How Not Being Creative is Harming Your Very Survival

Creativity and survival are more closely linked than you might think.

I read recently that one of the things (and I think this is majorly important) that holds people back from enjoying life, seeing success and moving ahead, is a little thing known as reactivity.

Being reactive to a situation, a person or a perceived ‘problem’ means being on auto-pilot. Reacting is not thinking; it is letting emotions control us, before we gather thoughts to actually think something through.

Reactivity is being passive instead of active.

Reactivity is seen in the man who digs himself deeper and deeper into debt. It is seen in the young lady who won’t stop comfort eating, and the guy who seeks approval from other people before feeling satisfied enough (in the short term) that he is a ‘worthy’ human being. Reactivity is effectively the process of dying. Each act of passivity, of non-action you take is harming your own survival as a human.

Being reactive is seeing yourself as the victim. How often do you make yourself out to be the victim? How often do you blame the world around you for your ‘misfortunes’? How many times have you flipped this around and become the owner of what you are doing, seized control, taken responsibility for your life and seen the tremendous advantage that this attitude brings?

Creativity is the opposite of reactivity.

When we create, we are proactive, we are moving forward, we are owning, and we are actually living.

I’d love to hear your comments below!

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  1. I enjoyed the article, I have not actually thought this might be holding me back creatively, but I think being too passive and not active is definitely pro-active, thanks again for the thoughts.

  2. IT is true I have had history of reactive behavior and it gets you in trouble.Stop first then proceed.I can see the results.

  3. Hey Alex, this is a very insightful article. I believe the reason why we often fall into this trap of victim-mentality, is when we stubbornly harbor limiting & negative beliefs about ourselves. To begin to change that, I try to understand where these beliefs come from and proceed to reframe my ideas to become more positive. Gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving too. 🙂

    I agree with you that creatively living life is learning what we’re truly made of and no longer waiting for others to validate our worth. Cheers!

  4. To be creative, to create anything, one must make choices. It matters not the medium. When I paint I must choose every color, shape and brush stroke. There is no room to be reactive only proactive. The more I create the more confident I become in the choices I make. This then shows up in other areas of my life as well and like choice the paint usually ends up not just on the canvas but on my clothes, in my hair and on my dog as well.

  5. Hi Alex,

    Interesting post, and so true. Actually this week I was listening to a series of podcast from about Reacting Vs Responding, and they were reaching a pretty similar conclusion, that you need to be proactive and take action in your life.

    Sometimes we react because of fears or stress, and the best way to fight this is to take action, little by little, so creating certainly applies to it!

  6. ” Reacting is not thinking; it is letting emotions control us…
    Reactivity is being passive instead of active.”

    This is excellent Alex, well said! While I’m a proactive person, never quite thought of it like this. Not whining about what is, but creating something better, growth, solutions, etc. as an individual, a business, and yes a designer!

  7. “When we create, we are proactive, we are moving forward, we are owning, and we are actually living.”
    This post certainly spoke to me…I cannot tell you how many times I’ve resisted when others have told me that I need to create my life. The way you said it – motivates me. Thank you!

  8. To be honest, that’s close to how I have been feel but this past week I’ve felt like I’ve relit my creative flame that I love and have missed. This article made me feel like I wasn’t the only one and answered the question why wasn’t being proactive. Thanks!

  9. Wow.. When I saw the link through to this article, I thought it was going to be another one of the many posts telling us to “draw more” or “spend time in nature”. As an artist, I was still curious to read a post about creativity, and am really glad I clicked on the link. The thoughts in the article are so much more powerful than any advice of the other kind!! 🙂 Thanks for this, it really gets one to think and analyse.

  10. Alex. Really great post. In my opinion using creativity rather than reactivity is fundamental to leading a happy an contented life. I was lucky to learn this, but only about 10 years ago. There are many moments of course when I forget it and have to remind myself. When I come up against a reactive person I now find I have more compassion for them; I was there once and they just haven’t learned this… yet.

    • 10 years ago is certainly better than nothing. You’re right about having to be reminded. Learning to stay creative is a constant process :).

  11. Being passive may as well be death.
    Not ready to die yet, so I think I’ll just go do what I always do and CREATE!

  12. Great post man! Really got me thinking there. I love a short post like this. Inspiring, compact and easy to digest.

    Most reactive people always believe that they are acting this way because they are born/raised this way. What they didn’t know is that anything can be changed if they are in control (proactive). 🙂

  13. I disagree with simplifying reactivity and creativity. Reactivity can be congenital,subconscius as a reflex or learned by us and it can influance or even give beginning for creativity. Creativity is not just positive thinking, I would say it is very very complex.

  14. Read into my mind with this one. I read the article aloud to a loved one, to which they turned around and told me this was me. Takes an article like this boot me into shape Nd start being more proactive and letting the group dynamic take hold thus grinding my thoughts and actions to a holt

  15. This is a really insightful piece. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a little while now but just couldn’t quite put my finger on it. How empowering! 😀

  16. Good point well made. The times in my life when I’ve been creative instead of reactive (a trap I have often fallen into) have given me the love of my life (18 years and still going strong) and saw me leave a career I didn’t enjoy to set up my own successful, growing company.

  17. What’s making me pro-active those days are your posts here.
    I took the time to think about them, and must admit this convinced me to take resolutions for that new year. Beginning with taking the time to think more, and adjust reactivity to creativity. I think you’re underlining very important points. Those ones that need to be repeated several times a year to feel them alive and effective.
    And furthermore, this also makes me improve my english with new & fresh subjects… which changes me from advertising glossary, and boring daily stuffs on the internet… Happy +1 to you…
    Niko /

  18. But… Because there’s a but… I share that point of view about the obvious complexity of the relation between reactivity and creativity. It’s not that simple……

  19. I am very, very creative. But that too may hamper my, economical, survival, because creation can be, but doesn’t have to be, action and result. To create a business concept or product to me is very very easy. To do all the work to put it in the world can be hard work.

  20. Reactivity is seen in the the guy who seeks approval from other people before feeling satisfied enough. Good one “thumbs up”

  21. I am very glad I found this blog. I have only just arrived and just read two different posts and felt like you were hitting the right spot for me. Thanks for this, you’re great!

  22. I have been feeling stuck, in my job, in my responsibilities. I started a blog as something I can do now that may lead to new possibilities. I felt I needed to take action of some sort. It has stirred up the creativity I haven’t had in my life for a long time. The blog is

  23. There are some great ways to train yourself not to react. Mosquito meditation for example. Next time there’s a mosquito on you. Try and accept it. Let it do it’s thing and fly off on its own accord. Then don’t scratch! This kind of training can build character through acceptance and teach you non-reaction.

  24. Great article! I found that a lot of the negativity and dark feelings in life can be countered by active thinking and attempting to take control of what is happening around you, rather than letting external influences dictate your behavior.

  25. You really touched the most important topic here. Well at least for me 🙂 Being able to take responsibility for your life in every aspect possible is what we should all aspire to, right? Creativity translates into freedom – freedom of choice and freedom of caring for other people’s opinions. As long as you are living up to someone else’s expectations and not your own, you are just a reactor, not a creator. Freedom takes guts. But only freedom is true happiness 🙂 Great article, thank you!

  26. Oh Alex!!!

    You’re a single mom! Just kidding. But as I read this article I thought, “He is a fly on the wall of my mind!” Creativity for me was being snuffed out by one bad experience after the other and I blamed life (reacted to life) because of those experiences and never found my way back to being creative. Still trying to figure out how But this article is a great starting point.

    Thanks Mama Bear.

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