3 Ways To Give Yourself Permission To Be Creative

Only 1 in 4 people feel like they are living up to their creative potential, yet the majority of people believe that being creative is a main factor present in a life of happiness and success, according to a study done by the Counsel for Advancement and Support of Education.

Do you give yourself permission to be creative?


Sarah Sparkles and I crossed the East River by ferry and arrived at Governor’s Island yesterday for Figment NYC.  It’s a weekend of art, interaction, music and gathering, but when I left, I learned something more than what was planned….

I realized I need to give myself permission to let my imagination roll and go with it more often.

I left the island vowing to push myself beyond the bounds of what I believe is possible.

Here’s what I learned from watching:

1.  When One Person Gives Themselves Permission To Be Creative and Share, It Creates a Chain Reaction and Allows Others To Give Themselves Permission As Well.

At Kostume Kult‘s  incredible “Free Costume” area, I watched a woman pull on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume to match her little 5 year old son.  As the woman, tied the red mask on, she looked at one of the people running the booth and asked, “Is this okay?  Can I do this?

She was looking for permission to play.

Would she have donned a Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle mask on to play dress up with her son on a regular day?

Probably not.

But the environment that Kostume Kult created at Figment, by giving away boxes and boxes of costumes to all who came by, gave people “permission” to break out and dress up themselves.

That “oh-why-not?” attitude can really launch the best adventures in our lives.

I watched her run off with her son onto the field and thought about how much creativity can free us if we let it.

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2.  When You Move From Observer to Participant, A More Powerful Dynamic Is Created.

A half hour later, I found myself standing in front of a bowl of roses, with a mirror on the floor to reflect the thrown petals and a video projector showing roses falling onto the floor. It was a beautiful small temple space, an art project in the Sculpture house, and I appreciated looking at it.

Within 5 minutes, a man came up behind me and asked me if I made a wish yet.
I hadn’t.
There was no sign saying anything about wishing or throwing.
It was art, and I was respectfully observing and enjoying it.
He reached his hands into the rose petals
took out one
closed his eyes
put the rose petal to his forehead
and gently threw it onto the mirror in the temple.
Instantly, the artwork became more alive to me with this stranger’s wish.

He walked away and my hands felt themselves surrounded by petals in the wooden bowl.
I made my own wish
and gently tossed the petals in among the others
to mingle
in hope and imagination.

Rather than just observing, I was a participant, and there was power in that.

How often do we take the “I’m-just-an-observer” role?

3. For Success Today, Look First To Yourself.

This was my fortune from Hack Manhattan, after I ran my hands over a crystal ball that a computer could feel my hand vibrations through.  I thought it was pretty appropriate for this post.  It’s a “well-the-creativity-has-to-start-with-me” kind of message.

Yes, I got to participate in this incredible free art festival in the city, I got to learn, I got to play, I got to wander and let my imagination run wild.  But what if, I found things to create, to come up with, and let others enjoy them as well?  What if I pushed myself further and explored my imagination deeper?

That is where the true gems await for us all.


Thank you to Figment, to Kostume Kult, to Hack Manhattan and all of the amazing artists who participated – and thanks to my girl – Sarah Sparkles, for a beautiful day of adventure and inspiration.

What creative projects, festivals, bands, art shows have you been inspired by to push yourself further?