Use the Right Mindset to Free Your Creativity

Are you one of the many people whose mindset is that you are not creative? Your mindset affects the way you see your life, work, friends, and family. It frees you to explore or blocks you from your potential. Use the right mindset to free your creativity.

Against a background of spring green is a black silhouette of a woman with a brain sketched where it should be and the words "Use the right mindset to free your creativity."

What is a Mindset?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines mindset as “1: a mental attitude or inclination 2: a fixed state of mind.”

Many experts discuss mindset in terms of two large categories: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

People with a fixed mindset believe they cannot change their abilities, intelligence, or talents. They see those things as forever fixed. Their primary goal in life becomes to use what they have and to not look stupid or silly.

A growth mindset believe they can maximize their potential. They will try to maximize whatever they are interested in.

More than One

The difficulty of mindset is that most of us aren’t one or the other. We often have a growth mindset in some areas of our lives and a fixed mindset in others. Our mindset might be fluid according to our activity or age or other influences.

For years, I knew I was a creative and had a strong growth mindset in the skills and talents I saw as part of my creativity. But I had the opposite mindset about math. I believed I was not good at mathematics, that I simply couldn’t learn higher math. I had a fixed mindset about mathematics.

Growth and fixed are large umbrella terms for mindset.

Four Specific Mindsets

There are smaller, more specific types of mindsets. I’ll list four here.


A negative mindset is the attitude that criticizes everything and everyone. Every step will end in failure, no matter what. This is a fixed mindset. One cannot be creative in a negative mindset.


A linear mindset is just what it says. Then mental attitude or inclination is to think and move linearly. This is a valuable mindset that allows you to break a bigger task down into smaller steps.


A structural mindset is the inclination to put a framework to an unstructured problem. This mindset doesn’t seek answers outside that framework. But this mindset is also useful. To every creative endeavor, there are structural components that frame the execution of that endeavor. With stories, its beginning, middle, end (plus a lot more). With knitting, it is needle sizes, position of needle and yarn, and number of stitches (at the least). It’s helpful to apply a structural mindset to creative projects. A structural mindset can be limiting if you can’t step away from it to be creative.


Image is of a small brick building with heavy duty electrical wires coming for it to somewhere off camera. On the building is a colorful sketch of a sunflower and the words "always room to grow."

A creative mindset is a mental attitude or inclination to be creative. Read that again. A mental attitude is the key—not talent or ability. It an attitude that allows you to think, feel, and express creativity in your endeavors.

If you’ve decided you are someone who can bring something into existence—you already have a creative mindset. If you’ve decided you are not creative, you have a fixed idea of what you cannot do. You have a fixed mindset.

Characteristics of a Creative Mindset

According to Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. some characteristics of a creative mindset are:

  • Believes in One’s Own Creativity
  • Embraces Curiosity
  • Suspends Judgement—Silences the Inner Critic
  • Tolerates Ambiguity
  • Persists Even When Confronted with Skepticism & Rejection
  • Taps Into Childlike Imagination; a Child’s Sense of Wonder

Longtime readers of this blog know I agree with the “taps into childlike imagination.” See my post “Be a Child.” I agree with the other characteristics as well. But, silencing the inner critic and tolerates ambiguity need a brief explanation.

Judgement and the Inner Critic

Being able to suspend judgement and silence the inner critic isn’t a black and white situation. Judgement and inner critics will interrupt or stop a creative mindset. But judgement and inner critics are also a necessary piece of being a creative—at the right time.

Creatives must learn to suspend negative judgement and silence the negative inner critic. Negative mindset holds you back from the act of creation. Ideas must be able to flow freely without interference. It’s okay, in fact, it’s helpful, to make mistakes and improve your methods. Use your growth mindset judgement and inner critic to help you evaluate your creation when you are having difficulty executing your idea or when it’s complete.

Tolerating Ambiguity

What Ms. Gerstein meant to express in the idea of tolerating ambiguity revolves around idea creation. She states tolerating ambiguity is the ability to give way to new ideas, other viewpoints, etc.

I would reword this. Creatives must “tolerate the incubation of ideas.” Most creatives don’t have a complete creative idea pop into their heads. The development of a creative idea often comes over days, weeks, months, and even years. The more practice you have with creative thinking, the more quickly ideas will come. But ideas are often more like a treasure hunt than an instant step-by-step plan.

A Creative Mindset

image of scrabble tiles placed in a square spelling out yes you can.

Your mindset is at least 80% of your success. Some experts put it at 90% or more. Don’t let your mindset be a roadblock. Use the right mindset to free your creativity.

A Good Deed Brightens Your Day

I was having one of those Very-Bad-No-Good-Days. One of the worst I’d had in a long while. When along came a total stranger and he turned my day and my attitude around. I’m not just saying that. There is science that shows good deeds and volunteer work reduces stress. I hope the story of a good deed brightens your day will do that for you. It may even inspire you to pay-it-forward.

Image of a rainbow of heart shared from one hand to another a visual representation of a good deed brightens your day

The Day Started Cold

In August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was still going strong here in the USA. Because of my husband’s precarious health, we had kept a strict self-quarantine. Those precautions meant we’d both been healthier than we’d been in years. Then came the bad day.

It was chilly outside but still August so I didn’t want to turn on the heat. So we layered up. As all the ladies know, 99% of women’s clothing does not have adequate pockets. Certainly not pockets that would hold even an old iPhone.

I put on one of my husband’s soft, well-worn flannel shirts. Comfy and warm! And it had a chest pocket deep enough for my phone. I wore it all day.

Image of woman in indian print flannel shirt with an iPhone peeking out of the chest pocket.

The Trouble Starts

Our well-trained dogs followed their routine and began pestering me for their evening meal. I bent to retrieve their bowls in order to fill them. One bowl up, no problem. Second bowl—my iPhone went kerplunk into the large and full-to-the-brim water dish.I shrieked and snatched it out of the water as quickly as I could.

I dried it off and let it air dry the inner parts. Then I tried to make a call. I could call out, but the person on the other end of the phone line couldn’t hear me. At all. That person saw my caller ID and called me back.

But I couldn’t pick up their call.

Only One Solution

I tried a couple of other internet tips to dry my phone out. To no avail. I fought panic. Until the pandemic, my husband’s health issues caused him to fall frequently. Rarely could I help him back up by myself. If my son wasn’t available, I had to call 911. That happened about once every two months, even during the pandemic.

I quickly decided there was only one solution. I’d buy a new phone at the store down the street from us. Lo-and-behold, they did not have a single iPhone in stock. The telephone company we used didn’t have any. Nor did any nearby stores. I finally located one iPhone for sale at a store thirty minutes away. I placed an online order for it.

The Next Problem

Then I faced another conundrum. My husband was wheelchair bound. His physical weakness made transferring him into a regular vehicle difficult and dangerous for both of us. We planned to get a wheelchair van, but hadn’t found one yet. And though I rarely left my husband’s side for more than 15 minutes, we decided that his good health and our need for a working telephone out weighed my sense of caution.

So I studied the map (remember, no cell phone) and copied the directions. With both the written directions and a map in the car with me, I took off to an unfamiliar-to-me part of the city.

And Things Got Worse

image of a silver car with a flat tire and a jack ready to be pumped in order to change the tire

I was nearly at the store when I felt the car lurch. Then the flub-flub-flub of a fat tire filled my ears. I was on a busy, uphill stretch of a four-lane divided highway with a curb and no shoulder space. There was nowhere to pull over. I couldn’t call for help. And I had no idea where a gas station was. So, I turned on my hazard lights, moved to the right-hand lane, and slowed waaaay down. Hoping that at the top of the hill, I’d find a station or some place to pull over.

About half-way up the hill, my tire started sounding like parts of it were flapping in the wind. Crap! I slowed even further.

At the top of the hill was a Quick Trip, a convenience store and gas station. It offers no service for vehicles.

Asking for Help

Hoping I could add air to the tire, I pulled in to their lot and parked at the air pump. I should have known. My wheel sat on shreds of the tire. No way it would hold air. No way I was driving anywhere else. And I couldn’t loosen the lug nuts on my own. I’d have to find a phone, call a tow truck, and have them change the tire for me.

Inside the QT, I asked for a telephone and a telephone book. All I got from the teenaged clerk was a blank stare. I explained my cell phone wasn’t working, needed to call a tow truck, and repeated my request. Again with the blank look. I asked to speak to the manager. (No, I did not have AAA.)

A Little Help Better than None?

The manager was a pleasant woman who offered me her cell phone. Thank you, I said, but I don’t know where the closest tow truck or service station is or a phone number to call. She graciously looked up a number on her phone, dialed it, and handed the phone to me. I explained my situation to the person who answered the telephone. The tow service person told me it would be an hour or more before they could “get to me.” I didn’t want to wait an hour fearing my husband would fall and no one would know. I asked the manager if there was another tow service I could call. When she heard how long a wait I’d have, she offered to help me.

As we walked out to my car, she explained she had a bad back and wouldn’t be able to help a lot. Great.

A Good Deed Brightens My Day

Image of a man's hands using a wrench on the lug nuts of a tire

There was a sedan parked next to my car. We reached my car and the man in the sedan got out of his car and asked if I needed help.

The young, red-headed gentleman was in shorts and sandals. He changed my tire quickly and efficiently. Refused my offer to pay him something, or buy something from Quick Trip. He gave me directions to where I needed to go and drove off without even telling me his name.

He acted out of the kindness of his heart. And while he wanted no reward, he earned a ton of points toward many blessings that day.

I got to the store, and after a few issues, finally got my new iPhone and could drive home safely. To my immense relief, my husband hadn’t fallen during my extended absence.

The Moral of This Story

Image of a book opened to the quote "Never underestimate the power of a kind word or deed."

I will remember that young man for the rest of my life. His good heart, his good deed, not only brightened my day but meant I got home sooner. He knew nothing about me, yet lightened my worries. And though I thanked him profusely, I will always feel like I owe him.

He not only helped me in my time of need, he restored my belief in the goodness of people.

I tell this story often because a good deed brightens your day. It reminds me that doing a good deed and being kind brightens yours and at least one other person’s day. And retelling the story brightens even more people’s day. So think about that the next time you’re out and see someone in need. A moment of kindness will last forever. Won’t you brighten the day for all of us? Share your stories of a good deed in the comments. 

Random Acts of Love May Save Your Country

Photo of a pair of hands whose curled fingers meet and thumbs touch below to create a heart shaped space in the middle through which we see a shining sun.

In the United States of America, the news (print and electronic) says our country is in trouble. We’ve become so terribly, angrily divided by politics. Memes and click-bait stories scream inflammatory headlines. The computer and mobile phone cushion us from consequences. We say things out of anger and frustration or fear without thinking about the legacy those words leave behind. Random acts of love may be our only hope.

Those inflammatory headlines and the anger, frustration, and fear I’ve witnessed in the past few years inspired me to make this month’s theme Random Acts of Love. Read the first post, Random Acts of Love and then the second one, Inspirational Random Acts of Love.

I don’t know what your political persuasion is. And frankly, I don’t care. I care about you and about this country as both exist outside of politics. So when I read Dr. Karlyn Borysenko’s post on Medium, After Attending a Trump Rally, I Realized Democrats Aren’t Ready for 2020 , I knew I had to include it today. The lesson she learned is one I’ve been trying to practice and promote. Most people are good-hearted folk. They might disagree about politics or gender or religion but disagreeing with your position on those topics does not make them evil. Read the following selection of random acts and tell me what political beliefs these people have. Tell me what genders they support or what religion they follow.

So Simple A Child Can Do It

image of a row of shopping carts symbolic of the random act of love by this child

I was at Aldi (a supermarket in river head) and to get a shopping cart you have to put a quarter to reliece the cart. so when we were done shopping we loded the car and my dad told me to go put the cart back. and there was an old lady wit a cane going shopping. She needed a cart. so as she was about to put the quarter in I said ”here take my cart.” I gave it to her and she gave me a warm hug. I sprinted back to the car and buckeld up. —Kindness Stories.  

He Needed the Exercise

Leaving a store, I returned to my car only to find that I’d locked my keys and cell phone inside. A teenager riding his bike saw me kick a tire and say a few choice words.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

I explained my situation. “But even if I could call my wife,” I said, “she can’t bring me her car key, since this is our only car.”

He handed me his cell phone. “Call your wife and tell her I’m coming to get her key.”

“That’s seven miles round trip.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

An hour later, he returned with the key. I offered him some money, but he refused.

“Let’s just say I needed the exercise,” he said.

Then, like a cowboy in the movies, he rode off into the sunset.—Clarence W. Stephens, Nicholasville, Kentucky

Remembered with a Rose

a rose being handed to someone is another random act of love and kindness in this story

Seth Stewart of Spokane, Washington has spent the last eight years remembering the local widows, single women, and military spouses on Valentine’s Day. He and his brothers deliver a single rose to every one of those spouses on Valentine’s Day. He keeps a record of all the people’s names he has delivered roses to and each year asks his community on Facebook to help him identify additional people who need a remembrance on the holiday.

Hope, Love, and Kindness

From the child who gave his grocery cart away, to the barbers who give homeless men haircuts, to a dry cleaners offering to clean the clothes of any unemployed person going to a job interview, to women crocheting plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless, good-hearted people fill every corner of the world. They do random acts of kindness without regard to political, racial, or religious leanings. These random acts of love give one hope for our country and the world.

I hope my posts about random acts of love have inspired you. We express kindness and love for one another in the words we choose, the interactions we have, and the actions we take. It’s only through kindness and love for another that we can bridge generational gaps, gender gaps, and even political gaps. What random act of love and kindness touched your life?

Are We Having Fun?

It’s been an exhausting month so far (and Thanksgiving is yet to come!) I’ve been elbows to @$$holes with plumbing issues and caregiving and buying a wheelchair van AND continuing to write. It’s 6:30 pm CST Thursday and I don’t have a blog post for Friday morning. I have to ask myself, “Are we having fun?”

Plumbing issues

You can read a bit about my plumbing issues in my post, Life is Like Plumbing. Do I enjoy plumbing problems or fixing plumbing problems? Hmm. Not really. And yet…

As long as you’re having fun, that’s the key. The moment it becomes a grind, it’s over.

Barry Gibb

Learning Tons

Buying a wheelchair van has been stressful. I did a lot of research. Who knew there were different conversions? Different ways to enter the van? Not to mention the different vans with installed conversions. Do the tie downs come with the van? Is it ADA compliant? Is that important? So many things to learn, an overwhelming amount. And a lot of fear. We’re retired, on a limited income, how can we afford it? Can we qualify for a loan? And yet…

Background of mountains silhouetted against pink orange blue and purple sunset with Silhouette of girl jumping for joy and quote When you go to work, you want to have fun, because when you’re having fun, 
you’re not really working.  Xavier Woods

Missed Goals

My word count has suffered. I haven’t met my goals most days this month. I was feeling down. And yet…

I think that success is having fun.

Bruno Mars

Are We Having Fun?

I watched a video of a presentation at a writer’s conference I couldn’t attend. The speaker, an author, spoke about attitude. He spoke about nine points. All were good. The second point he mentioned was: Is it fun? If it isn’t, why do it, he asked.

So I asked myself, are we having fun? 

And the Answer Is…

Yes. A resounding yes. 

I’m doing exactly what I want to do, and I’m having fun doing it. David Johansen

I don’t always get to do exactly do what I want to do, but you know what? 

The joy I felt working with my son on the plumbing was real. And every day I turn on the faucet and have great water pressure and flow? Pure joy and gratefulness. 

The challenge of researching and learning about wheelchair vans nearly beat me. But I persevered. And when the right vehicle came along, I knew it was the right vehicle. And when the bank and the dealership had questions, I knew how to answer. Pride. Joy. And oh my gosh, this vehicle will make life a lot easier.

And when I stepped back and thought about the writing. Do I enjoy it? Heck, yeah! I get a great deal of joy and satisfaction out of writing. I’m so very grateful that I can do it. And you know what? When I looked at my word count, I’ve exceeded last month’s word counts and the word count for November 2018. Not too shabby.

Why Do We Care?

Why am I sharing this? Because we all get caught up in the shoulds and the could haves. But when we do, we’re focusing on the wrong thing. Focus on having fun.

Need Help To Find the Fun?

Are we having fun? This little girl is blowing bubbles, when's the last time you had fun?

Here are a few posts that might help:

Why You Need More Fun in Your Life

8 Ways to Make Your Life More Fun

How to Have More Fun In Life: Keep Your Thoughts from Pulling You Down 

Ask Yourself

Do you ask yourself, “Are we having fun?” Are there times when your answer is no? What did you do to turn it around?