Libretto (Books)

My Creative, Messy Mind

One thing I know about myself is that I like order. I’m a bit of a neat-freak externally, however, the mental noise and ideas that manifest in my mind are another story…

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Photo by Jakub Gaudasinski

I don’t know whether it’s a blessing or a curse to have a vivid imagination and a brain that constantly churns out new ideas and noise.

Over the years, I have tried to tame it by note-taking and practising mindfulness. For a long time, I thought that there was something a bit odd about myself as I was growing up in a society that tended to favour conformists.

I’m an introverted extrovert, a logical creative, and an observant daydreamer. Walt Whitman once said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” It is difficult to truly understand creativity, let alone its host.

My behaviours don’t fit into the theory of left brain versus right brain, with left-brained folks tending towards methodical and analytical approaches, and right-brained folks being more creative. I can’t subscribe to such a theory because I am both systematic and highly creative.

This myth about the dichotomy of the brain was recently debunked by the authors of an excellent book I read titled Wired to Create. Dr Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire’s research was published in 2015, and this creativity manifesto is a worthwhile read.

“The creative process draws on the whole brain.”
– S. B Kaufman & C. Gregoire

So here are ten things that great artists, writers, and innovators do differently:

• Imaginative Play
• Passion
• Daydreaming
• Solitude
• Intuition
• Openness to Experience
• Mindfulness
• Sensitivity
• Turning Adversity into Advantage
• Thinking Differently

Every one of the points above is a chapter in this book and I thoroughly enjoyed the research that Kaufman and Gregoire compiled on some of the best minds in modern history. Of the points above, I think that passion, solitude, openness to experience, and turning adversity into advantage resonated most with me.

Everything I have been reading recently has inspired me not to take my mental health for granted. One day I will find the courage to share with my readers a very personal story, but for now, I am grateful for my mind. As messy as it can be some days, it is brimming with creativity. It is thriving on new knowledge and I continue to build neural networks and learn new skills.

I hope to dispel another adage because I still believe that I can teach this “old dog” (namely me) new tricks. The human brain is malleable, it can be moulded through experience and I believe we never stop learning.

There have been great advancements in neuroplasticity research in recent years and another author who helped alleviate the right-brain myth is an inspiring woman named Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain.

Arrowsmith-Young shares her journey of how she fixed her own learning disorders and developed a programme to assist others to do the same. Her story is fascinating and she is a great example of someone who turned adversity into advantage, not only for herself but for so many others.

As I grow older, I embrace my quirks. I am fine with not conforming to others’ perceptions of how I should behave or live my life. I think creativity affords me this freedom.

To express, to embrace, and to notice the minutiae of life is my path to inner peace and contentment.

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