The true meaning of creativity


If there’s one abuse of language prevalent  in the working world that I resent the most, it’s the word “creative”. This is specifically when people refer to others (and themselves!) as “creatives” or “creative types”.

Now, I know this term originates from the advertising industry in reference to those coming up with the advertising concepts, and as such in that context it is probably okay. However, I believe that the word “creative” has been bastardized and is now little more than a euphemism for “lazy and disorganised with an inflated sense of self-worth”.

The common definition of creative

Now, this in itself is kind of annoying but not a huge problem, because you can just ignore those people or work in the public sector. However, what annoys me is the knock-on effect that such language can have.

In truth, the meaning of the adjective “creative” is:

  1. having the quality or power of creating.
  2. resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.; imaginative: creative writing.
  3. originative; productive (usually followed by of). (

I think the problem arises from the related meaning of the noun “creative”, in common parlance, which is:

‘A person whose job involves creative work:the most important people in the mix will be creatives and direct marketing specialists’ (Oxford Dictionaries)


The problem with this definition

Now, this may seem petty but I believe this confusion is the cause of a big problem: many people abandoning (or not even attempting to achieve) creative goals out of a mistaken belief that they are not part of this imaginary elite group of “creatives”.

This abuse of language devalues the creativity of those working in less typically “creative” roles and implies that creativity is a quality bestowed on some but not others (usually those lucky enough to know people in the right places).

I believe this is fundamentally untrue, for several reasons.


The real meaning of creative

As stated above, the actual definition of the adjective “creative” is using one’s imagination and coming up with original ideas – which can be applied in a multitude of contexts.

Being creative is just a state of mind, defined as being open to the nature of reality and making connections, as opposed to just blindly and uncritically accepting what has already been established.

Creativity is looking at a problem and coming up with an appropriately crafted solution. It is observing what is really happening and actually seeing it. 

How this relates to personal growth (of course)

As Riso and Hudson say in Personality Types:

“Being creative is not limited to artists, but is an important quality which everyone should try to awaken within themselves. The most important form of creativity is self-creation – renewing and redeeming the self by transcending the ego. It is the process of turning all your experiences, good and bad, into something more for your growth as a person.”

Creativity is continually seeing with fresh eyes, making each passing moment something new and exquisite.

photo-1430916273432-273c2db881a0 (1)

We are all creative

Human beings are all essentially creative. The act of procreation itself is creative: producing something from nothing, or rather, previously separate parts achieving unity (creation). Creativity is not some ephemeral magic restricted to the gifted few, but exhibited in children, old people, men and women, averagely intelligent people and the fearsomely gifted.

Once you understand the basic concept of creativity, you can see its beauty everywhere.

I believe creativity is one of the cornerstones to a happy and fulfilling life, and that’s why I want everyone to understand that they can and should be creative.

Ideas for being more creative:

  • Make a creative goal that is easy to stick to, such as taking one beautiful photo a day and posting it on Instagram.
  • Writing one line in your journal per day, about anything.
  • Cooking one new meal per week.
  • Trying out a new fashion style, or combining different types of clothes together to produce an interesting look.
  • Rearranging your bedroom to have better feng shui.
  • Listening out for interesting words and trying to use them in everyday speech.

Nearly everyone is capable of trying these things. Try one now and see how it feels.

This is a really cool example of something astonishingly creative that combines art and mental health.

CatherineCatherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, yoga, meditation and being in nature. 

Images: Unsplash


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