Be creative, says graduate of creative studies: think small. Yes, really.

This is the 10th in a series of articles from the Center for Creative Solutions, which is celebrating innovation and creativity by featuring “thought leaders” from throughout time.

The author of the following article, Aryna Ryan, is a master graduate of the International Center for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, N.Y., and holds a MBA from the University of Central Florida. She authored the book, “Creativity: The Ultimate Teen Guide” (2015), and is currently designing a new program called “Creativity for Busy People.”

     During this pandemic, people have new problems that are have arisen from stay-at-home orders. Nevertheless, they have drawn upon their creativity to generate new solutions as well.
     One illustration. A mother wanted to celebrate her young daughter’s birthday. Of course, Mom couldn’t ask the girl’s friends over. So, she contacted people via social media and requested they drive by their house. She and her daughter stood at the end of their driveway while cars honked, people waved – some holding balloons – and shouted birthday wishes. Because Mom got creative, her daughter won’t forget this birthday!
     Social distancing has also given rise to churches that have commandeered drive-in theaters for Sunday services so people could worship “together” from their cars. For medical professionals, the need for face masks has led not only to shortages, but to discomfort. Wearing masks for 8-12 hour shifts was making ears very sore. An innovative soul provided relief by sewing two large buttons about five inches apart on a stretchy headband. These bands provided great relief because med pros could loop the elastic over the buttons instead of their ears.
     Think about how you, your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers have been creative in managing the current pandemic. How did you feel when you witnessed their innovation? How did it make you feel when you were creative?
     For me, I particularly enjoy creating a workable solution to a personal problem. I call this “everyday creativity.”
     An example. I admit, I usually begrudge the time and effort to groom. One way I’ve made grooming fun is by combining two electronic devices: FitBit with a cordless toothbrush. I walk around, brush the timed, two-minutes and then switch to gum care and whitening modes, actually spending six minutes on dental care. So, I turned one aspect of grooming from grudging to grinning!
     Lately, I’ve been combining many activities to create new habits, as illustrated in formulas contained in the book, “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything” (2019). Because these formulas are designed to be personalized, I can create habits that are small but “stick.” Here are some examples of what I’m saying.
     One desire I had was to meditate more. But even when I set aside only a one-minute block, I didn’t do it. Because creativity is based on trial-and-error, I kept searching for a way to finish a task. I realized that I play a lot of solitaire on my tablet so I decided that after every game I would take three, deep breaths. It wasn’t long till I noticed that I was deep breathing while playing the game. I felt terrific creating a solution that was personal to me.
     I also tried several diets this past year; they worked about as well as most diets do. Now, I’m simply adding nutrients. I learned that purple cabbage is highest in antioxidants, so I eat one chunk of it a day. (Within a week, I began craving carrots!)
     I wanted to add more exercise in my life. However, after a set-aside time to lift weights didn’t motivate me, I decided to combine again. Now, I walk (not the same time I’m brushing my teeth!) and after I feel the “buzz” on my FitBit that signals 250 steps, I do one squat. I’m already up to five or six of them.
     Because I designed these solutions that have solved my own problems, I feel empowered by my creativity. That is why being creative and innovative is so energizing, rewarding and impactful.

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