your passions.
- Take time to reflect in solitude as research suggests solitary reflection uses a different kind of brain network compared to external reflection.
- Follow your intuition as it helps generate creative ideas and find solutions to problems at hand in a creative way.
- Be open to learning– through studying, new experiences, and adventures, as they all help develop creativity in a myriad number of ways.
- Practice mindfulness every day. It helps you observe the present moment without any distractions or judgment from others. It also helps in improving concentration, sustain attention, inculcate empathy and compassion– all of which are central to creativity.
- Being sensitive and knowing to connect the dots is important to develop creativity.
- Extreme adversities can be used to harness creativity as they act as a catalyst to help you develop it.
- Think unconventionally, even if there's a risk of failure.
- Creativity is the inherent tendency to come up with novel ideas and solutions that help transform ideas and dreams into reality.
- We are all born with immense amounts of creativity. However, as we grow old, we are asked to unlearn it by way of education and society.
- Creativity influences other personality traits such as leadership, decision-making, and productivity.
- The fact that we are all born with creativity means that this trait is significantly influenced by genes. Two main genes that have been studied in relation to creativity are the NRG1 and COMT genes.
- Some non-genetic factors that influence creativity are the experiences that one has over the course of their life, desires, fearlessness, environment, space, and time.
- Though one may not be born with creative genes, one can still develop and inculcate them to become a creative thinker.
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