The strength of the month for October at Mayerson Academy is Creativity. VIA defines Creativity as the following: “Creativity falls in the virtue category of Wisdom. Wisdom deals with strengths that involve the way we acquire and use knowledge.”
“Key Concepts: There are two essential components to Creativity — originality and adaptiveness. A creative individual generates ideas or behaviors that are novel or unusual and these make a positive contribution to the individual’s life or the lives of others.”
One thing I love about the strengths work is there are things you can do to build your strengths up.
VIA says you can boost your creativity by doing the following:
When facing a problem, define the issue clearly and then practice divergent thinking (ex: developing multiple solutions/outcomes rather than just one solution).
Set time aside each day for creative thinking or creative activities (such as: writing poems or using an everyday household object in a new way)
Creativity is probably my favorite strength because I have found so much healing and freedom in using this strength. This is one of my top strengths. In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with PTSD from childhood abuse and neglect. I tried therapy several times in the following years and it never quite worked for me. I kept feeling like even though I would have small victories, I couldn’t quite predict when I’d be hit by a downward turn. Some of the milder symptoms I dealt with made it difficult to function at full capacity. I often had trouble staying focused, I couldn’t sleep, I was disorganized with things and had disorganized thought patterns. Little did I know, it was because I had never fully processed those events. So throughout my life whenever tragedy would strike, my PTSD would get triggered, and sometimes it would be to the point of not even being able to function at all.
A few years ago I was at a place of being tired of dealing with all of this. I knew there had to be some way to make it stop. I entered into therapy yet another time with the hopes that it would “work” this time. I discovered that I just hadn’t had the right therapist up until that point. I began to process the traumas that caused my PTSD and started feeling better. But a few months into the work I hit a wall. I couldn’t move forward. We kept trying to process this one particular event and I simply couldn’t. My therapist suggested that with people who have similar backgrounds as I do, it was likely the abuse and neglect started when I was a baby. He further explained that when that happens it changes the brain, particularly where verbally expressing one’s feelings are concerned. He said that art therapy helps people with that problem. I was very intrigued with the idea of doing art therapy, I had done art a lot in my younger days but fell away from it when I became a mom. So I thought if nothing else it would be a cool thing to pick back up.
That night I went home and for the first time I sat and painted my feelings. I thought about the event and did my best to express my feelings with color. I was blown away by how much better I felt afterward. I even tested it out: I tried to think of the event to see how I felt about it and it just wasn’t the same. Obviously those feelings didn’t go away totally with one piece of art. But over time I would use this and I set aside a regular time to do it. It was there that I began my journey with art therapy that has led me to combine using my creativity and spirituality strengths to combat PTSD. This has led to teaching art classes at my church and to find great healing from the symptoms I had been experiencing.
Even though the major symptoms have been mostly squashed by doing this I still had some nuances to overcome. Being disorganized and scatter brained had always bothered me and prior to these experiences I never quite gave any thought to it being something I could change or that it was really related to PTSD. I had just come to accept that it was part of who I am. But it was a lie that I was believing, and I could change that. I was so intrigued with using art and creativity as a means to think and feel better I began to do research on why this was working so well for me. I discovered a lady by the name of Sunni Brown who wrote a book called the Doodle Revolution. In this book she covers a lot of ground but I was most impacted by how she explains the science behind why doodling while processing information helps us retain more of the information we are taking in and in turn allows us to actually do something with that information.
In this Ted Talk, Sunni explains more about the values of doodling.
Not long after I started looking for this information a fellow colleague, Lynn Ochs, shared a strategy that would allow me to use creativity to better organize my work. She shared the concept of Bullet Journaling with me. “The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” I started using this system and was floored by how much more I was able to accomplish and how much better and more organized my thoughts and work felt throughout my day.
I look forward to continuing to pull on my Creativity strength and watch how it will impact my success in the workplace and in my personal life. You don’t have to have great artistic ability to use this strength and for it to be beneficial to you. What will you do to pull on Creativity this month?
For more information on VIA Institute on Character or to take the free survey visit: http://www.viacharacter.org