What if you knew that creative expression could really make you happier? You’d do it, right? Sometimes we forget in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we have the power to harness happiness if we just make time for it. Creativity may be the key. It’s true. There’s a link between happiness and creativity.
Being creative means something different to everyone —
- maybe it’s writing a poem
- participating in a paint-and-sip with friends
- making a new recipe
- learning how to play an instrument
Just think of those days as a kid how you felt when you created a work of art. It probably brought up feelings of:
- unbridled joy
- and … happiness
Pablo Picasso kind of nailed it when he said, “every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” You don’t have to create a masterpiece to bring back those feelings as an adult, yet still reap the benefits of creativity and self-expression.
The link between happiness and creativity
So, what does creativity actually do for you, and how does it make you happier?
Focus on Living in the Moment
Have you ever been in “the flow?” You’re moving along with the current of your life. When you’re creating something, you’re probably not thinking about anything but the task at hand. You’re not diverting your attention to life’s problems but instead focusing on the moment. There’s something satisfying about that. It’s a feeling of contentedness.
Living in the moment means fully accepting what is. If we can realize the present moment is the only one that matters, we can be happy with that knowledge. When we tap into creative power and act upon it, we need to:
- trust what we are receiving
- believe in ourselves
- find strength to receive it
- do what’s necessary with that information
If we can accept the moment, we have full control.
If people are distracted from the task at hand, they are thinking or daydreaming about something else, which consistently makes them less happy. People who are thinking about the past and worried about the future aren’t as happy as people who choose to live in the moment. Doing something creative brings the mind back to what you’re feeling at the moment. How cool is that?
Combat Depression, Stress & Anxiety With Art Therapy
Throughout history, creative types — i.e. Vincent Van Gogh and Sylvia Plath — struggled with mental illness yet produced timeless, brilliant works of art. The idea: they were so good because they were struggling. They dug into their pain through creative expression.Yet, they still weren’t happy.
This also suggests that creative people are more vulnerable to disorders, which goes against the viewpoint that depression makes it harder for people to create until their mood improves.
But psychologists say creativity is a good form of self-reflection and might actually be a remedy for someone battling depression. There’s healing power in creative therapy. Writing about a bad experience might help someone face the cause of their depression and begin the process of healing.
Art therapy was recognized 50 years ago as a way for people to express their inner thoughts. Today, there are therapists dedicated to the combination of art and therapy. They help people find ways to express and discover themselves. Music, dance, drama, art and writing are all forms of creative therapy.
Art therapy isn’t a substitute for counseling, of course. Holistic counseling is another form of therapy that focuses on the whole person, their life experiences, and takes into consideration their psychological, physical and spiritual well-being.
One last piece of advice:
Try to throw “perfection” out the window. When perfectionist attitudes come into play, we tend to feel more anxious and stressed rather than mindful. Maybe you’ve done one of the those paint-and-sip classes (where you drink wine and paint with a room full of other people). You look over and noticed the person next to you is creating something better than your piece.
You think yours is terrible in comparison, and forget your making your own special painting that has nothing to do with anyone else’s. Avoid this mode of thinking; you’re there to have fun, bond and express yourself the way you choose.
Increased Sense of Self-Worth
When you feel good about yourself, you tend to be happier. When you’re in the creative flow, you may feel a boost in self-esteem and a lift in confidence. You may feel more productive and helpful to the people around you. Creativity simply improves our quality of life.
Figuring out what creative outlet makes you happy is one step in the right direction. Have you always wanted to take a poetry or writing class, a cooking class, become a master gardener, or sing a song publicly?
Think of your life as a blank canvas or a book that needs to be written. There are so many possible creative outlets waiting for you to explore. It doesn’t matter whether you’re any good at them. If you’re curious enough to start something new or have thoughtful conversations with people, your brain is stimulated into creative problem-solving. This can carry over into your work, home and social life.
Maybe you get creative inspiration by listening to happy music, visiting an art museum, or joining a book club. Creativity gives life a sense of purpose and meaning. We are always evolving into better versions of ourselves, and it’s often fueled by creative endeavors.
As you can imagine, art and creativity aren’t solely reserved for children, brooding artists or tortured souls; it’s for everyone to enjoy a rich, fulfilling, healthier and happier life.
About the Writer: Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can check out more of her writing n twitter, @faulknercreek