How Creativity Can Ruin Your Life

Ruination gets such a bad press. Boy it’s one negative term. But what if you ruin something bad? Welcome to the concept of useful destruction.

We often describe negative behaviours using structural metaphors. We talk about patterns of behaviour. You get stuck in a rut. Or you get caught in a cycles of abuse, self or otherwise.

A lack of creativity is just as readily described in structural terms. The most obvious is thinking inside the box. Then there’s a creative block. And it’s literally true that in the brain, non-creative thought relies on well-established neural pathways.

In both cases, the way to positively change things is to destroy, disrupt – ruin – the structure that’s causing (or is caused by) the problem. The concept of iconoclasm pretty much encapsulates it in the cultural world. To produce something new and creative you need to break the icons whose status has been constructed as inviolable. You need to slay the sacred cow, not coax it gently off into retirement.

The serious conclusion of this parallel is that to change your life in a positive way is in a sense a creative act. Producing a new thought or behaviour, something that’s useful or valuable to you, especially when it is a non-obvious solution – when it’s something you discover; these are the very hallmarks of a creative idea. And to achieve this creative change can mean wrecking just as much as building. Come on, let’s give demolition a chance.