We often think of creativity as being about what comes next, what’s just around the corner.
In actuality, creativity isn’t about the future at all. It’s about what’s around us here and now, then being able to take that awareness and turn it into something actionable.
You can imagine what the world may look like 10 years from now, but that won’t do you any good if what you imagine requires leaps and bounds between technology, resources, and execution.
The alternative is to look around you right now to see what might be changed in order to actually create a future world.
This awareness of the present exposes us to what’s known as the adjacent possible: all the different ways the present can realistically change here and now.
It’s the adjacent possible which allows creative ideas to come to fruition, by uncovering what small, incremental, steps can be realistically taken. A carriage with a combustable or even steam-powered engine attached couldn’t have come before the horse-drawn carraige, it was simply unfathomable. By creating the carriage for horses to pull and the engine, it became feasible that attaching the enginge to the carraige might be a good idea.
What creative ideas are hiding just barely out of sight, waiting for you to merely notice them?
To discover the adjacent possible in any given moment there are two ways: by paying attention, or by getting lucky.
You can spend your entire life waiting to get lucky and never have a good idea. Hope for luck, but put in some of the work to pay better attention to the world around you too.
One way to do that? Mindfulness meditation, something that has scientifically been shown to improve creative output.
It’s not the act of meditation itself that is causing people to be more creative, it’s the point that meditation forces us to sit still for long enough to pay attention to what’s going on around us in the here and now.