Lauri Järvilehto is a founder of the Academy of Philosophy in Finland, a serial entrepreneur, and a professor of practice. His insightful session brought to light a refreshing perspective on relaxation, creativity, and their often-overlooked interplay.
He opened his presentation by discussing the term “relaxation”, which usually tends to evoke images of lounging on the couch, scrolling through Netflix options, a well-deserved downtime after a hectic day. This perception arises due to our overly demanding schedules and high-stress environments, particularly in periods leading up to significant holidays such as Midsummer and Christmas.
However, Järvilehto proposed a thought-provoking idea: Is relaxation merely a passive act? His perspective was a firm no. Instead, he encouraged understanding the functioning of our minds, advocating for active relaxation that taps into our inherent curiosity. He championed active relaxation as an excellent tool for broadening one’s horizons to boost that creativity.
"Creativity is a natural extension of ourselves. It adds vibrancy to our lives, pushing us beyond our limits. It's a critical tool to navigate our world actively, adapting to different situations, and a key to an active mindset."
What is creativity, and why it matters?
Järvilehto broke down creativity into two categories – artistic and everyday creativity. The former involves producing artwork or music, while the latter involves navigating daily situations ingeniously – like a real-life MacGyver.
Interestingly, he observed that people tend to be most creative when their skills are insufficient for the task at hand. This seems counterintuitive, but think about children. Their creativity thrives as they attempt to comprehend and interact with the world around them, making sense of tasks and concepts that they have yet to master.
A crucial factor influencing creativity is psychological safety. When individuals feel unsafe or insecure, they may hide their authentic selves behind a “mask”, causing their creativity to dwindle. Contrarily, when we experience fun – not the clichéd image of being overly joyful or gleeful but the deep human emotion of intrigue and excitement – our creativity flourishes.
In Järvilehto’s words, creativity is a natural extension of ourselves. It adds vibrancy to our lives, pushing us beyond our limits. It’s a critical tool to navigate our world actively, adapting to different situations, and a key to an active mindset. Creativity goes hand in hand with continuous learning, another vital tool to master the art of living.
The Two Minds
Contrary to the narrative traditionally ingrained in our education system and the economic model of rational self-interest, humans possess not just a single, logical mind. The belief that we are perpetually rational, always striving to optimize our selfish interests, is fundamentally flawed from a scientific standpoint.
In reality, our decision-making process is not entirely rational. It largely hinges on intuitions, habits, routines, and emotions, contradicting the stereotypical image of a human as a purely logical being. We way more often make decisions based on feelings and instincts, not just cold, hard facts.
Moreover, we aren’t necessarily geared towards maximizing personal wellbeing at the expense of others. Humans exhibit an inherent sense of altruism, a willingness to benefit others, sometimes even at the cost of personal sacrifice.
Science provides additional weight to this argument, highlighting our cognitive limitations. Our conscious mind can only process 3-4 units of information simultaneously, a small fraction of the overwhelming amount of information we encounter. The majority of our information processing occurs unconsciously, further debunking the myth of a singular, rational mind.
Relax to create
The creative process thrives when we have a diverse array of experiences and a safe, relaxed space to contemplate and connect ideas. Hobbies and experiments act as excellent creative inputs. Playing, which involves active engagement without a specific goal, parallels learning, making it another valuable tool for nurturing creativity.
From the enriching webinar, Järvilehto left us with three key takeaways:
- Creativity is not a mystical trait possessed by a select few geniuses. It’s a human capability that we all have. It is inherent in us!
- Creativity is methodological. While we may not all be extraordinary speakers or artists, we can nurture our creativity by learning the methodology behind it. As Järvilehto puts it, “feed new ideas to your system” – read widely, travel extensively, and gather new experiences.
- Great ideas are not exclusive, but our memory might fail us. To overcome this, he recommends carrying a notebook to jot down any ideas that emerge throughout the day. Doing so ensures that these creative sparks never fade away into oblivion.
In conclusion, creativity, and hence our wellbeing, thrives in a nourishing environment of new experiences, genuine self-expression, and regular idea documentation. So, don’t just sit back. Get out there, engage, and explore because your next great idea could be just around the corner!
ChatGPT was our digital co-editor for this article, but the ideas and epiphanies are by us humans.
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