That contented, peaceful feeling you get when you are working on your adult coloring book – its not all in your head. It turns out that creative pursuits are actually good for you. Research is demonstrating that creative engagement has significant positive effects on health. It is correlated with less distress, increased positive emotions, and improved wellbeing.
Creativity involves the generation of new things, ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing things, ideas or concepts. It contributes to flow, flexibility and spontaneity, leads to innovation and progress, helps us solve problems, and increases options.
However, there are many obstacles to creativity in modern life. We need time and space to allow the mind to create. If life is too busy or stressful, there is little room for creativity to percolate. In this era of efficiency, we may feel that taking time to explore our creative side is just plain indulgent. Unfortunately, the older we get, the less often we tend to play, spend time outdoors, doodle, listen to music, or read for pleasure.
In addition, thinking outside the box requires courage, trust, openness, risk taking, willingness to make mistakes, and resilience in the face of disappointment and rejection. There is a high premium placed on success in our culture, which can discourage us from taking risks. We can also be quite harsh and judgmental of ourselves and fear the judgment of others. This stifles the adventurousness and spontaneity necessary for creative thought.
Fortunately there are a number of ways to increase creativity. First and foremost, we can take good care of our brains by engaging in stimulating activities, trying new things, managing stress, and avoiding unhealthy habits (such as taking recreational drugs or abusing alcohol). We can arrange our lives to be more conducive to creative thinking by minimizing mindless distractions, cultivating work-life balance, and setting aside time for being rather than doing. We can surround ourselves with creative people and engage in stimulating conversation and group brainstorming.
The following are some ideas for sparking creativity:
- Engage in incremental mastery type experiences to build self-confidence – start with something small and work your way up
- Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, take calculated risks, be courageous
- Write ideas down when they come to you and revisit them intermittently
- Practice making metaphors, analogies, and associations
- Engage in imaginative play with the young children in your life
- Break into dance when you hear your favorite songs
- Take an art class, acting lessons, creative writing classes, or music lessons
- Spend time in nature
- Read books
- Listen to music
- Visit art museums
To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it. ― Osho