Who Said only Artists Can Be Creative?

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Artists don't have a monopoly on creativity.  Anyone can be creative.  

Some mathematicians, linguists, and physicists are very creative.  Up until recently, we had thought that tasks and abilities were almost exclusively defined as "right brain tasks" or "left brain tasks."  We classified people as "left brainers," and "right brainers."  Left brainers are supposed to analyze everything and "right brainers" to sense, intuit, and perceive without reasoning or thinking things through.  We defined professions and occupations almost exclusively as right- brain or left-brain oriented.  Physicists, chemists, mathematicians, writers, and business executives were supposed to use only their left brain and artists, painters, engineers, and musicians their right brain.  

 Such concepts are erroneous.  We were not born as left brainers or right brainers, but we become so because we are creatures of habit and slaves of convenience.  As we grow older we rely more and more on what is easy for us, what we get praised for, and what brings us recognition.  Likewise, we avoid what is difficult and doesn't win any praise or recognition.  Then schools take their own toll.  Schools primarily stress the use of logical-analytic thinking which is a left-brain activity.  Children who try to be creative or intuitive are discouraged or "corrected."  As a result of this, either they stop using the right brain or, if they are really "hung" up on using the right brain, they drop out of school the first opportunity they get.  

 By the time, we reach adulthood, we are set in our ways.  Adults consistently rely on some faculties and avoid using others.  Since brain researchers investigated adults, they couldn't help but notice that individuals, when presented with problem-solving tasks, utilize predominantly either the left brain or the right brain.  Had they investigated children, they would have witnessed greater involvement of both hemispheres of brain.  Children are too energetic, creative, and imaginative to not use their whole brain.

 When we think of creativity, the picture that comes to our mind is a man standing at the street corner, spaced out, indecisive about which way to go, and perhaps, stoned on drugs.  To be creative, many think, you have to get scruffy, lose your memory, get disorganized, develop utter incapability to even put simple ideas into words.  If, for some reason that is not adequate, smoke a couple packs of cigarettes and drink a gallon of coffee and creative ideas will flow.  We have a lot of misconceptions about crativity.    

 We now know, that you can be very creative and at the same time, be articulate, socially skilled, have the presence of mind all the time, and be highly organized, punctual, and orderly.  In fact, with such qualities, you too will be productive and creative.  You will be able to start a creative project and finish it too.  We now know that highly creative people employ everything they have in their arsenal to solve a problem and come up with a unique and novel idea.  They use words, numbers, images, colors, formulae, and other properties pertaining to the right brain and the left brain.

 Studies have shown that training in imagination leads to an increase in verbal and literary skills.  Accomplished writers have good imagination and high creativity.  When they write, their whole brain is active and cells on both sides of the brain communicate with one another.  The belief that there is division between scientists and artists is incorrect.  Some accomplished scientists are also accomplished artists.  Einstein was a great violinist.  Many scientists happen to be musicians and painters.  

 What will happen if you identify your weaknesses and train yourself in those areas, instead of saying, "I am not cut out for this," or, "I am not into it."  If you train yourself in the identified weaknesses,  you may become creative in the areas in which you are already skilled and efficient.  Research have shown that additional training in the weak areas results in enormous expansion of strengths in other areas.  Furthermore, training in weaknesses can improve memory three to five times.        

 In another experiment, typical left brain users, who used numbers as dull and dry means to do their calculations, a typical linear and logical activity, were taught to visualize numbers in different colors and shapes.  This resulted in an increase in memory for numbers as well as in a creative use of numbers.  They came up with new puzzles and riddles and creatively explained tedious number concepts to lay persons.  It appears that when the mathematical information was combined with shapes and colors, the cells on both sides of brain started "dialoguing" with one another.  Some "memory athletes" see numbers in shimmering colors.  They can smell and taste numbers, bringing all their senses to work upon the task of memory.  How very creative!    

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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