Tag Archives: creativity

Albert Einstein’s Secret To a Creative Life

Do you think of Albert Einstein as a creative? He was.Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921

His left brain was hard at work in the fields of physics and mathematics. His right brain assisted the left in developing his theories.

He was exposed to music early in life and learned to play the violin. He fell in love with Mozart’s Sonatas and is quoted as saying, “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.”

A love of art in any form allows creativity to flow in the interpretation of the medium.

Einstein, himself, can explain his secret better via this  summary of a story I read about him.

In 1955, Jerome Weidman, a novelist, screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who died in 1998, met Albert Einstein at a dinner party hosted by a New York philanthropist.

After dinner,  the guests were led to a room lined with gilded chairs and a setup for musicians. Jerome was immediately uncomfortable realizing he was about to be entertained with chamber music.

It wasn’t that Jerome didn’t want to enjoy music; he just couldn’t. He closed his ears from the inside as the music played and turned his thoughts to anything but music.

After a while he realized people were clapping. He decided it was safe to unplug his ears and he joined them in their applause. A voice next to him said, “Are you fond of Bach?”

Jerome turned to his neighbor and looked into this man’s extraordinary eyes.  He knew he couldn’t lie to this man…Albert Einstein. Jerome explained that he had never heard Bach’s music and didn’t know anything about him. Besides, all music sounded like just a lot of arranged noise.

“It isn’t that I don’t want to like Bach, it’s just that I’m tone deaf and I’ve never really heard anybody’s music.”

At that, Einstein’s face took on a look of serious concern. He took Jerome by the arm, led him upstairs to a book-lined study and closed the door.

Einstein began to question Jerome about his feelings toward music.  “Tell me, please, is there any kind of music that you do like?”

“Well, I like songs with words and the kind of music where I can follow the tune. I like almost anything by Bing Crosby”

Einstein smiled and nodded, “Good!”
Einstein went to the phonograph and put on a record of Bing Crosby. After a few phrases, he lifted the needle and said, “Now, will you tell me, please, what you just heard?”

For Jerome the simplest answer was to sing the words back to Einstein. He sang it the best he could and the look on Einstein’s face ‘was like the sunrise’. “You see? You do have an ear!”

Jerome thought that was nonsense. Einstein used an analogy to explain it for Jerome. “Do you remember your first arithmetic lesson in school? Suppose at your very first contact with numbers, your teacher had ordered you to work out a problem in, say, long division or fractions. Could you have done so?”

Jerome answered, “No, of course not.”

“Precisely!” Einstein made a triumphant wave with his arm. “It would have been impossible and you would have reacted in panic. You would have closed your mind to long division and fractions. As a result, your whole life would be devoid of the beauty of long division.”

Einstein continued to explain that a teacher would normally begin with something more elementary and increase the difficulty as the boy gained skills.
He likened the Bing Crosby music to simple addition and told Jerome they would go on to something more complicated.

With each more difficult set of musical phrases, Jerome sang them all back to Einstein. Einstein was thrilled with Jerome’s progress. “Now you are ready for Bach!”

Back in the music room with the other guests, Einstein whispered to Jerome,

“Just allow yourself to listen. That is all.”

When the concert was over, Jerome was genuinely applauding his praise. The hostess came over to chastise Einstein for missing so much of the performance.

Einstein and Jerome jumped to the feet to apologize. Einstein said, “I am sorry. My young friend here and I were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.” Einstein put arm around Jerome’s shoulders and said,

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.

I guess a far shorter way to say this would have been something my 4th grade Nun used to tell us. “Stop walking around with your eyes and ears closed!” In other words, be open to everything beautiful around you. Don’t be afraid to experience or try new things. Creativity will come.

But I like Albert Einstein’s story better.

Creativity

As writers, painters, singers, quilters, woodworkers, cooks or any other creative you can think of, we often told ourselves untruths when we were novices.

Our inner critics would say, “You’ll never be any good at this. Why keep trying? Look at So-and-so over there and how well she’s doing. You should just give up.”

Some take those lies to heart and do give up. Others press on toward success.

The most important advice I read as I was learning the craft of writing a book was this (I’d love to credit the person who said, but I can’t remember who it was):

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

When just finishing my 1st draft, comparing myself to the likes of James Rollins, Stephen King or Christina Dodd is self-defeating.

My most important goals are to be the best I can be, never stop learning, and always be open to discovering new ideas, noticing the beauty of nature and cheering on others who do the same.

What will you do to open up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty?

What are your most important goals? What lies have you told yourself?

Come back on Friday when Sonia Medeiros will be here!

And don’t forget that June 29th is the One – Year Anniversary of The Life List Club AND it’s Milestone Party time!! Woohoo! 

We Life Listers would like our readers to answer the same question all of us writers will answer: What goal on your Life List has held the most surprise or invoked the most unforeseen benefits/changes?

Post your answer in the comment section of our Milestone Friday post between June 29th and July 6th. The BIG WINNER will be announced on July 6th.

What sort of prize would mean the most to all of you?

Creativity Is Not Always Child’s Play

All you need for an excellent exercise that stimulates a young child’s imagination is a blank sheet of paper and a few crayons of different colors. A creative spirit and busy little hands will do the rest. It’s not so easy for us adults! While creativity can be as easy as child’s play, for an artist or a craftsman, creativity can mean painstaking work.

Creativity is also an integral part of any work environment, and it’s not surprising that creativity in business drives profitability.

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid

The Magic and Wonder of Creativity
Small clumps of different-colored clay can make a bigger clump of multicolored clay. It’s one thing to mix ingredients and come up with something interesting. It’s quite another to conceive a totally new way of looking at things that leads to an unexpected result.

The work of a creative artist can make us pause in awe and wonder. Creativity can transform the mundane into the useful or the sublime. A talented artist only needs a handful of colors. His ability to create an appealing or emotional effect by combining a few available elements can translate into a magical outcome or the perfect result.

Creativity at Work

Quantum Leaps of Creativity
Some riddles are so difficult to decipher that we have to make quantum leaps of creativity to arrive at their solution. We intuitively understand that if you apply force to an object it will move. We quickly grasp why we need more force to move a heavier object. It takes a substantial leap of creativity to figure out that if you’re moving fast enough, time literally slows down.

Water emerges from two invisible gases, hydrogen and oxygen. Nothing about those two gases would predict what water is like. Quantum leaps dominate in creation everywhere we look but especially in the startling, beautiful novelty of life-forms on Earth.
–Deepak Chopra

Rules and Creativity: Putting Theory Into Practice
Fortunately for us, most creative endeavors have rules. If you want to write a convincing and emotionally satisfying plot, there are rules you can follow. The theory behind the rules was proposed in 335 BC by Aristotle and they haven’t changed much since. A painter’s knowledge of the theories of light, perspective and color enables him to create a stunning three-dimensional portrait on a canvas of two dimensions.

The Tedium in Creativity: Getting the Facts Straight
It’s a fallacy to think that creative work means you don’t have to deal with facts. Most novels contain narrative passages that require research. The writer has to gather and organize bits of general information, historical events and geographical details. A vivid setting with accurate details can help bring a plot to life and make the story realistic. Even a make-believe world has to be consistent and should be subject to some rules of cause and effect.

Where Creative Insights Come From
If you immerse yourself in the theory of your work and the facts of your project, creative insights will come to you like bolts from the blue when you least expect it. Creative people are those who are most receptive to their own intuitions. They know that insights come from their interpretation and understanding of basic knowledge and available information.

They have faith that a new insight will come to save the day. Every time they get “stuck,” they go back to doing something called for by the basics until they get another insight. They master the basics and stay in tune with their work.

Creativity Requires Commitment
All work requires planning and focus. Creative work is no different. You can’t carry out a plan and you won’t be able to focus if you don’t have time. It’s a valuable asset—and like all valuable assets—you shouldn’t squander time because it’s scarce. There’s never enough.

This is why making priorities and setting goals are so important. Setting priorities will help you manage your time. Having a goal will keep you focused.

What works for you when you need to be creative?

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Oh Muse, Where Art Thou?

Photo courtesy Nicole N

Inspiration.

Imagination.

Creativity.

All three are words attributed to the occasionally elusive creature called the Muse.

While us artist-types rely on the Muse to inspire our current artistic endeavors, we aren’t the only people with muses.  Everyone has creativity, and needs creativity to solve problems.

Through the creative process, we move through the mundane to come up with unique and original ideas.  We use this process every day, from when we determine an alternate route when our traditional route to work is blocked, to deciding what to have for dinner.

How creative we are is influenced by our intelligence, memory, personality, attitude, mental health, and physical health, among others.  While some of these factors are beyond our control, many of them aren’t.  By altering those over which we have control, we can sharpen and develop our creativity.  We can grow our muses.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the fastest ways to influence creativity, for several reasons.  First, exercise decreases the effects of stress by releasing endorphins which positively affect our mental health.  Positive mental health leads to a positive attitude.  A positive attitude leads to increased mental flexibility, which makes it easier to be creative.

Exercise improves every aspect of cognition, including creativity.  There is something about activating the right side of the brain that enhances creativity, and instead of trying to explain it, I’m giving you the link to a fascinating article about it here.

Work on Your Working Memory

Working memory is also called short-term memory.  It is the part of our brain that stores information for short periods of time so that we can manipulate the information to understand and reason what we saw, learned, etc…  Exercising your brain, whether through brain games, chess, word puzzles, etc… you can increase your working memory.

Become a Brainstorming Genius

In the article “How to Get Mindpopping Ideas,”  Michael Michalko likens creativity to the universe, and creative ideas to the subatomic particles found throughout.   He gives three ways to harvest all those millions of ideas and thoughts while brainstorming.

Photo by Free Digital Photos

Observe and record each thought as a possibility.  The key word here is observe.  Don’t place judgment or value to anything your subconscious brain puts forth.  When we judge the value of our thoughts, we snuff out creativity.

Become inclusive.  When brainstorming, accept every thought as important and potentially valuable, no matter how crazy or random it seems. Creativity is the combining of elements in new and unusual ways.

Keep a written record.  Writing down our thoughts and ideas moves them into long-term memory.  Even if we aren’t consciously thinking of the idea, our subconscious is, and will create more and more ideas.

What are some ways you increase communication with your muse?