Aging, in general, gets a bad rap. Though it’s true that as you age your body slowly goes through changes and all vital organs begin to lose some of their function. A seventy year old may not be able to compete physically with a twenty year old in a marathon, but there’s one area where they could run rings around someone decades younger… creativity. And creativity gets better with age.
Let me see if I can sum it up in a simple, non technical way. Much of creativity is about making connections. You need a wide range of connections in order to cross-polinate those ideas into new ideas. So to put it another way, the older you get, the more “stuff” you have in your brain to connect.
Because you’ve done and seen more, learned more and lived more, by the time you reach your senior years you’re better able to see the big picture. As Steve Jobs put it “Younger people don’t have enough dots to connect”.
So, am I looking forward to getting older from a creative point of view? You bet! But just getting older doesn’t make you more creative. Creativity is something that needs to be constantly used, like a muscle. The more you use it and challenge yourself, the better it gets.
Here are some ways to challenge your creativity:
- Expand your social circles – You can learn something from everyone. If you only hang out with people who are exactly like you, that’s all you ever learn. Expand your circle to include people who are drastically different from you, with different backgrounds, different ages, different career paths, different cultures.
- Read constantly – No matter how much you read you will never tackle it all in your lifetime. But make an attempt to. Become a living sponge and absorb all of the knowledge the world has to offer.
- Keep an open mind – Learn to see both sides of an argument. Engage in conversation with people you disagree with. This challenges you to think beyond your own world view.
Once you begin to see the endless possibilities the aging brain is capable of, the more exciting creativity itself becomes. It’s like a book that’s never completely finished.