10 ways in which creativity makes life better
One of the things I catch myself saying often is 'creativity makes life better'. A while back, I realized that if I was going to be saying that trying to convince people to sign up for our services, I'd better come up with some examples to back my claims up! So, I set myself the task of coming up with 10 ways creativity can help - no magic wands, no over-inflated promises: just simple ways that living creatively can make life more alright more of the time.
When I began writing, it took a while to come up with the first few... And then they flew... Here are 10 for starters!
Benefits of creativity #1: Joy
Do you sometimes feel like you’re living on a conveyer belt? Moving from one set of jobs to the next? Connecting with your creativity will help you find joy in even the most mundane days.
It’s not always possible to find the time or energy to get started on a big new project. The magic of being connected with creativity makes it easy to find little pockets of joy sprinkled throughout the day. In time, it comes without effort. There’s no preparation or special equipment needed. Something catches your eye, makes your heart sing, and inspires you to capture it in some way.
That capturing might just be a quick sketch on the back of an old receipt. It might come in the form of a line that turns into more lines that becomes a poem. It might make you think of making music. There’s no telling how it will express. The magic comes from the noticing and being open to the potential for joy.
Do you sometimes feel like your head might explode? So much whirling about that you don’t know what to do with yourself? When we’ve got multiple plates spinning, it can feel like our mind’s just jumping from problem to problem and we’re not getting any closer to solutions. Creativity can help. In two ways:
- Actively: Simple creative exercises help get all of the problems out of our heads and onto paper. Then we can start playing around with them and exploring possible solutions.
- Distract-ively: (ok, that may be a made-up word- but it works!) Brilliant activities keep our hands and senses busy - leaving our brains free to search for solutions.
Our brains are wonderful things. When we’ve got tricky situations, it will sift through every scenario we have ever experienced, trying to find similarities. Once it finds similarities, much like a computer program, it will compare that scenario with our current predicament, to see if whatever worked then will help us now. It’s amazing! But it’s bloody exhausting to be conscious of it.
Here’s the thing: It will happen whether we are tuned into it or not. We get to choose whether we pay attention to the chatter or give ourselves something more lovely to occupy our minds with. That’s creative distraction.
If we want to use creativity to help us actively solve a problem, there are a whole heap of learnable strategies for doing this. Trying to think outside of the box can be painful. Frustrating. Unproductive. There are creative techniques that get results. These are learnable. In time, they become second nature. With practice, your creativity can become your go-to Every time you have a problem, you will know where to turn. Pretty handy eh!
Do you get to the end of the day with just about enough energy to watch a bit of telly and scroll through some social? End up going to bed tired but busy-brained? Creativity can help you properly relax so you get a better night’s sleep. I’m not just talking ‘colouring for grown-ups’ (although that can be great!). Actively connecting with your creativity can help shift stress, get into a state of flow, and restore a sense of equilibrium. We all know that spending loads of time in front of a screen is not good for us. The trick to not getting sucked in is not turning the thing on in the first place. Instead, getting busy with a project can help shift the energy of the day and leave us feeling ready for a delicious sleep. It works.
#4: It’s exciting!
Do you hate January? How about February? Bleeeeeurghhh. But guess what! All is not lost!! Your creativity is sitting ready to add colour to these most winter-some of months.Most of us can’t swap everything for a hammock in the tropics. But we can all tap into our imaginations, inspirations, and memory banks. And then, we can create havens. Somewhere to hide out until Spring arrives.
Once we’ve got in the habit of connecting with our creativity, we can use it ALL THE TIME. For free!! To do all sorts of stuff. Isn’t that just about the most exciting fact about us humans?
#5 Figuring out why you’re in the mood you’re in
Do you sometimes wake up in a bad mood and don’t know why? Feel sadder than you think you should? Creativity can help you figure out why. When we’re in ‘one of those moods’, there can be a pull to hide away from the world. To turn to familiar comforts until the feelings have passed. This is totally understandable. Life can feel bloody tough at times and when we're stressed or exhausted, we go to our go-tos. And that's alright. The not-alright is that sometimes it doesn't feel like a choice. The not-knowing is uncomfortable. There are some simple creative exercises will help you understand yourself better. So you feel like you have choices. It is a liberation.
It might not always tell us what we want to hear - but our creativity always speaks the truth. Connecting with it is a surefire way of getting to know ourselves better. Knowledge is power! Once we know what’s going on, we can make choices about how we tend to it. Not always easy - but worth it.
Benefits of creativity #6: Making sense of the world
Do you sometimes wish that you could press pause and take the time to figure some stuff out?
Staying steady in today’s noisy world is a tall order.
Creativity can be your oasis. A little island of calm, always available to you. Just for you. A place of your own to take stock, make sense of things and plan your next move.
There are creative activities you can use to help you step off the merry-go-round. Creative activities help you figure out which messages to listen to and which ones to ignore. It takes practice but once we’ve got these tools in place, they can serve us time and time again.
Benefits of creativity #7: Communicating our experience
Do you ever feel like no one understands you? (And then feel slightly embarrassed because that sounds like something a teenager would say?!). Communication is HARD. Creativity can make it easier.
We don’t get taught how to do it well. So, too often as grown-ups, we end up feeling unheard or misunderstood. Connecting with our creativity opens up more options to us so we are more able to share our experiences with other people. Sharing our experiences = feeling connected = feeling warm and fluffy = winning at life.
Us humans, we can lead such solitary existences (even when we spend most of our time surrounded by other people). We can get so caught up in the words and lists in our heads. But that‘s not what we’re cut out for. We’re pack animals. We’re designed to communicate with others.
Finding ways of sharing our experiences gives us more opportunities for being understood. And this is when we feel our best. Simple. Not easy. But learnable. And the more we do it, the easier it gets. Promise.
Benefits of creativity #8 Improved self-esteem
Do you sometimes feel that you’re living at full tilt but never really shining? Moving from job to job without any real sense of satisfaction?
Creativity can help you feel better about yourself.
The feeling that comes from finishing a project is like no other. Having an idea, gathering the materials. Playing around with figuring out how to get from A to B. Spending quiet time, working with your hands. It’s multi-sensory - the scritch of pen on paper, the ping when colour sparks colour pop, the warm smell of spices toasting - all of these things sing to us in old ways - call to parts of us that don’t get tended to by living a life of looking at a screen. Time stretches. We feel better for doing something and we feel better about ourselves for making the effort. Life feels better. Simple.
Benefits of creativity #9 Meaningful occupation
In his book ‘Dementia reconsidered Tom Kitwood offers up a model for good practice. He calls it the Flower of Emotional Needs. One of the essential petals of the flower is meaningful occupation. Put simply, we feel better about ourselves and our life when our time is occupied by tasks we feel have value attached to them.
I think this model is as true for people who have dementia as for those of us that don’t. We can do humdrum tasks. They offer their ordinary comfort. But we need richer experiences too. To thrive, we need to feel like our efforts mean something. Having something to show at the end of the day makes us feel better. It’s a marker: “Today, I was here, this is the proof. I’m making the most of my life because I know that it is a precious gift and I don’t want it to just pass me by”.
Benefits of creativity #10: Direction
It’s a lucky person who makes it through this life without ever feeling a little lost. For some, the nagging sense of not quite living the life they were meant for - that feeling can last days - weeks - years. A lifetime, if not careful.
Connecting with our natural creativity lets us come back to ourselves. Instead of trying to ‘think’ our way into finding happiness, developing a creative practice helps us get back to basics.
There are too many choices in this life.
Stop trying to decide with your brain! Get messy. Play with words and colours and shapes. Stop worrying about what other people think. Stop trying to get it ‘right’. Find out what makes your heart sing.
Learn to listen to your gut. Gut for figuring out WHAT brain for figuring out HOW. We’ve got too used to doing things the wrong way around. Forgotten how to tune out all the noise in the world. Get back in tune with yourself. Happiness will follow.
And there we have it! My first 10 benefits of creativity. Building my case for why creativity makes life better and showcasing some of the ways it can help. More benefits soon! In the meantime, why don’t you step away from the screen (ha! Autocorrect turned that into ‘scream’!)... step away from the screen and go and do something more interesting instead.
Here’s a little activity prompt to get you started.
Grab a pen/pencil and piece of paper.
Go and sit down.
Set a timer for five minutes.
Close your eyes.
Take five deep breaths.
Open your eyes.
Wherever your eyes land, describe. Describe like you’re seeing it for the first time:
The points where one object meets another.
Shadow and light.
Move in closer. What do you notice now?
This can go on - you could decide to do a little sketch. Write the story of how the object came to be yours. Make up a story about the person who made it. The possibilities are endless. Play. Enjoy x