You remember (last post) when we talked about curiosity being one of your biggest assets? I have more to say about that.
I forgot to mention that you have another big asset at your disposal: creativity. Before you shush me with a modest “But I’m not creative!”, let me pre-empt you. You most certainly ARE creative (infinity, no return!).
We all have the capacity for creativity. It’s not an innate skill blessed on an auspicious few. It’s a seed implanted at birth, but one you must cultivate in order to experience its rewards.
Our Best Assets are Already at Our Disposal
ADDers tend to be a highly creative bunch. As we already know, we are also incredibly curious. Lucky for us, creativity and curiosity go really well together, like fried fish and tartar sauce. When you use them together deliberately – the results can be transformative (like… fried fish with tartar sauce!).
I’m really intrigued by the way ADD can actually benefit you and, at the same time, benefit itself. Creativity and curiosity can help you do amazing things in life (see: Richard Branson or Diana Gabaldon). They can also help you do amazing things with your ADHD challenges. It’s like using a sneeze to cure the sniffles.
Getting curious about your ADHD mind and your ADHD life helps you unravel the mysteries of those two things and make them infinitely better. Add an ounce or two of creativity and voila! You have concocted a recipe for an extraordinary life.
Which of These Two Worlds Do You Like Better?
Let me whisk you away for a moment, to a land not-so-far-away – the land of the Ordinary Life. In this place, you get up and go to work, keep your nose to the grind, then come home to the same old thing – whatever that thing is for you. Most days are okay, perhaps even fun once in a while, but on the whole they are rather ordinary. Other days are not so okay. You’re late, you forget your mother’s birthday or argue with your spouse then make up (or out – depending on how serious the argument was). The particulars may change from day to day, but like most human genomes, you approach those particulars the same way every time.
Now imagine, if you will, an entirely different land: one much like the other, but different. It’s called the land of the Kick Ass Day. In this place you engage with your life, and whatever happens in it, with curiosity. You approach life with wonder and awe, keeping your eyes open for new details or different lenses through which to view it. You become a detective in your own life – with a widened perspective that sees old situations with fresh eyes and acute inquisitiveness.
And then seeing your life from this novel vantage point, you allow the messiness of your creative mind to seep through and shine “in a good way”. Curiosity lends to experimentation, the ultimate playground of creativity. You try out a new way of being or interacting with your life, not because you want fix things, but because you are truly curious about seeing what happens. Will it work? Will it not? I don’t know, but let’s see!
Curious & Creative Parenting
Here’s an example. My kids arguing drives me crazy. Usually, I end up telling them off or making idle threats about early bedtimes or sanctioning their technology. But then I started to get curious.
What is it that makes them argue? How do they argue? I wonder, what is each one thinking and feeling as they are arguing? What does their arguing-style say about each of their personalities? When do they tend to argue? When they’re tired? When they’re hungry? When they’re breathing? What is the benefit of arguing? Is it safe practice for real-world skills – to argue with a sibling rather than a friend or a teacher?
Then I got curious about my role in their arguing.
Do I intervene? At what point? What happens if I wait a bit longer before I intervene? What happens if I don’t get involved at all? How do they react? What if I react to their fighting in a completely different way – how does that affect them? How does it change their arguing?
Even if I never figured out the answers to those questions, do you know what I did do? I stopped the cycle of knee-jerk reacting. Instead of reacting to their fighting, only to result in pleads to each’s defense, ensuing in me telling them off some more and everybody being ticked off…
I took a step back. I diffused my emotion. I chose my reaction. And then I got creative. If the fighting doesn’t stop on its own, I get serious. Ten minutes on the couch for each of them watching… the Legislature Channel. A bunch of politicians, arguing over their agenda like overgrown children. Boring suits, using big words, acting like imbeciles. If they keep arguing, that’s what they’ll grow up to be – at least that’s what I want them to think.
My brother-in-law has an even more creative solution to sibling rivalry. It’s called The Love Shirt. One of his old t-shirts with a giant heart painted on it, that both kids must wear in tandem while they hold hands and recite love declarations to each other (they’re 7 and 10). The shirt does not come off until they’ve done it.
Do any of these children stop arguing from then-on-in? Of course not! But it disrupts the cycle and lightens the mood. And it’s funny – there’s something to be said for that. We get to walk away from the situation feeling pretty good about how we handled it, because we didn’t do the same old thing: the shouting-empty threat-crying cycle. It makes you feel like a creative parent.
Curious mindsets open the door to creative solutions.
Curious & Creative Relationships
What happens if you DON’T argue about “that thing” you always argue about? What happens if you do something completely unexpected, like admit to being wrong, or bringing home flowers, or picking up your underwear off the floor?
What if you acted curiously and creatively even without an impasse? What if you joined your spouse watching football on TV or made her breakfast in bed? What if… the possibilities were endless when we get curious and creative?
Curious & Creative Life
Imagine you approached everything in life with curiosity and creativity? How could you make house cleaning more fun? Relationships more interesting? Your drive to work more inspiring?
I’m not saying that you can solve every dilemma this way. But I am saying this:
You can certainly make most things in your life better by changing the stance you take when you deal with them.
It’s certainly an experiment worth trying. Remember: the ADHD brain is built on curiosity, expressed through creativity, and is driven towards fun and novelty. You have the power to put yourself into that mindset – any time you choose.
Life can never be perfect, but it can be better.
Indulging your creativity and curiosity will go a lot further towards giving you a Kick Ass Day then doing the same old thing will.