An excerpt from the Handle With Care Emotional Intelligence Activity Book.
Creativity and EQ
When we have conflict or no one seems to be hearing what we’re saying, it is time for some creativity. When we feel an urge to scream “I can’t,” “You can’t,” or “There is NO way!” it is time for some creativity. When we want to help a child learn something challenging, then, perhaps most of all, it is time for some creativity.
People often talk about creativity in terms of artistic expression, and while this is an important manifestation of creativity, it is not the whole picture. For most people, most creativity comes from solving the zillions of problems we all encounter every day.
Ironically, when we most need creativity, we tend to be in an emotional state where creativity is least accessible. Fear and distress activate the limbic system at the base of our brains. This shuts off the cerebral cortex, where creativity and problem-solving live. Love is the antidote to fear and the wellspring of creativity.
Creativity is not so much making something new as it is recombining the old. Creativity requires informality because its essence is “breaking rules.” The result is that creativity is sometimes tied to strong emotions which both give it power and make it challenging.
As we strive to make sense of our world, there is a great deal that fits in neither words nor logic. Creativity allows us to tap the seed of human experience and express that ineffable blossom.
Activities to Foster Creativity
- Have a backwards day, beginning by having dinner for breakfast.
- Use a copier or computer to enlarge small objects and shrink big ones. Make a collage.
- Explore how two or more ideas can be put together. Create an ongoing practice after dinner or in the car where you use this kind of thinking (it is called biosciation).
- Ask your child, or anyone else, open-ended questions rather than closed ones. An open-ended question does not have a single or “right” answer; for instance, “What was interesting in your day?” instead of “Did you have a good day?”
- Make a sculpture, fort, or costume by using everyday items in unusual ways. Turn a couch on its side or bring garden furniture inside.
- Make up a card game. You can start by changing a game you know, then change it again.
- Play mental games like “what if….” These require a willingness to think freely, so you need to practice not closing the door on ideas. Resist ever saying, “Don’t be silly!” or “That’s a stupid question.” If a question seems silly, maybe it is time for a silly answer, but don’t close the door.
- Try cooking with new and unusual spices which you’ve never used. Use the smells to guide your culinary exploration.
- Get on the internet and play a game where you follow links not based on what information is presented, but on the first letter of the link. See what random and amusing sites you find.
- Create a model of an environment in which you’d like to live. Use only found objects and natural materials.
- Make your own “magnetic poetry” using favorite words. You can buy a self-adhesive magnetic sheet from many sign-making shops.
- Have a tea party or an event where each guest plays the part of a character from a book, movie, the media, or other realm.
“High order” questions engage the whole brain. Six Seconds calls these “Fusion Questions” because they combine emotional intelligence with other kinds of thinking. Try these on your next car trip:
- Which is more creative — a sunflower or an ostrich? A milkshake or a float? A beautiful painting or a beautiful relationship? Why?
- Which would be more creative — the most wonderful, smooth, clean and effective car imaginable, or a sculpture that captured the essence of love in a totally unique way?
- Does anyone create new ideas, or just rediscover old ones?
- How separate are your left and right brains? Is there a “logical” kind of creativity?
- Which is harder — starting a creative project, or finishing it? Why?
- Is the kind of creativity that lets people solve problems fundamentally different than the creativity to make art?
Source: Freedman, Joshua; Jensen Ph.D., Anabel, et al. Handle With Care: The Emotional Intelligence Activity Book. Six Seconds, San Mateo, 1999.