One of the things I love about writing is my ability to be creative. Yes, I enjoy the isolation, and the chance to forget about all that pesky real stuff and submerge myself in an imaginary world, but that is not writing’s only allure. At the most fundamental level, writing is a creative pursuit where we use our imagination to produce something new that did not exist before.
I have often thought, that despite my complete lack of skill, I would find painting or drawing very pleasant. At work, when I am doing things that are not even vaguely artistic in nature, I still enjoy being creative.
There are some interesting links between creativity, happiness and innovation
To innovate, you need to use your imagination and ideas to generate new ways of doing things. In other words innovative people are creative people.
Creative and innovative people are said to be more in tune with their flow. They immerse themselves in their ideas and imagination, and this leads to them experiencing greater levels of happiness. This happiness often comes upon reflection of the creative activity.
Whether it is finishing a chapter, a book, or even a single sentence that you have been struggling to get just right, it is important to embrace this reflection time, because through this reflection comes our happiness and satisfaction, and so too the desire to continue to follow our creative pursuits.
When you are in your flow, you lose track of time and you submerge yourself in the task. When you emerge from the flow you reflect on what you have done. This submerging and emerging can happen throughout the creative cycle. It is one of the reasons that it is so important to stop and celebrate the little steps or successes on the way, especially if you are tackling a creative project that stretches over a long period of time.
The power of vulnerability and how it impacts our creativity
To be creative or innovative is to put ourselves in to a situation of vulnerability the moment we choose to share. Powerful things can happen when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, because without it we can never reveal our innermost thoughts and ideas, and it is only through the vulnerability of sharing that we can achieve our greatest hopes and dreams.
For some people sharing is easy, they accept the knock backs and failures, always focusing on their final goal. They use each iteration as a learning and platform to reach the next level of skill.
For others, sharing is hard. But even for those who struggle to share and to be vulnerable, there are ways of challenging ourselves. Susan Cain in her book Quiet, talks about how sensitive people can embrace vulnerability, and about how essential it is for growth. For example, she talks about her love of figure skating when she was younger, and how she could perform perfectly until she had an audience. For Susan, the fear of failure was incapacitating.
We never overcome vulnerability without embracing it and exposing it to the light of day. But there are ways that we can do so that offer less potential for scars. For example, entering a competitions outside your home town where there were no peers to see you fail. For a writer it could be releasing your work under a pen name, or through anonymous sharing sites such as wattpad.
Creativity, depression and health
Depression, by its very nature, can crush creative pursuits. Conversely, creativity has a positive impact on depression.
In The connection between art, healing and public health it explores the connection between visual art such as painting, drawing or pottery and how it impacted patients suffering chronic illness. They found that visual art acted to produce greater positive thoughts and emotions, and reduced negative emotions, stress, anxiety and depression.
Art, music and writing can impact us physically as well. In this study Effect of written emotional expression on HIV it showed that the act of writing actually improved the patient’s immune system.
It’s not just about the arty stuff
If you are not a singer or a writer, or painting really isn’t your thing, then fear not. Being creative can mean different things to different people. It is really just about using your imagination, new ideas, and new links between ideas, to create or solve something. You could be creating a business plan, or a meal to share with your family. There are many ways to embrace your creative side.
Chilli in chocolate…seriously that is a stroke of creative genius 😉
It just makes us (and others) happy
I realise chilli chocolate is not for everyone, but I am going to confess that it makes me pretty damn happy every time I eat some. So thank goodness for the first person who decided to pop some in that chocolate vat. Happy chef, happy chocolate customer.
The same for books, I love writing books, but I love reading them just as much. Happy writer, happy reader.
That new whizzy techno app you just downloaded on your phone? That’s someone else’s innovative and creative prowess you are admiring. Happy app producer, happy phone user.
We should all embrace our creative side, because not only does it make us happier, and healthier, but the results share the happiness around. In conclusion, creative pursuits, whether it is writing, dancing, music, or even whipping up a culinary delight, is good for you both mentally and physically. And that’s pretty powerful stuff.