21 Jan NOVEMBER – Get creative
Creativity is an avenue for the soul. Opportunities to express creativity is one of the most abandoned parts of adult life today. As we busy ourselves with work, decision making, day-to-day tasks – we fill our lives up with stress. The result? We regard fun and creative tasks as something we “don’t have time” to do. According to Leslie Owen Wilson, highly creative individuals display creativity through asking questions, devise solutions, take risks, are intellectually playful, have a keen sense of humor, are self-aware, emotionally sensitive, individualistic and constructive.
Do you know a highly creative person? Do they embody these traits?
So why is it that we stifle creativity in children, almost forcing them to conform to adult expectations? Why do we as adults see creativity as fanciful and time-wasting? Where did we start becoming afraid of expressing feelings, emotions and pleasure?
Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. Following on from my August resolution to ‘start a project,’ I found joy in beginning these tasks and seeing the fruits of my labour. What also came from these projects was opportunity to express creativity. “That’s nice,” you may be saying to yourself right now, “but I am not creative.” Well my friend, I call bullshit! We are all creative! You may not be artistic, talented or skilled in certain areas, but that should not hinder your ability to express yourself and find joy in any number of activities. Before I begun this project, I never considered myself creative and all of my new found passions and projects have only come about since last year.
The benefits of creativity include (but are not limited to):
Freedom – As there is no right or wrong way to be creative, engaging in creative tasks allows you to take risks and try new things.
Self awareness and expression – As we create, we begin to access our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and motivations. We develop ideas, get to know ourselves at our core and express ourselves accordingly.
Faith and confidence in our instincts – When we create, we start to value our work, even if others never get the chance to see it and give it their opinions. We begin to trust our instincts and become confident in expressing them. Studies show that this confidence carries over into decisions we make in other areas of our lives.
Stress relief – Being creative is a form of meditation. By allowing ourselves to take the time to use our hands, minds and energy to do something that brings happiness, we reduce stress levels and improve overall well being.
Problem Solving – When we make creativity a habit, we continue to learn new, resourceful ways of solving problems whilst engaging in these activities, and in life.
Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it. This month, I wanted to find more time to be creative in my day. Moving beyond completing a project, to just flowing with whatever creative outlet I felt right that day. My research helped me to appreciate the importance of rolling with a range of creative activities. As I journey along the road to self-realisation and acceptance, I am always looking for ways to unlock doors to the many corridors of my mind. This months resolution was set with the intention to follow my instincts, see the beauty in freedom and fluidity and minimise the daily struggles of anxiety and stress.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein. Creativity comes in many forms, not just painting or art works. As with any of the personal strengths, you can boost creativity simply by paying more attention to it and intending to incorporate more of it into your life.
Things to try:
- Try changing a habitual pattern. Take a different route to work, for example, and notice what you see.
- Spend time outside. Being in natural settings taps into all five senses, energizes the body, and, most importantly, stimulates the imagination.
- Renew an old hobby. Dig out your old guitar or your scrapbooking supplies.
- Start a new hobby. Keep a journal. Record your dreams. Try your hand at writing in any form (stories, poetry, blogs).
- Cook yourself and others meals or experiment with recipes
- Buy some art supplies and play.
- Expose yourself to more arts. Visit galleries and museums; go to concerts and the theatre.
- Free-associate. Try this game: Open the dictionary to a random word and write down everything it makes you think of.
- Write freely. Take 10 minutes to jot down anything and everything that comes to mind without judgment, a technique called ‘free-writing’ or ‘free association’. Then go back over the notes and see which ideas are worth keeping.
- Read biographies of musicians, dancers, artists, scientists, business leaders.
- Listen to music; listening to music stimulates the part of our brain that controls motor actions, emotions, and creativity.
- Exercise the eyes. Moving the eyes back and forth facilitates interaction between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which may boost creative thinking
- Don’t expect perfection. Putting pressure on ourselves to produce something outstanding can actually make it harder to create anything at all. A lot of people sort of secretly feel, ‘I’m not creative,’ but everyone is creative to a certain degree.
- Create a treasure chest. Collect a bunch of inspiring items (photos, quotations, etc.)
- Take random photos.
- Practice mind mapping – chose a topic or word and write down words, sentences or ideas that link through the use of a mind map.
Nicola Vanlint – Psychotherapist
Out of limitations, comes creativity. Piggy backing onto my projects that I had begun in previous months (creating photo books, baking and decorating cakes, planting a veggie patch and this blog of course), I made time for tasks such as journalling, collecting quotes on pinterest, mind mapping, drawing and colouring, playing with essential oils. At Christmas time, I gifted workmates with handmade gifts. What came from these activities was a number of wonderful things. Through pinning motivational quotes and strategies for wellness, I was constantly renewing my passion, increased my motivation and experiencing excitement every time a loaded the app. The smell of my essential oils unlocked parts of my brain that had grown cobwebs! I experienced immense satisfaction from researching oil blends for different purposes an mixing my own lotions and potions. In order to explore my artistic talents, I invested in a visual art diary, which I have filed with drawings, brainstorming pages, goal setting and mindmapping. I don’t consider myself a talented artist, but I love it! This book allows me to dedicate pages to themes and visually plan ideas or express myself in any form that I wish. What was beautiful about these creative tasks was the spontaneity of them. When completing a project, I am wedded to achieving a finished product. While these projects still have their place, other creative activities are short and sharp, I can do them in small bursts and they didn’t require consistent revisiting or maintenance.
Since allowing myself time to be creative, I have not only grown within myself, I have found opportunities to serve others. I have become vulnerable and shared my inner thoughts and feelings through my journaling and blogging. And while it is nice to see when people visit my page or like my posts, I don’t do it for that reason. The majority of my friends and family don’t even know this blog exists! I do it for the therapy, I do it to reflect, I do it to learn and improve my mindset. I have cemented new knowledge through mind mapping and brainstorming. I have improved the health of myself and my husband through mixing all our own natural, chemical free cleaning products and skin care and cooking healthy food. I have shared my creations with friends and family through gifts and been a role model for how beneficial creativity can be for the mind body and soul. Creativity has changed me. Creativity has unlocked what I already knew, but never allowed myself to see.
Moving forward into the coming months and beyond, I want to make it a priority to express myself and encourage others to do the same. Through acting as a role model for how creativity can free your inner child, open up your eyes to a different view on life, uncover the answers that you already had within, it is my goal to inspire others to do the same for themselves. It is my mission to provide the students that I teach with more opportunities to express themselves through any avenue that they chose and to show adults that creativity is essential and key to improved wellbeing.
Creativity helps us acknowledge and celebrate our own uniqueness and diversity. But most importantly being creative allows us to follow pathways to new ways of thinking and living. It guides us on our quest to self-improvement. However you choose to embark on your creative quest, be free, and be silly. You’ll be healthier, enriched and happier.
In what ways will you improve your life and be more creative?