Live a Creative Life & Rekindle Your Spirit
Through my lifetime of experience and philosophical study, I have come to understand that humans are biological, spiritual, intellectual, and energetic beings. We juggle these aspects of ourselves constantly, often picking and choosing which “self” we activate and when. Frequently, we find ourselves feeling “out of balance” – perhaps prioritizing our energies at work leaves less for our family, or the struggle to maintain both leaves no time for ourselves.

The harmony that we seek between mind and body seems daunting if the spirit is left out of the balance equation. I believe spirit is most closely aligned with creativity. In our most creative state we are fully present, drawing on spirit to communicate the thoughts and visions we hold for our life. Repression of creativity is a repression of spirit – they are inextricably linked. Why then is creativity so often something we sacrifice throughout our lives?

Creativity & “Coming of Age”

In 1965, noted researcher George Land was asked by NASA to administer a creativity test to a group of five year old children (check out this TEDx talk Land delivered on the subject). He found that 98% of them functioned at a “genius” level of creativity. Now that makes sense – kids are full of life and very much living in the present. They are full of spirit. We often call this spiritedness “enthusiasm,” which comes from the Greek entheos indicating that they are “inspired by God” or “of spirit,” if you will.

Five years after the first round of tests, Dr. Land administered the same test to the same group of children (now ten years old) and found startling results. After just five years, only 30% of test subjects continued to function at a high level of creativity. Wait a minute! With five more years of life on earth as the only variable, nearly two-thirds of children have significantly lost the ability to think creatively? If this is what the term ‘coming of age‘ means I want nothing more to do with it!

Land tested the same subjects several more times over the course of his study. Sadly, the decline in creativity continued. At fifteen years of age only 12% of young people were able to operate at a high level of creative thinking. The pressures of school, work, and struggling to answer the major “who am I” questions remove us from the “in the moment” enthusiasm of childhood and replace it with growing fear and anxiety about the future. You won’t be surprised to learn that by thirty years of age the creativity level of the same test subject group had fallen to an appalling 2%.

The Cost of Self-Imposed Constraints

What happens to our natural, God-given creativity? How do we become blinded to it in others and in ourselves? Is it simply a matter of enthusiasm naturally dampening over time? That seems illogical to me. Yet there is a clear correlation between growing older and diminishing in creativity, in spirit.

We all have had the experience of seeing this transition in our youth, or perhaps witnessed it in our children or grandchildren. We adults may predetermine this outcome by discouraging creativity and experimentation in order that our children become young men and women in our own likeness. Either we, the adult population, drill it out of our children by forcing our own human paradigm on their spiritual being, or we elect to layer over our own essence with thin layers of denial caused by our very humanity.

Perhaps we extinguish our creativity and address this diminishing spirit by claiming that the occurrence is our choice, while the forces of repetition crash against us like a constant undertow, replacing our true essence with the human forces of constraint. These constraints form the layers that obstruct our view inward, oddly protecting us from the very spirit that created and enthused us.

Making the Choice to Rekindle Our Spirit

But here’s the thing – the five-year-old spirit is not the least bit different from the eighty-year-old spirit. Both are timeless. It is what we create with our time on earth that can radically obscure the revelation that we are always full of spirit. We must make the choice to keep that creativity kindled within us, as clearly demonstrated by the people we know whose “childlike” spirit radiates happiness and enthusiasm for life.

It is always possible to rekindle the spirit. We can do this by acknowledging the layers of human experience that drape over the soul, obscuring it from our view. Where do the layers come from? The tedium of life? The job we elect to abhor? Do they result from living from an inauthentic self, trapped by who and what others think we should be?

It is our choice to wear these layers gracefully, acknowledging the reality of age and the compounding of experiences that can bind us and block the natural spirit and creativity we were born with. If we see these layers for what they are – not of our essence but of the choices we make – we can choose to unbind ourselves.

We can start by acknowledging the spirit that still dwells within us. We can nurture it through prayer or meditation or artistic or physical expression. We can, through our own example, demonstrate the resilience of the spirit and the power of the choice we make to let it shine forth.