So, recently, my boyfriend and I went to the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. Keep in mind, he’s a super artistic, creative mind that excels at things like design and abstract-thinking. I, on the other hand, love beautiful things and can appreciate the aesthetics of life, but I’ve never been a person who truly ‘gets’ art.
I consider myself semi-creative when it comes to copywriting or projects for work, but I’ve never been able to grasp the full length of imagination and fountain of ideas that spur from my boyfriend’s brain at a mile a minute.
This got me thinking more about creativity as a whole, as well as the origin and purpose behind it. As someone who is not very artistic, I wanted to dive deeper and understand the evolutionary purpose of creativity. After reading my cousin Allen’s book, The Creative Curve, it helped me better understand how creativity manifests itself in all walks of life, not just in the artist’s. This book showcased creative thinking across government, chefs, tech mongols, and more, which was extremely interesting, but I still didn’t have an answer to my question.
I wanted to discover the purpose of creativity from a historical and biological perspective. Could it be that creativity is the one thing standing between us and animals? Is our ability to imagine, test, and build truly unique? But then I thought, that can’t be the case, because animals such as monkeys and chimps are highly intelligent and have been proven able to do similar processes.
So then---why? Why are we creative? The further I researched, the more complex things got.
The short answer to the evolutionary purpose of creativity is that humans have an innate ability to detect novelty in their environment, and that is essential to survival.
Novelty is anything new and unfamiliar, that sparks curiosity and deviates from regular lifestyle patterns. In nature, this can either be good or bad depending on what it is that the animal discovered. However, often times that new discovery was found to be good, and it actually enhanced the species as a whole, allowing us to adapt and evolve to become better, faster, and stronger.
Today, we don’t need to worry about detecting the unfamiliar and adapting accordingly to survive, but creativity still plays a vital role in innovation, discovery, and societal changes. Creativity is rooted in everything from that new Ariana Grande song you like all the way to discovering the cure for cancer. It may have started as an evolutionary purpose to help animals detect changing environments, but it's obvious that today, creativity is a backbone of modern society. My dive down the rabbit hole of research on this topic hasn’t helped me understand the creative mastermind that is my boyfriend any better, but it has made me at peace with how I view creative-thinking.
Well, now that I have my answer, I suppose I should stop rambling about this topic! However, if you’re curious and want to learn more about the purpose behind creativity, I attached some of my research sources: National Geographic, Scientific American, The Origin of Creativity, and Royal Society.
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