A Note About This Feature: Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about. Currently, the focus is on creating and creativity.
Exercising the creative part of your brain is a great IQ booster. I mean, I don’t actually have any research or statistics to present to you today to support my claim, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. I’m CERTAIN that I could find some if you really wanted me to.
But for now, I will make this claim based on my own personal experience. Because that’s valid in its own right . . . right?
As I see it, being creative provides me with a huge mental boost. Making connections, thinking of things in new ways, learning new skills – all of these activities get my little neurological synapses firing away. As someone who loves to learn and get education in various formats, I’ll also attest to the fact that exercising creativity is one of the best free (or at least low-cost) forms of education we can get. Learning in traditional environments is great, but as we get older, it’s often difficult to continue to get that sort of education. It’s costly, we have other obligations on our time and, quite frankly, at some point, you may just learn the same things over and over again.
But, being creative – picking up a cook book, following along with an online tutorial, taking a community class, getting a book from the library on DIY – these avenues for learning are generally accessible and provide endless possibilities. And I have no doubt that accessing these resources has increased my own mental capacity.
You want examples, eh? No problem. Here are a few:
You all know that I’m a knitter. I bet non-knitters don’t realize how much math can be involved in the craft – I know I sure didn’t! What happens when I see a pattern that makes a 22-inch circumference hat using size 8 needles and worsted weight yarn, with a cast-on of 96 stitches and I want to use DK weight yarn that I already own and make the hat for someone with a 19-inch head???? Math happens – that’s what!
Being able to make conversions such as these (and this is pretty basic one) is a great exercise in brainpower. I have oodles of respect for knitwear designers who create complex patterns using an amazing amount of numerical-based talent. It’s serious business. I’m quite certain this extends to other crafts beyond knitting, as well. Sewing, painting, drawing, sculpting, et cetera all can be improved by learning about other disciplines, such as mathematics and natural sciences.
Cooking has taught me so much about the world. When I’m looking at recipes and whipping up new meals, I often come across ingredients and dishes that are unfamiliar to me. My curiosity naturally kicks in and off I go to learn about these items. The tidbits and pieces of information that I have picked up about cultures, history (the history of certain foods – spices, salt, olive oil, etc is fascinating) and societies has enriched my general knowledge base time and time again. And, you’d be surprised how many trivia questions you’ll be able to answer with what you learn!
Practicing Any New Creative Skill
I’ve accessed various methods for taking courses that have taught me new skills. I’ve taken community ‘Learn to Sew’ and ‘Learn to Knit’ classes, used the Internet for online craft-related courses, and taken a local pasta making class all in the name of pursuing creative endeavors. I haven’t become an expert at all of these things and likely never will, but I HAVE put my brain to work during each event. Practicing a new creative skill, something that is generally unfamiliar to me, makes my brain work in different ways and builds new mental connections. I may not be someone who enjoys making pasta dough from scratch on a regular basis, but learning about how the ingredients in dough react to one another, to temperature, to manipulation, this increases my knowledge of science. Chemistry, my friends, was one of my least favorite subjects as a student – but teach me chemistry through food and cooking and I’ll learn more then I ever did in a high school laboratory.
These are a few examples in a whole world of creative activities that have enriched my mental capacity. A personal goal of mine is to remember that there is always more to know. There is always more that I can understand about the world and all of us in it. My creative pursuits constantly help me to both feel smarter and more knowledgeable, but also remind me that I always have more to learn.
Previous Entries in This Series:
Why Creativity Counts #1: Because It’s So Much More Than You May Think