Older Adults: Access the Gift of Creativity!

creativity of older adultsWhether you are 60, 70, 80, or even 90, you can use your brain in such a way that this period in your life becomes your happiest and most productive.

It begins with an unguarded moment. We have all had the experience of letting our mind wander, and daydreaming about doing something entirely new. One day we are living an ordinary life—expending our energies just existing, taking care of every-day commitments and chores. The next day, a new possibility pops into our brain, and we allow ourselves to think about it—exploring tentatively at first, returning to it through the day, looking it up online, reading books about it, perhaps even talking about it.

For some of us the idea will flourish for a while, and then dissipate as our inner critic—our rational mind, convinces us that it’s impractical, that we are too old, we don’t have the background, that we don’t have the time, the talent or the drive to do it. Eventually we dismiss the possibility and let it go.

But for some of you the idea takes hold. You dip one toe in, you give it a few hours, the next day, you think about it again, and before you know it, you are immersed in a project, an art form, a hobby, an adventure that captivates you and leads you off into an entirely new direction.

You have awakened the right side of your brain.

Without realizing it, you have stimulated the creative side of your brain. You have awakened your ‘right’ brain, that part of your brain that is more fluid, flexible and receptive to new ideas. You have allowed yourself to move beyond the gremlins of self-doubt and rational thought and into a brand new arena.

At this point, you might realize that you have become creative, and you may wish to understand the process. You might ask, What is creativity? You might wonder how it took you from a fleeting mental impression, to something that now has form.

Linda Naiman, (Creativity at Work) defines it this way:

Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.

Deepak Chopra, (Chopra Foundation), puts it differently, saying:

Creativity is a process of transforming the raw energy, information, and material of the universe into something that has never before existed.

The study of creativity and the brain has led to theories about how ideas can be processed in one form and have an outcome in another, and how these processes of the brain are affected as we age.

The days of believing that our brains are hardwired—that we lose the capacity to expand, transform and adapt by the time we reach old age are long gone.

Neuroscientists have now accepted that the brain has a quality referred to as “plasticity”, which gives it the ability to form new neural pathways up to a very old age. This is the quality that allows you to learn a new language, a musical instrument, or take up an entirely new art form, no matter what your stage in life might be.

You can form new neural pathways well into old age.

As I wrote in a previous blog post, many older adults are creative, and have achieved extraordinary results well into old age.

By reawakening their creativity, they have recaptured the natural enthusiasm, energy, and wonder of youth. They have not bought into the belief that they are too old—instead, they have taken the quantum leap over the laborious steps of rational thought, and ventured into creativity .

Can you do this? Is this amazing process available to you?
Of course it is. It is still there, just as it always has been, only this time it is augmented by life experience—millions of rich, valuable impressions that you can draw on while you are exploring the medium you want to express.

What should you attempt? What can you do?

Well, anything, it turns out. You don’t have to be the next Michelangelo, or Robert Frost. You just have to do something that stimulates your creative brain.
Once you start, there can be no going back.
Once you find your artistic and creative niche, you will wake up each morning, champing at the bit, anxious to get going. Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility. Nothing is impossible.

Here are some ideas:

  • Write a piece of music
  • Take a course in quilting
  • Learn about medicinal herbs
  • Learn a musical instrument
  • Do something new for your health—learn yoga or tai chi
  • Bake the perfect cake
  • Learn carpentry and build a birdhouse
  • Learn the names of hundreds of perennials, and start growing them
  • Write a poem or a story about your childhood
  • Take a class in dramatic performance
  • Learn the principles of water colour
  • Learn grade six math (or algebra!) and apply it to solve life problems

Opening your mind to the creative process will open new channels. It will wake you up, and give your life new meaning. Once you have fulfilled an idea, you will be inspired to try another one. You are now on a creative path that will take you into new worlds of experience!

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15 Responses to Older Adults: Access the Gift of Creativity!

  1. Rummuser says:

    Blogging is certainly a very creative activity! There are bloggers who post every day though I find it difficult.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I watch the daily posters and think how impossible that is for me! Seems that by the time I have commented on other blogs, answered my own comments, posted and commented on Facebook, not to mention researching and writing, my hours are all taken up. And now, I’m trying to learn Twitter (dog’s breakfast!)

  2. Yes, daily blogging does keep our minds engaged. 🙂 I don’t do Facebook, though. Not enough substance for me, but I could be missing something.

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I avoided Facebook for a long time, but got into it, and now I find it easy—Facebook does spread the word about your blog. So its worth it for me, since I’m a beginner, really!

  3. Virginia says:

    I am saving the two definitions of creativity you cite. I am struggling to find time in my freelancing schedule to devote at least 30 minutes to a novel. However while I consider myself a wordsmith, I fear I lack creativity. I find both ideas, but especially Depak Chopra’s great material for a pre-writing meditation to jump start me. Thank you, Diane!

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      It always makes me so happy when anything I do helps another writer. All the best to you, Virginia!

  4. Cathy says:

    Well, some of you know that I tried out University and I did make a grade worthy of a large scroll stating I have a BA (what the scroll doesn’t say: Majoring in Art history and Asian Studies but not a language from Asia) – I started when I was 56 and got it when I was 60.

    Since then I have switched back and forth between extra Uni study and doing art at an art institution. I haven’t finished the uni study and although I corralled a couple together, I doubt if I will finish it.

    WHY? because i have fallen in love with creativity of making new objects and art out of mainly recycled other art forms…

    I’m in the final stages of Art/Creativity Diploma and over the next few wks, posts will be about the WIP or finished objects…

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      I like the way you put that, Cathy—”falling in love with creativity”. That’s exactly what we do, once the creative ideas start flowing! You have found your path, and you have to keep traveling along it. There is no choice now!

  5. Cookin Mum says:

    What a wonderful article. I was wondering what happened to me. Now I know. I am currently midway through a college course and on break. I have been lost without my classes. I was invited back for a guest seminar last Friday and came home bursting with energy and my mind seemed sharp as a tack. I am 61 now and I have always been afraid of higher learning because I felt I was not smart enough. I was told that by the way. However, I just received my mid-term mark A+ so it seems I am smart, just using the wrong side of my brain 🙂

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      Wow, I remember going through that myself—I went back to university after many years being a stay-at-home mom, and I can’t forget how the world just opened up for me! I’m so happy you have found this new direction in life!

  6. You beat me to this topic! I’ve been taking notes on creativity for a couple of weeks so that I could write a new blog post about it. Now I can cite yours when I get mine done. I took a slightly different approach, and I was very interested to see yours. Love the list of ideas that you included to help readers think of what they might do to get their right brain going!

    Rin

    • Still the Lucky Few says:

      We are often on the same track! Do cite me. I’ll look forward to yours. Dr. Rin, just so you know, I have commented on your blog several times, but it seems to get lost. Am I doing something wrong? Tried to email also!

  7. Irene Waters says:

    Such a motivational post. Just the thought of “Once you find your artistic and creative niche, you will wake up each morning, champing at the bit, anxious to get going.” At the moment I seem to have the imagination but not the follow through into creativity. Both the definitions are great. Time to go and get creative.

  8. Jane Willis says:

    Creativity keeps me going!

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