Part of me is angry I even have to write this. Shouldn’t we all have the time and space to paint and write every day, frolicking in a meadow, braiding our hair with flowers we grew in the garden? Why would we need to remind ourselves to engage in this most valued human drive? What could be more important than the free expression of life and beauty?I suppose laundry is important. And work. And cooking food, raising kids, driving places, baying bills, getting enough sleep, returning emails, avoiding phone calls…all the daily tasks of maintaining the life we’ve created.
In his seminal book “Flow”, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discussed the state in which humans are happiest: when we are immersed in an activity, totally and completely. This state of ‘flow’ has profound benefits mentally and physically, and nearly all of us have experienced it: engrossed in a pleasurable, challenging task, time flies; we haven’t thought of food, obligations, or ourselves in hours. This is a powerful respite from life maintenance. Once we have found our groove and learn how to return to it, greater happiness will follow.
An additional component of creativity is vulnerability. We often stifle our creative impulses with fear: don’t make that joke, don’t try that dance move, don’t paint the kitchen that weird color you can’t stop thinking about. “It may not be perfect, and no one will like it.” The key to creativity is to risk imperfection and see where it leads; if we imagine ourselves on a giant stage, lit from above, the risk may feel overwhelming. Trying out various types of creativity in a group allows us to challenge that internal critic and pay attention to the process, not the product.
And there’s the final key to creativity: the reward is in the process, not the outcome. In 15 years of clinical practice, I have increasingly relied on creativity in my work. Poetry has been the key to bypassing the defenses of angry teens; drawing focuses anxious children; and writing is often the missing piece for stuck adults. Tuning into our own creative flow enhances our personal therapeutic work and our connection to ourselves, a crucial factor in long-term happiness.
Would you like to learn more about living a creative, vibrant life? On September 22 at 7pm, please join me for a fun, relaxing exploration of the benefits of creativity and play. We’ll discuss the science behind creative flow, make some stuff, and leave with a plan to increase the creativity of our daily lives. Creativity is 1 of 4 remaining topics in HWCA’s signature holistic wellness program Get Happy! Sessions are now available for only $30 each! Click here to register now!