creativity is intelligence having fun.

Albert Einstein

If you read the post I shared on 12/31/19, you may have resonated with the idea of how growing the innate skill of self-awareness can help you recognize the story you are telling.

If the storyline or theme is one of lack or limitation, you have an opportunity to disrupt the storyline and begin to tell a story that aligns more with your desired or preferred outcomes.

The question becomes, ‘how do I do that?’

I am almost finished with an introductory course to self-care. The course includes some general skills, tools, and strategies to grow well-being.

The course is created for school mental health providers because it helps me narrow my focus. The truth is that the skills, tools, and strategies can benefit anyone who is interested.

For this blog, I would like to share an excerpt from the course that supports the skill: to create.

You may notice that we all have our own idea of what it means to be creative. We may consider ourselves a ‘creative’ or we have already drawn a hard line by telling a story such as, ‘I am not creative.’


An action. A skill. An ability.

Whatever or however you choose to interpret it, you have it. It is also a skill that can be developed as are all skillsets.

This brainstorm activity has one goal: to practice using and developing this skill.

Here is the excerpt:

I met a new friend in Breckenridge during ‘the summer of change’ who was transitioning from being a full-time mental health therapist to being the owner of a coffeeshop. On a side note, it may be of interest to mention that working in a coffeeshop was my fantasy when things got overwhelming (which was often). Anyway, she had boxes of books stored in her garage. I think that was where I found a copy of Shatki Gawain’s Creative Visualization.

I used Shatki’s chapter on setting goals as a strategy to create a desire for more. The reason I italicized the word create is because that is the skill that is being developed when we brainstorm new ideas and possibilities.

I know when I first got into this content area of self-development and personal growth, I thought I was on board with visualization. The concept of visualizing made sense to me. If you have ever been an athlete or interested in sports or performance in general, it is commonly understood that elite athletes and/or performers use visualization as a tool for top performance. Visualize the outcome you desire. Take in the sensory experience of the desired outcome – the feel of your body, the roar of the crowd, etc. This made and makes sense to me.

When I intentionally began to use this skill I found that it was not as easy as I assumed. When you create, by using your imagination, new outcomes and the sensory experience and details of those new outcomes, you are creating new neural pathways. By virtue of this being a new or underdeveloped pathway, you are designing it as if it doesn’t exist or at least the familiarity of the pathway is not yet familiar to you. So as easy as it seems to create desired outcomes, it does take some focus to get started on new ‘visions’. It also can be difficult in the early stages as those around you may not be on board with your new desires. Depending on the novelty of your idea (think Steve Jobs) you are creating new pathways that are not familiar to those who spend the most time with you, which can make relationships a bit uncomfortable. People have familiar pathways of relating to you and others in general (as humans we don’t always do well with unexpected behavior – especially with people we have known for a long time). Let’s not get too into the ‘others’ yet. Self-care is caring about yourself. The use and development of skills, tools, and strategies that grow your well-being is between you and you.

Shatki’s brainstorming activity can support the experience of creating. Get on board by considering the development of the skill: to create. Notice discomfort and see if you can intentionally move toward the discomfort with a desire to shift into a fun, playful (creative) state by using the skill of creating that lives in the prefrontal cortex where fun and playfulness can be accessed. Notice the self-talk. A popular resource that I often came across in my own process was called ‘the Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. I never completed the course but I did begin it and recall Julia’s discussion about ‘the blurt’. She talked about listening for the blurt and flipping the blurt or being curious about the blurt. The blurt is that voice that can sound like self-doubt. For example, when you brainstorm your desires you may limit your capacity to create by this blurt that suggests that your desire is immoral, unconventional, impractical, etc. Self-awareness helps you notice the blurt and ‘flip the blurt’: what if I can_____, what if it was true, etc.

When we get stuck or find ourselves spinning in life results that never seem quite satisfying, we are most likely operating from the well worn neural pathways of familiarity. Whether or not these pathways are helpful or hurtful is not necessarily something we tend to consider. Outcomes are familiar (we have seen, smelled, tasted, touched this before) and the patterns continue to stay deeply embedded until we become aware of the patterns that limit us and intentionally disrupt them.

To become aware of the patterns is the only place to begin. But then what? Here is where our capacity and innate skill to create new outcomes becomes quite relevant. Once you recognize the thinking pattern (belief, mindset, paradigm) that is limiting you, you want to disrupt the pattern by telling a new story. We are living in the age of disruption (politics, retail, transportation, media, entertainment, etc). It is cool to disrupt.

Practicing tools that support creating new ideas helps us to grow new neural pathways and get out of the familiar well worn pathways that limit us.

I am not one to set goals as much as I am one to set goals. I tend to set themes and reasonable expectations for segments of time. I also like to create or write stories about my life unfolding in fun and fabulous ways. What the stories are creating is a state of positive expectation which allows me to enjoy the journey and the moment rather than be attached to, and obsessed with, a particular outcome. I return to this reminder often as I create this course. Obviously there is an outcome to publish a completed course. The joy (to enjoy) is now. The process. The journey.

This brainstorm activity may just be that – a brainstorm activity that supports your ability to create new ideas and outcomes. Creating is a skill, an ability. Everyone has it. Below are slides from a recent lesson to middle school students where I facilitated this activity. I also used the activity straight from the book in the original course I taught to high school students.

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The outcome of this activity is to have the experience of using your innate skill to create and to enjoy the fun and playful ‘state’ that creating preferred outcomes brings. Notice the ‘blurt’ and flip the blurt (this is a great skill to acquire).

What if I can?