Creativity … in Singapore!

Below is an interesting article by a Swedish writer, an author on creativity, about how Singapore is the best place in the world to be creative.

But the main reason I live in Singapore is because this city-state, to me, is the one place on earth where it is the easiest to have a globally-creative mindset.

Some people say Singapore is “Asia for beginners”. I do not agree. I think Singapore is “globalisation for beginners”, or rather, “globalisation for early adopters”.

With a diverse mix of races, religions and nationalities, Singapore not only represents the cross-section of the world, it is also a time capsule of what the world will look like in the future.

And I love that. 

Personally, I agree with most of the points he has made.  I’ve met many friends and seen many Singaporeans who are very creative.  Singaporeans are very creative when it comes to circumventing the rules. ^.^

In this respect, I find that in many cases, Singaporean’s creativity is borne more out of need than simply a desire to create, to build, to explore.

The downside of the former type of creativity is that when the environment is too comfortable or too protective, then the fuel for creativity may also dies off.  In contrast, the latter has a curiosity about the world, the desire to explore and create, and so may not be so easily affected by the environment.

Lightning strikes during the eruption of the huge Galunggung volcano, West Java, in 1982. [1]

Another aspect is culture.  Is our culture conducive for and encouraging creativity?

  • Openness to change
  • Non-aversion to failure
  • Curiosity of the world

Openness to change – If an organisation or a society becomes complacent with status quo and becomes too vested in existing ways, then it may not be open to changes.  Stability in a group or society is often seen in contrast to change.  But if we look at nature, the natural world goes through cycles of changes to maintain balance and stability.

There is no unchanging stability, only stability in changes.

“Sabbe sankara aniccati – All formations are impermanent” ~ Buddha.

Non-aversion to failure – No one wants pain or harm, but if the fear of it is disproportionately high, then one lives safely in fear of danger.  Extreme aversion to failure can immobilise us to adopt a “多做多錯” “The more one does, the more errors one (may) make”, leading us to have a “少做少錯” “The less one does, the less errors one (may) make” attitude, concluding in refusal to move altogether “不做不錯” “If one does nothing, then he makes no errors”.

Our attitude and response towards “failure” shapes how we and others may attempt to try things that we have never tried before.  How we define “failure” and deal with it affects our willingness to try.

Humans did not evolve and survive as a species simply by not doing anything or sticking to eating ‘safe’ food.  We explore and tried out unsafe and sometimes potentially dangerous and fatal endeavours to reach where we are.

The Buddha left the safety net of the royal palace and kingdom to find the Truth, so that a Cessation of Suffering may be found.  And he did … not from the confines and shelter of the palace walls, but by venturing out and TRY!

Curiosity for the World – In a way, this should be the primary driving force of creativity, but without the earlier two, one’s curiosity for the world may either be hampered or dulled down.  I once read or heard someone comment that

“The role of a teacher is not simply to teach,
but to inspire the students to learn.”

Teaching is hardest when there is no interest to learn.  And this interest must come from within.  Inspiring students to learn is to spark that interest within the students, and then to give the students the space and tools to explore the world.

With this curiosity for the world, creative can spring forth.

Bachalpsee in the Swiss Alps [1]


I sometimes wonder if the brightest minds such as Issac Newton and Einstein will still be as creative if they had to study through all their own discoveries before they are allowed to explore the world and discover. :p



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