The only thing better than spending time with our granddaughter is getting photos and updates about her latest accomplishments, discoveries and antics.  Recently our daughter texted us a picture of her smiling proudly with a bowl of spaghetti turned upside down on her head.  She had put the spaghetti bowl on her head, flashed her mom a big smile and proclaimed, “Hat!”  What a little creative genius?


Children are wonderful examples of how to let our imagination soar and embrace our creativity.  Unfortunately, many of us lose that creative freedom as we leave childhood behind.  But an interesting thing happens as we move into the second half of life.  Changes in our brain enable us to reconnect with the creative spirit we embraced as a child.  Not only are we able to become more creative as we age, doing so enhances our physical and mental health.


At the First Annual Positive Aging Conference in 2007, I was fortunate to spend time with the late Gene Cohen, MD, PhD.   Believing that the human mind is capable of continued development throughout the life-span and creativity is the key to unlock this ability, this amazingly prolific, kind and brilliant man is credited with singlehandedly changing the image of aging from one of decline to one of creativity.  His scientific research demonstrates an important connection between creativity and the aging brain, proving the following:


  1. Older brains use both hemispheres of the brain more efficiently, enabling the brain to become more creative as life progresses.
  2. Growing new brain cells is a lifelong process.
  3. Older
    brains are better than younger brains at many types of intellectual tasks.
  4. Adversity and loss that accompany later life actually encourage creativity by forcing change.
  5. Participating in creative activities results in better physical and mental health.


Creativity is not just the domain of the gifted few; developing and practicing creativity is something we all can do.  Research by Clayton Christenson, Jeff Dyer and Hal Gergersen, co-authors of The Innovator’s DNA, found that most creative skills can be learned.  The easiest way to become more creative is to choose an activity and just do it.  There are many ways to develop creativity.  Writer and educator Kendra Cherry offers twenty tips for increasing creativity, including the following:


Give yourself the opportunity to explore new topics


Be Willing to Take Risks


Build Your Confidence by making note of progress and reward your progress


Make Time for Creativity-Schedule some time each week to concentrate on some type of creative project


Fight Your Fear of Failure


Keep a Creativity Journal


Look for Sources of Inspiration-Read a book, visit a museum, listen to your favorite music or engage in a lively debate with a friend. Utilize whatever strategy or technique works best for you



Need more ideas?  Acclaimed creativity expert Michael Michalko offers 101 tips to be more creative, including the following:


Take a walk and look for something interesting


Open a dictionary and find a new word. Use it in a sentence.


How is an iceberg like an idea that might help you solve your problem?
Ask a child.


Read a different newspaper. If you read the Wall Street Journal, read the Washington Post.
What is your most bizarre idea?


Listen to a different radio station each day.


Ask the most creative person you know.




Ready to start living a more creative life?  Remember, there are an endless number of activities that give us opportunities to be creative.  Music, drama, photography, painting, cooking, decorating, writing, gardening, crafting, woodworking, dancing and sewing are just a few.  What excites you?  Below are some ideas and questions to get you started.




  1. List three creative activities you have wanted to explore or spend more time doing.
  2. Choose one.
  3. How will your life be different if you engage in this activity?
  4. What do you need to do or have to begin?


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