A recent study shows that engaging in something creative, on a weekly basis improves our general well-being, by experiencing increased positive emotions. Moreover, this study encourages everyone, no matter the personality types, to tap into their creative energy and find ways to express your creative self.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss what creativity is and what it actually means to experience life more creatively.
What is creativity?
We grow up with favourite figures of writers, musicians, painters, etc that enrich our emotional life. Who hasn’t heard of Dostoyevsky, Queen and Picasso? To normal people, great minds set an unreachable standard of what it means to be creative and gifted. Ever since childhood, my understanding of creativity has been that of a personality trait with which only genius people are blessed with. I only dreamed of writing fiction but didn’t dare to try it out because I knew I was not one of those blessed with the talent of creative writing.
It wasn’t until one fortunate event about 10 years ago, when I got an invitation to join an amateur theatre group and I hesitantly accepted. I started experimenting with playscript writing. Impassioned by developing the stories, my life got a whole new meaning. Ideas were blossoming in my mind like the Spring flowers under the first warm days of sun. Who was this person originating those ideas?
I became more observant of my inner and external life. As a result, I was coming up with new ideas to incorporate into the scripts. Overall, I experienced more joy, although I was very much aware that my scripts would not be brought to life on the stage of the Finnish National Theatre or Svenska Teatern. I was happy not taking myself seriously but at the same time, diligently challenging my writing potential.
Like me, there are others longing after expressing themselves in a creative way but don’t dare to because they believe, without further investigations, that creativity is a personality trait of geniuses.
Geniuses make the world a more beautiful and comfortable place with new books, new songs and new inventions. To this kind of creativity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to as the big C creativity. The big C creativity requires originality, usefulness and a surprising element.
We can’t deny that some people are more creative than others. The less creative ones enjoy the outcome of the work done by the big C creativity individuals. The more creative people are skilled at both solving and finding problems. Most likely, you have bought, at least once, some goods from Amazon, the online store. Behind the successful business story of Amazon, there is one of the more creative minds, with expertise in the field of computers.
Computer engineer, Jeff Bezos, had been observing for a while how the internet is used as an insider’s tool in the USA government and the academic circles, when he had the vision to extend the use of this tool to ordinary people. Jeff came up with another way for people to buy goods. I don’t know about you, but I buy most of my books from Amazon.
The fact that some people are more creative than others in terms of the big C creativity, this does not mean that ordinary people cannot be creative. Neuroscience research suggests that the normal brains have a creative functioning that can be activated and amplified with conscious effort and a little practice.
We are all wired to create in the realm of our personal and work lives. We can all bring in some originality, usefulness and surprising element in the way we dress, we work, we behave and we manage ourselves, day in, day out. This is our small c creativity, which may not result in national and international fame, but can help us feel we live a full life and can have a positive message for the others around us.
Why well-being and small c creativity?
Researchers from different fields analyze different dimensions of well-being: emotional, physical, social, economic, psychological, engaging activities and work, and life satisfaction.
The common aspect of all these dimensions of well-being is the presence of positive emotions, transformation of negative emotions, and fulfilment.
People who engage in small c creativity – like daydreaming, playing guitar in their free time, or findings ways to pleasantly surprise their close ones – report to have a greater sense of well-being and personal growth compared to others less engaged in everyday creative activities.
Small c creativity is about looking at your life circumstances and finding ways to express yourself. The basic human need is to be seen and to be heard. Being creative about how you allow yourself to be seen and heard is a fun and daring way to live.
What does it mean to make a habit out of creativity?
One of my dear friends is a good example of what it means to express yourself in a creative way. Journalist as a profession, he dedicated hours of his time to playing and singing in a band, to directing and acting in theatre plays. The music is his way to express his joys and yearnings. Theatre is his ways to connect with others.
Another example of creative living is an important person for me who has been a long-life entrepreneur. Now when he is at pension, instead of taking it easy, his mind continues to come up with visions about how to improve different aspects of the society.
Once you find your creative way of living, it is harder to let it go. But how can you start? Here are 3 things to consider when embarking on the creative self-realization.
Have you happened to notice, what is your tendency when you get involved in a new project? Do you take yourself seriously to make everything perfect or do you have a more playful attitude of experimenting with ideas and feelings?
When we learn new skills and make habitual changes, the brain is working harder in order to hardwire these new skills and habits. Therefore, we need to put in more cognitive effort, which may be frustrating at times. But keeping a playful attitude of exploration can keep the motivation up.
Choose your interest
What is the area in your life where you want to be more creative? Is it your morning rituals, finding an engaging activity to boost your energy, your home design, the way you manage your emotions, your love relationship, or your relationship with your child, etc?
Whatever area you choose, find your problem and think how you want to feel when you solve the problem. Then start with the first small solution.
For example, you may want to find an engaging activity to make you experience more positive emotions but you think you are not passionate about anything in particular. Start thinking about few things you are interested in, choose one and try to get curious about what you can do about this interest. It can be playing an instrument, cooking, gardening, building a house, poetry, politics, etc.
Let’s say you choose gardening. It can be that you realize you want to subscribe to a gardening magazine. Or, if you are more of an extrovert, you may go to the flowers shop in your neighbourhood and start a small-talk with the seller about the season flowers.
Find the time and space for curiosity
When we start doing something new and we want to make it a habit, it’s preferable to choose a favourable time of the day and a place where it’s more likely we don’t get interrupted or distracted for the duration we are engaged in this new activity. This means that we may want to pay closer attention to what activities we do daily and make some changes to make room for the new activity.
Continuing with the previous example on developing curiosity for gardening, we may want to dedicate 30 minutes to reading more about it, every Sunday evening, when the house is quiet.
Don’t beat yourself if you fall asleep over the gardening magazine. If your curiosity is not awaken, move on to another field of interest. Explore until you feel the spark of curiosity. This is a good sign that you are in a spot where you have high chances of finding out how to express your creative self.
Music is the first love of my friend I was talking about earlier. This Summer, while driving around the picturesque roads of the French countryside, he got in touch with a stream of consciousness which aroused his interest to get back to his second love: writing. “I need to learn more about developing plots, though. ”, he mused.
The retired entrepreneur could enjoy sleeping late in the mornings. However, his visions, implementation ideas and the perceived obstacles make him continue with a disciplined lifestyle. He wakes up at 5 am to have brainstorming sessions on his own. He frequently goes to the gym and takes walks in the nature.
As for myself, I am exploring my creative potential, as a parent, by making up bedtime stories weekly.
Once you tap into your creative energy and find ways to express it in your life, you become one with your creative potential, you grow with it and you allow it guide you to the next chapter in the adventure of your life.