“In talking about creativity, let us consider its two possible meanings: creativity in the sense of creating something new, something which can be seen or heard by others, such as a painting, a sculpture, a symphony, a poem, a novel, etc., or creativity as an attitude, which is the condition of any creation in the former sense but which can exist even though nothing new is created in the world of things. (…) I shall deal with the creative attitude – or, as we might also say, with creativity as a character trait. By creativity I mean the ability to see (or to be aware) and to respond.”
The essence of the art of living lies in this creative attitude described by Fromm: The ability to be aware and to respond. The quality of our lives and our decisions is base on the quality of our awareness. With greater awareness emerges greater freedom, choice and possibility. Creativity, as a character trait, involves the ability to deeply attune to our present moment reality, sensing into what is present and then from this state of presence allowing a creative response to arise. Rollo May speaks to this point in what he calls ‘the pause’:
“Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. The capacity to create ourselves, based upon this freedom, is inseparable from consciousness or self-awareness.”
In this pause, the space of awareness, we can drop below our conditioned automatic patterns and respond based on the truth of the present rather than preconceptions of the past. Ordinarily we carry with us and act based on internal maps, schemas, or filters, formed through past experience which we use to make future predictions. But this can lead to inept or ineffective responses as we use out-moded mental models from past experience to deal with present challenges. When we tune into the present we can connect with an intuitive intelligence, a creative spontaneity that can guide us to wiser action.
When acting or making a decision try to incorporate a ‘pause’ into your consciousness by simply dropping in to your present moment experience. This means simply opening to what is arising and listening deeply to the signals coming to you from your body-mind. To do this we need to drop our preconceptions and patterned mental-emotional reactions and access a deeper wisdom within us, trusting that it can offer us a more creative course of action to follow. This need take 5 seconds, or it can be longer – the time is not the main point but the ability to shift out of our ordinary patterns of cognition to allow something new to emerge.