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Creativity doesn’t know age

It seems today that when we hear about creative geniuses, they all seem to be quite young, such as Mark Zuckerberg becoming a billionaire when he was in his early twenties. Or Bill Gates at just 29 years old. Pablo Picasso and Einstein having their breakthroughs at just their twenties as well. So are we to believe that a moment of creative insight and to be a genius is in our early lives? That as we move into our 50’s and our second phase of life our creative days are slipping away? Absolutely not.

If you’re a reader of Silver Magazine, you know we don’t subscribe to such a silly notion! There are many cases of people who have their genius creative moment later in life. Mario Puzo wrote The Godfather when he was 45. Julia Child’s first book was published when she was 49. Grandma Moses began her painting career in her 70’s.

There are many more examples out there of these late bloomers. It may be argued that when we’re over 47 and moving into the second phase of life, we’re actually better positioned to have creative insights.

And insight is a critical word. Humans have made their greatest progress when they have insights. Some are big insights, some are smaller, perhaps as simple as solving what we thought was a complex problem repairing something at home or building something. Insights are more available to us when we are constantly seeking new knowledge. When we’re moving into our second half of life, we have more knowledge and we have lived experience. The more experiences you have and the more you work on building knowledge, the more opportunity for insights you will have.

Building opportunities for insights and creativity

Having an “a-ha” moment releases a rush of dopamine in your brain. It can be a big or little rush, but just about everyone has experienced those kind of moments. When it all comes together and you just feel great! So what can you do to give your brain those opportunities for insights?

Build your knowledge. Constantly. Set a daily or weekly extended reading time. Printed books and magazines are best. We retain less information in our brain by just reading online. Find books that will expand your knowledge. If you have a particular passion for one topic, fine, but it’s also very helpful to find books outside your main area of interest. Gaining different perspectives helps you connect dots in different ways.

Take notes when you read or even journaling every day can help. When we write things down on paper, it helps our brain retain more details and can spark a moment when you write out an idea.

Seek new experiences. Get outside! Go exploring. Find new trails to hike, go on vacation to somewhere you might not normally think to go. If you go somewhere really new, find an Airbnb in a neighborhood so you can experience the community more. Try a sport or fitness routine that’s new. Maybe a martial art? Our brains love oxygen and they love new experiences. Bring those together with growing your knowledge, you’ve got the winning combination for insights.

Lastly, don’t be afraid. Step up, step out, be bold. There’s no reason not to be. The more we take chances, the better our mental resilience and the better we exercise our brains to stay sharp as we age. Research shows that exercising our brains can play a key role in fighting off dementia and other diseases of ageing.

Get out there, go buy some books, learn, explore and create!

More Insights: Check out this article by Silver’s editor, David Holt on achieving your flow state.

Author: Giles Crouch is the group publisher for HUM@Nmedia, parent brand for Silver Magazine. He is also a digital anthropologist and writes on the intersection of humans and technology and the weird stuff we do with our digital lives.