"Necessity is the mother of invention". Sounds reasonable, but is it true?
Necessity leads us to respond. But will we respond with invention? Will we be creative? Will our imaginations run free? Will we be open to new ideas and approaches? The answer depends on whether the situation stresses us out or whether we feel completely at ease.
If we respond with stress, we will NOT be creative. We will NOT invent. But if we respond in a relaxed, positive way we will maximize our creativity.
Barbara Fredrickson, author of "Positivity", has done research for decades on the creativity associated with positive emotions versus the limited options found with negative emotions. If we react to our problems with stress, we react to necessity by fighting, fleeing, or freezing.
- We fight: "It's not fair! It's not MY fault! It's HIS fault!"
- We flee: "I'm out of here."
- We freeze: "I don't know what to do."
There is no creativity in these limited, stressed out responses. This is the teenager explaining why there is nothing he can do about a problem at school, nothing he can do about his poor diet, etc. If, instead, we are deeply relaxed, confident, at ease, then our options are wide open.
When we are relaxed, we drop our guard and are open to ideas. We explore. We learn. We build on ideas. The intuitive part of our brain is more active. Stress shuts down the thinking part of our brain as the faster acting primitive brain seizes control to react more quickly to danger. Relaxation returns control to the thinking and intuitive brain. We are then ready to explore, discover, think, brainstorm and invent.
The real mother of invention is not necessity. The real mother of invention is a relaxed, positive response to necessity. So whenever you have a difficult problem to solve or a creative task to accomplish, start with a deep breath.