Creativity is nature’s paradox. It is invisible, yet we see it everywhere. It makes no sound, yet we hear its whispers in our thoughts. We can’t feel it, yet it touches the deepest level of our souls.
The creative spark lives within us all. While we’re not always aware of its presence, it never fails to bring our imagination to life. It is the fuel behind our poetry, art, music, technology, and so much more. Our constant desire to think better, do better, and be better has its roots in this mysterious force.
Like the great artists, artisans, and engineers of our time, people with maladaptive daydreaming are intimately connected with their creativity. They know how to tap into its power to create an entire universe in their minds.
But sometimes, maladaptive daydreaming comes with a feeling of guilt. As much as they enjoy their fantasies, people with MD can feel that they’re wasting their time on a meaningless activity. And in their quest to cure maladaptive daydreaming, they sometimes throw the baby out with the bathwater – repressing the creative instincts that drove them to the activity in the first place.
I’ve spoken in the past about how creativity is a hidden factor for maladaptive daydreaming, but now we need to understand why. While it’s important to control maladaptive daydreaming, we should not neglect our need for creative expression. Using our creativity is not just good, but essential for our mental well-being.
What is Creativity?
At its most basic level, creativity involves the act of producing something new. We put our brainpower to work and produce unique things that no one has seen or done before.
The results aren’t limited to works of art like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, or Michelangelo’s David. We also see creativity expressed through new ideas, theories, inventions, and philosophies.
Creativity touches every aspect of our lives in some way – the clothes we wear, the house we live in, and the meals we prepare. Even the computer, phone, or tablet you’re reading this article from came first from a creative thought. Throughout the course of history, human societies have relied on the power of creativity to flourish.
Where Does Creativity Come From?
At least part of our creative ability comes from our physical makeup. A 2009 study found that creative people tend to have a smaller corpus callosum – the bundle of fibers that connect the two hemispheres of the brain. This trait is thought to aid the development of new ideas and creative thinking.
There’s also some research that suggests that the secret may lie in our DNA. A study from the University of Helsinki discovered that people with strong musical aptitude had something in common: a specific group of genes that might contribute to musical creativity.
Interestingly, the same researchers noticed a connection between creativity and high levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that influences mood, memory, appetite, and learning.
But that’s not the end of the story. We also gain a creative boost from our interactions with the environment. The outside world is ripe with opportunities to experience new things. Whenever we take in new information from these experiences, our brains compare and connect it with the knowledge we already have. This process allows us to come up with entirely new ideas, solutions, and insights.
Lastly, regardless of the genetic hand that we’re given or the experiences we’ve had in the past, we can learn how to be more creative simply through practice. Even if we have an innate ability, we can’t rest on our laurels. Like a muscle, creativity must be strengthened and developed with continuous use.
Creativity is a Survival Tool
Strangely enough, mother nature has a way of exercising our creative muscles for us. Not through free weekly art and music classes, sadly (though the idea sounds nice), but through adversity.
When we look at it through nature’s eyes, we see that creative instinct isn’t a fun accessory – it’s a necessity. Watch just about any nature documentary, and you’ll find this to be true. In the wild, the survivors are not always the biggest, strongest, or the fastest. Sometimes the victors have something even better: cleverness.
Survival depends on knowing how to outsmart the competition. Camouflage, intimidation, and cooperation are just a few creative methods animals use to tip the balance in their favor.
Though we often forget this fact, humans are a part of nature too. We also must find ways to survive. The world we live in is ever changing, and each new day brings unique challenges for us to face. If we can’t adapt to them, we won’t last very long.
If we’re going to make it in this world, we need to know how to be clever – and that’s where creativity comes in. By using this skill, we can view a problem from different angles and think of innovative solutions. Then we can overcome our obstacles – and become stronger for them.
Creativity in Action
Growing up in a family of writers, artists, and musicians, creativity was no stranger to me, yet I sometimes took it for granted. Since everyone I knew was creative, the skill seemed a bit ordinary – no more magical than breathing.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon an 80s TV show called MacGyver that I understood the true power of creativity. As a child, the idea that a secret agent could solve high-risk problems with everyday objects was a completely new concept to me, so I was hooked from day 1. Every day I watched MacGyver thwart terrorist attacks, stop nuclear plant meltdowns, and complete rescue missions with just a Swiss Army knife and a roll of duct tape at his disposal.
Being young and impressionable, I couldn’t believe how much a person could accomplish with just a little imagination. Suddenly, creativity was a magic power that I wanted for myself. So I began using it at every opportunity.
If there was a project at school, I always brainstormed options that I knew no one would think of so that I would stand out from the crowd. When preparing for a test, I skipped memorization and studied using other creative methods. When problems came up, I didn’t hesitate to use unconventional solutions.
It wasn’t long before my grades improved and I had the reputation for being “the smart one”. But my success had nothing to do with intelligence – it was my creativity that carried me through.
While it was a major turning point in my life, my experience with creativity isn’t unusual or special. Anyone can use their imagination to do extraordinary things. In fact, the power of creativity may open doors for you that would otherwise be closed.
Creativity Rules the Universe
Not only is creativity an important part in this story that we call life, it plays the starring role. It’s true – creativity is the name of the game. Don’t think so? Then let me point out the most undeniable proof that creativity runs the show.
You. You are a product of creativity. As are your parents and their parents. Every living being is part of the cycle of creativity. That’s what reproduction is – the act of creating something new. It’s the single most important goal of any organism, the fundamental aspect of all life. Behind our drive to survive is the need to bring forth our creativity in some tangible form, whether through passing down our DNA, or sharing our artistic gifts with the world.
But this inexplicable need to create expands even beyond us as humans. It is the law of the universe. Creative direction involves a push to grow and evolve, but for this to happen, things must constantly remain in a state of change. With change comes new life, and new possibilities. Creativity is self sustaining – creation begets more creation, and this cycle will continue even long after we’re around to witness it.
Why We Need Creativity
Creativity is not what you do. Creativity is who you are. It is the foundation of your being. When you go against that by repressing your imagination, you deny your very nature. You go against the natural flow of life.
We need our creative spark to help us understand who we are and our place in the world. Because creativity is the act of taking what’s inward and projecting it outward, it allows us self-expression. When we’re allowed to be who we are, we feel fulfilled. And when we can produce something of value that will benefit others, it helps us derive purpose and meaning from our lives.
Your maladaptive daydreaming is not an accident. It is a reflection of your innate need to be creative. But when the fantasies become excessive, it’s a sign that in other areas of your life, you are not giving yourself enough freedom of expression. As long as you neglect to acknowledge and address these needs, maladaptive daydreaming will constantly stand in your way.
Nurture Your Creative Spark
Finding a cure for maladaptive daydreaming does not mean giving up your creativity. On the contrary – it means putting it to work in ways that are more fulfilling. Only then will your maladaptive daydreaming have less power over you.
To do this, you must find alternative creative outlets. Look for opportunities in your life to express yourself – singing, dancing, novel writing – it’s up to you. Use your intuition to guide you in the right direction. You’ll know when you’ve found the right path, because your choice will excite and stir your emotions. You may even find that your imagination flows stronger than it ever has before.
Don’t underestimate the power of creativity in your life. It is one of the strongest assets you possess – take advantage of it!
How do you embrace your creativity? Share your thoughts in the comments below.