Today we are in the middle of a revolution – the creative revolution. Science has found that children are way more creative than adults a long time ago – and now we know why: their minds aren’t limited by pre-conceived ideas about how things are supposed to work. Their minds use imagination to come up with solutions.
As we grown up, we slowly stop exercising that imagination muscle. Mostly because we are taught how things are “supposed to work”, thus losing the need to use creativity and imagination to solve problems.
Some great people out there, like Sir. Ken Robinson, have been taking action to make sure we educate our children in a way that preserves their innate creativity. If we fix the education system to make sure children reach adulthood with their full creative potential, we just might end up with a generation that will solve the biggest problems humanity faces, like global warming, over-population, poverty, war, etc. – all of that through creativity.
But what about us – the grown-ups who already lost those amazing skills? Creativity is a great tool for success and we could really use such skills in adulthood. Unfortunately, we only get to be kids once.
Is there a way for us grown-ups to get back the creativity we left behind?
We can’t go back in time, but we can try to THINK like children. We can try to get into the limitless mindset of a child. Our best bet is to connect to powerful, imaginative memories of our childhood – to go back in time inside our mind. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to do that. The belief in Santa Claus and the “holiday magic” we felt in our childhood could be the gateway into out childhood’s creativity.
Writing a letter to Santa Claus is a way to connect to your lost creativity while thinking about a specific problem. By allowing ourselves to believe in Santa again we can get into a more open-minded, creative state and hopefully see things from a different perspective.
There’s a lot of science that supports a positive outcome of writing a letter to Santa. Here are a few scientific facts:
1. Kids have great problem-solving skills adults lack.
There are many studies that support the theory that kids are better at figuring out creative solutions to problems than we adults are. One of them is this study by Dr. Alison Gopnik from Berkley University in California. She found that “children may be better at solving problems when the solution is an unexpected one.” She attributes the difficulties adults have in thinking that way to a loss of the wide-range inquisitiveness (curiosity) kids have. By tapping into our childhood memories and feelings, we just might be able to experience that creativity again.
2. Writing down your goals helps you achieve them
There’s something else you might have heard: writing down your goals is also considered a great tool for helping you achieve them. The simple act of putting your goals into words in a paper can help you see your objectives more clearly – thus allowing you to better trace a path to achieve them. Dr. Gail Matthews from Dominican University in California ran an experiment that supported this popular theory. In the study, groups who wrote down their goals were more likely to achieve them.
3. Handwriting rather than typing on a device helps us think more creatively
There are a few studies out there that show the positive relationship between handwriting and brain activity. When we handwrite – rather than type – a whole different part of the brain is activated. A study conducted by Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, observed that children would write more eloquently and even generate more ideas when handwriting. This and a few other studies are features in this interesting New York Times article.
How to write your letter:
Find a few minutes with yourself and sit down to write your letter. Here are a few guidelines to help you maximize your experience:
1. Grab pen and paper. The letter must be hand-written.
2. Make an effort to get into the mindset of a child: don’t be afraid to role-play. Take your mind to the beautiful memories of Christmas past.
3. Use simple words, like a child would.
4. Describe your problem.
5. Describe the solution you’re asking Santa Claus for. You can’t ask for something if you don’t know what that something is.
6. Be nice.
If you want to go further, you can actually send your letter to Santa. The website GrownUpLettersToSanta.com was created for that purpose – and it goes beyond. It leverages the creative power of a collective child-like mindset to get people to help each other. Submitted letters are on display so other people can comment, share resources and give advice.
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
While Santa is ever-present for our children, simply writing him a letter just might bring him back for us grown-ups. Merry Christmas.