How People Watching Fuels Creativity

I have resolved to put into practice the Huffington Post’s 18 things highly creative people do differently. It’s one of the best articles on practical creativity I have ever seen. Let me be clear. I don’t see myself as necessarily a “highly creative” person, but I’d really like to make strong headway in that direction. So on Easter Sunday I decided I would begin by taking advantage of a unique opportunity to carry out one of the eighteen: People Watching.

Tube Station

About people watching the Huffington Post article says:

Observant by nature and curious about the lives of others, creative types often love to people-watch — and they may generate some of their best ideas from it.

“[Marcel] Proust spent almost his whole life people-watching, and he wrote down his observations, and it eventually came out in his books,” says Kaufman. “For a lot of writers, people-watching is very important … They’re keen observers of human nature.”

So on Easter Sunday I had the opportunity to observe two groups of people. I was able to observe the roughly 400 people that worshipped at my church on one of the highest festivals of the church year.

  • I saw faithful people who are in church every Sunday bring friends and relatives along with them to worship.
  • I saw people who claim to be members of the church and yet are only in worship about once or twice a year.
  • I saw volunteers who set up chairs outside for the Sunrise Service, cook Easter breakfast, and usher the throngs that showed up for church.

In contrast, my wife, Tammy, and I spent the afternoon at Disney’s EPCOT. Easter Sunday at a theme park is an interesting thing.

  • I saw families from the north sunburned, tired, and dragging crying kids.
  • I saw people wearing things they would never wear in the outside world.
  • I observed employees, some who seemed to be walking through their day, and others who seemed to be truly enjoying what they were doing.

So where’s the juxtaposition?

  1. Both groups of people were committed to something: one to their church (regardless of the reason), the other to their tourist plan.
  2. Both groups of people dealt with crowds the best way they could.
  3. Both groups of people were (mostly) filled with joy.

People watching most certainly fuels creativity. Based on this day alone I could write about:

  • Dress codes
  • Crowd behavior
  • How church members and tourists compare with one another
  • What motivates people in specific situations
  • The way people direct their money
  • The difference between church volunteers and theme park employees
  • What the church could learn from Disney
  • What Disney could learn from the church

People watching with purpose and attention can bring about a creative bonfire in your brain. Give it a try. No matter your form of creativity, it will be a boon to your art.

How has people watching fueled your creativity?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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