cre·a·tive [kree-ey-tiv]:
Having the quality or power of creating.

de·struc·tive [di-struhk-tiv]:
Tending to destroy; causing destruction or much damage.

Alfred Hitchcock defined happiness as “A clear horizon…being creative rather than destructive.”

I’ve always thought that the opposite of creative was, well…”uncreative”. Or “non-creative”. You’re either creative, or you’re not, right? But it seems the great Mr. Hitchcock was onto something when he suggested being creative instead of destructive. Create….destruct. Creative…destructive. Creativity….destructivity.

If I apply these terms to describe a state of mind, it begins to become more clear.

A destructive state of mind is one that is mired in worry, self doubt, and negative thoughts and emotions. This self doubt causes the mind to slow down and become muddy and unclear. It’s hard to think, to get off the couch, do anything. Trying to create anything of use in this state is an exercise in futility. At this point, it’s really about self-destruction. In extreme cases, the destructive behaviour can extend beyond the individual to others around him or her, causing suffering not only to the person causing the destruction, but to many other people.

On the other hand, a creative state of mind is one that is free from negative thought and open to accepting things just as they are. The mind is sharp, fresh and crystal clear. Thoughts enter and leave of their own accord. It’s that leap-out-of-bed, take on the world feeling. That is where creativity can really begin. Extreme cases of creativity can inspire great works and solve great problems, not only for the individual but for the greater good of mankind.

I consider myself a creative person. But at times that creativity doesn’t come easily. It isn’t there when I haven’t had enough sleep or eaten the right foods. It isn’t there if I’m too worried and preoccupied with other things that I falsely consider important. It definitely isn’t there when I’m surrounded by negative people or situations.

I have come to realize that creative really is the opposite of destructive. But it doesn’t mean you need to eliminate all the problems in your life so you can be creative – that would be impossible. Instead, it’s about taking control of the destructive forces at play in your life. By working through them, instead of against them, creativity will rise to the surface. It might seem easier said then done, but ironically, it’s at times when there is turmoil in your life that your true creativity can shine.

I asked a songwriter friend once why he hadn’t written a song for so long, and he said “I’m too happy!”. When my friend would experience struggles in his life, he wouldn’t complain about it and get wrapped up in negative energy. He’d use that energy to create something wonderful.

Next time you are feeling like you’re being sucked down into destructive thinking, try turning that destructive tendency into a creative one. Write something, play music, draw, paint, or figure out a way to solve world hunger. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s in the spirit of creation.

How do you stay creative?