Where Has All the Creativity Gone?

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Ben Michaelis, Ph.D. provides tips and strategies for recreating creativity in our children and ourselves to help us live richer, more interesting lives

Reports have been flowing in from academic circles, news magazines, and authors that American kids are no longer as creative as they once were. As a nation obsessed with numbers, data, and test scores, seeing the decline in kids’ scores on measures of creativity has caused concern for our children and the future of our country. In his article, “Recreating Creativity in our Children and Ourselves,” Dr. Michaelis, a New York-based clinical psychologist, provides useful tips to help us recreate our creativity.

Dr. Michaelis, who specializes in helping patients achieve mental health and well-being through creative expression, examines the “culprits” that limit our creativity: reliance on video games and an overemphasis in making money. He also provides recommendations on how to overcome these obstacles in order to be more creative, productive, and happy.

He advocates taking an approach to limiting exposure to video games and spending more time encouraging active innovation. Michaelis says, “Consuming media is fine, but it should be done in balance with active creative production.”

The other creativity-limiting offender is an overemphasis on our narrow definition of success, which is defined in monetary terms. Our kids have become trained to focus their sights on a linear and conventional model of success: “Most middle class kids are taught to believe that if you get into Harvard you can get an MBA from Wharton and then you can make a six- or seven- figure salary and live happily ever after.”

“In pushing this limited idea of achievement, we de-emphasize non-linear and non-traditional ways of thinking. Innovation, unless it serves the end of making money, is discouraged.”

Reclaim your creative edge

To help regain innovative thinking and creativity, Dr. Michaelis provides proven techniques to help jump-start your creativity:

  •     Inspire curiosity and imagination: Bring your kids into new environments, get them to try new foods or learn about different cultures.
  •     Do something creative every day: Try to make things with your kids or encourage them to use their imagination during daily activities.
  •     Promote Active Problem Solving: Challenge your kids to think of solutions to everyday problems to get them to work their brain muscles in order to broaden their ways of thinking.

Bringing creativity into your life and your kids’ lives is useful for helping to lead richer and more interesting lives and it’s also a lot more fun.

For additional suggestions on how to share daily creativity with your children, visit “Sharing Creative Time With Our Kids” at http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/822271/teaching-our-kids-the-art-of-creativity.

Dr. Ben Michaelis is a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping patients achieve mental health and well-being through creative expression. His clients include New York Times bestselling authors, musicians, and a wide range of artists and professionals. He is an adjunct professor of psychology at Columbia University and on the medical faculty at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Dr. Michaelis is the co-founder of the Downtown Clinicians Collective, one of New York City’s largest networking organizations for mental health professionals. The author of numerous scholarly articles and studies, he has been featured as an expert on creativity and relationships in articles on Salon.com and in Entertainment Weekly, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times. Dr. Michaelis lives and creates with his wife and two children in New York City.

For more information or questions for Dr. Michaelis, email him at Ben(at)DrBenMichaelis(dot)com.

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