Each Spring, these golden daffodils blossom with the creative power of nature. We now know that creativity is essential to life. It's not limited to artists, writers, scientists, and musicians. It's essential to our human nature (Amabile, 1983; Richards 2007). Our creative capacity enables us to not only survive but thrive, to discover new solutions and shape our individual and collective futures. Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow (1971) saw creativity as an expression of our highest human potential. And in over three decades of research, positive psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihaly (1996) has found that when we live creatively, we live more fully, experiencing greater joy and meaning in life.
As children, we are all naturally creative, reaching out to explore, learn, and grow (Simonton, 2009). Creative adults retain the openness, curiosity, and mindful awareness of childhood with what psychiatrist Ruth Richards (2007) has called "everyday creativity." They follow their curiosity, try different options, and improvise to discover new possibilities. Research has connected this creative approach to life with greater health, happiness, success, and well-being (Connor, DeYoung, & Silvia, 2016).
You can nurture your creativity by making time for your own creative practice--not for any external reason but for yourself, for fun, for the sense of joy and discovery. Do you enjoy drawing, painting, photography, gardening, cooking, wood crafts, knitting, quilting, needlepoint, dancing, playing a musical instrument, or something else. Research has shown that a simple creative practice can relieve stress, depression, and anxiety, strengthen our immune systems and increase our well-being (Kaimal, Ray, & Muniz, 2016).
How can you pursue your own creative practice this week? If you already have a creative practice, make time to enjoy it. If you don't have one, then take time to:
- Close your eyes now and take a deep, mindful breath.
- Recall a creative practice you enjoyed as a child—was it drawing, painting, playing a musical instrument, weaving, making mosaics, or something else?
- See yourself doing this, remembering how it felt and embrace that feeling now.
- Feel yourself enjoying the process, playing with color, sound, or form.
- When you're ready, gently open your eyes, ready to take the next step.
This week, I invite you to get back in touch with this feeling by making time for a creative practice you enjoy or rediscovering one you enjoyed in childhood. Take that old guitar out of the closet or buy yourself a box of colored pencils, pens, or paints. Sign up for a class in art, music, cooking, or dance at your local community center. Then explore, be present, enjoy the process and discover where it leads.
I wish you joy in the process.
Amabile, T. M. (1983). The social psychology of creativity: A componential conceptualization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45 (2), 357-376.
Connor, T. S., DeYoung, C. G., & Silvia, P. G. (2016). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 13, 181-189.
Csikszentmihaly, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Kaimal, G., Ray, K., & Muniz, J. (2016). Reduction of cortisol levels and participants' responses following art making. Art Therapy, 33 (2), 74-80;
Maslow, A. H. (1971). The farther reaches of human nature. New York, NY: Viking Books.
Richards, R. (2007). Everyday creativity: Our hidden potential. In Richards, R. (Ed.). Everyday creativity: and new views of human nature: psychological, social, and spiritual perspectives (pp. 25-53), Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.
Simonton, D. K. (2009). Creativity. In C.R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.). Oxford handbook of positive psychology. 2nd ed., (pp. 261-269). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.