Global Resilience Solutions > 2012 > May

Boosting Your Creativity for a Happier Life

The urge to create is an intensely human one. Archaeologists primarily use cave paintings to determine the point at which we became truly human. The earliest of these paintings was created 34 000 years ago. Every person that has ever lived has felt the urge to leave some record, some imprint behind; they want some mark to show, “I was here, and I accomplished something.” Whether that was a particular kill as drawn on a cave wall or a novel worthy of a Pulitzer, we crave the translation of our innermost thoughts and self to some sort of artistic expression. This may take any form, from visual art (sculpture, painting, etc.) to music, dance, writing or even acting out another character in theater.

To deny this creative instinct is to cut off an essential aspect of your humanity and to suffer the emotional consequences.  In other words, creativity is fundamental to your Personal Resilience!  Human beings are creative by nature and not happy unless they’re in creation mode.

And yet, many people choose to abandon their creative pursuits, often unconsciously: whether it’s a new job, a new relationship or the arrival of children, many find that life seems to conspire against the very time and energy they once used to be creative.  But it’s never too late – you can reclaim and nurture your creativity…

Three Ways to Nurture Your Creativity

Document Your Experience: Many people have discovered that finding originality and significance in a sometimes random-seeming series of personal experiences can bring meaning to their lives. This can be achieved through artistic journaling, scrapbooking, or painting. You can make it whatever you want. I have a friend that has a journal composed completely of poetry. Remember: it doesn’t have to be museum-worthy! As long as you’re expressing yourself, you’ll reap the rewards. However, if you’re up to it, studies have shown that actually sharing a personal creation with others stimulates the same pleasure centres in the brain as sex, sleep and eating.

Act Out: Live your life in a way that is extra-ordinary. Creativity doesn’t have to be restricted to creating masterpieces but also to creating a life that is imaginative and inspired. It’s about making creative choices in the situations that confront you day by day. Make up a new recipe! Go on a road trip! Take a different route to school or work. Park/get off the bus early and walk to your destination. Try a new sport. Nurture curiosity, positivity and open-mindedness.

Imagine you wake up one morning and put on electric-green eye shadow instead of your usual beige tint. Then you call a friend and invite her on a spontaneous road trip to a city you’ve never visited. While there, you order dessert for lunch at the local diner. Then on the way home you tell a long, hilarious anecdote that makes your friend  laugh for two minutes straight. Would you call such a day merely interesting, or an expression of your creative self?”

– Carlin Flora, Psychology Today

Support the Creativity of Others: Try going to the plays, poetry readings, ballets, open mic nights, improv sessions, opera and concerts in your community. From Shakespeare in the Park to your local community theatre, soaking up the artistry of others can help you develop your own sense of creativity and stimulate your own imagination. Helping to support the arts in your community will also feel great!

Three Ways to Quash Your Creativity

Fear Failure: Being afraid of what could happen if you try something unusual or unique is a surefire way to lead a less creative life. Don’t be afraid that what you create won’t meet some imagined standard. Don’t fall into the kind of thinking that being “creative” or “talented” is genetic – that stops many people from trying something they’ve never tried before. They only try things they think they’ll succeed in. If you want to squash your creative impulses – be afraid of embarrassing yourself!

Self-Censorship: This means that you only of things that are ‘okay’ to think about, revealing only the parts of yourself that you are happy with. It means expecting nothing less than to be perfect in all that you say and do. It’s also a very good way to prevent the unrestricted flow of ideas. On that note, another good way to prevent creativity is to …

Wait for the Perfect Idea: No need to go out and buy paint supplies, register for a class, or start a blog – the perfect way to quash creativity is to wait for it to fall into your lap. Innovation is close at hand, but you do have to reach out and grab onto it! A excellent way to let a perfectly good idea pass you by is to dismiss it in favour of a possibly better one.

A Challenge for You

Creativity is a valuable part of society and of us. Cultivate it in order to become the most positive, bright and fully-rounded version of yourself. Being open to new ideas, new innovations and fresh methods of building your health and your resilience will all come from creative thinking. Encourage your creativity this week!  Here’s a challenge to help you…

  1. Write down your current creative outlets
  2. What other forms has creativity taken in our life?
  3. Which of those, if any, would you consider doing again (assuming you had all the resources necessary to do it)?
  4. Pick one creative thing to do over the next week and pay close attention to how good it makes you feel to think about it and then to do it!

I’ll conclude with some quotes about creativity from a totally exceptional group of creative young people:

To me, creativity is about taking a different approach to an problem than other people would. Doing that is fulfilling, and you get recognized for that.”

Art represents all that is fun, interesting and innovative in the world.”

In order to be creative your mind has to be relaxed. That’s how your right brain works. That’s why you get your best ideas while taking a walk or in the shower. So really, it’s good motivation to de-stress.” [Notice here the mind-body connection!]

Creativity gives you perspective and balance.”

Being creative is an outlet. Without that outlet I personally feel I that I wouldn’t be living to my full potential.”

Creativity is … thinking deeply about our experience, about life, and providing a unique take on it.”

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 


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