The Great 8 Benefits of Creativity

Creativity-Positively-Present

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I'm in the midst of working on a new book on creativity, and as I've been writing and researching, I've come across so many important benefits that can be achieved when engaging in creative experiences. The list is super long (I'll be exploring them in more detail in the book!), but I thought I'd take a break from my research and write about some of them here. 

When the average person thinks of "creativity," they typically think about one of two things: (1) a professional creative who works in a creative field (or is a well-known artist), or (2) a somewhat frivolous activity that can be done during downtime (see: the boom of the adult coloring book market). But creativity shouldn't be reserved for professional creatives or for people who seemingly have lots of extra time on their hands. Creativity is for everyone. And, more importantly, it's essential

The more creativity we cultivate, the more we all benefit, both personally and as a society. The benefits of creativity can be life changing (they have been for me!), and, unless you identify as a creative person or work in a creative field, it can be challenging to recognize (and make an effort to reap!) the rewards. In future posts, maybe I'll get more into the details of how to be creative, but first I thought I'd dive into why you'll want to incorporate more creativity into your life. 

(Note: I'll primarily be referring to creativity in terms of creating art, because that's something I do personally, but keep in mind that creativity can play a role in almost any aspect of life: cooking, raising children, developing relationships, work, day-to-day routines, etc. so even if you don't enjoy making art, you can still benefit from creativity!) 


CrayonCHILDLIKE FREEDOM

As adults, we don't often get to experience the best bits of childhood: wonder, playfulness, freedom to be silly. Depending on your career, you might be limited in what you get to do on a daily basis. Creativity provides an opportunity to have complete freedom to do whatever you want. When it comes to creating, particularly creating art, there are no rules. Or, if there are, you can break them at any time. The freeing feeling that comes from creating something out of nothing is one of the greatest joys of creativity. 

 

Paint SetSELF-EXPRESSION

Closely tied with the notion of freedom is one of creativity's second great benefits: self-expression. There are many ways we can express ourselves (what we wear being on of the most obvious ones), but creativity provides a great outlet for exploring the self and taking what you find an putting it into a tangible format. Creativity connects you with yourself, and, as I've talked about many times, the more you know yourself, the better equipped you are to take on life's challenges. 


Paint TubeSTRESS RELIEF

There's a reason the adult coloring craze came to be. Creativity reliefs stress! When you get into a creative project, you get into what's known as the "flow" (that feeling when you're so absorbed in what you're doing that you forget what time it is, forget all of the things you've been worrying about, and are fully engaged in the moment). I personally find it hard to get into the flow state doing anything other than creating, and I know I'm not alone in this. Making something makes you present. And, when you're fully in the moment, you're unable to stress about the past or the future. 

 

InkINCREASED CONFIDENCE

This benefit can take some time to develop, but the more you practice making, the better you'll get at it. You make think to yourself "But I can't draw!" or "I'm not creative," but, believe me, if you keep doing it, you'll improve. And all you have to do is keep at it. You don't need special classes or tools (though, admittedly, those can help). You just need to keep trying, exploring, and doing. The more you do, the better you get, and the greater your creative confidence becomes. The confidence you experience in on aspect of life spills over to others as well, increasing your overall sense of ability. 

 


CupFUN-FILLED EXPERIMENTATION

Just as creativity leads us to cultivate that childlike sense of wonder, it, too, gives us permission to experiment in new and exciting ways. When you're doing something creative (and not for work!), you can do whatever you want. You can try new and weird mediums. You can explore a different style or layout. You can do anything you can think of, which is pretty amazing! There aren't many aspects of life in which you can experiment like crazy, but creativity is one of them. In a world where answers to most questions are just a click away, the opportunity to experiment and not know what will happen is fun

 

PaperPERSONAL GROWTH

When engaging in something creative, you're growing. Whether you realize it or not, that's just part of the deal. The more you create, the more you learn about yourself, and the more you learn, the more you grow. You'll find yourself pushing yourself out of comfort zones you didn't realize you had. You'll find yourself able to create things you never knew the world needed. If you pay attention, you'll start to see your patterns and preferences, both of which teach you a lot about who you are — and who you want to be. 

 

ErasureSAFE MISTAKES

In addition to the fun-filled benefit of experimentation, creativity is also a wonderfully safe haven for mistake-making. When you're creative, you're able to try new techniques, tools, and formats with minimal repercussions. Making mistakes sounds like it wouldn't be a benefit, but being able to make mistakes in a creative format is actually a great life lesson. As you're creating, you're going to make mistakes (and also wonderful things) and doing so teaches you that life is a balance of making things happen and letting them happen. 

 
GlueNEW IDEAS

And last, but certainly not least, creativity is vital for coming up with new ideas. Consider all of the technology and art and books we have in today's world. None of those would have come to be without the creativity that drove their creators to think in new ways. The more you create, the more ideas you'll have. And they won't just be about the work you're creating. Creativity leads to new art-focused ideas, sure, but it also leads to new ways of seeing the world and experiencing life, which will inspire new ideas in all areas of your life! 

 

Creativity has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, but I know that's not the case for everyone. With this post (and the new book I'm working on!), I hope that those who don't feel creative will consider incorporating more creative activities into their lives. These are just a few of the many benefits creativity has to offer, and you don't realize how much it can transform your life if you don't give it a try. If possible, do something creative this week (even if it's a little doodle!) and see how it feels to take something that existed only in your mind and put it on to paper! 

 


Hey, It's Okay : Accepting Who and Where You Are


Hey Its Okay - Positively Present

 

Back in January, I created had the idea for an illustration that would feature some of the things I was feeling that weren't exactly the most "positively present." I wanted to showcase the fact that, though I strive to be optimistic and mindful, I, like everyone else, struggle with a range of experiences and emotions that make it difficult to embrace positivity and present-ness at all times. When I first drew it, I wasn't sure if I wanted to post it because, after taking a step back, it seemed random (who would want to look at a coffee cup with a list beside it? like, why?), but I decided to put it up anyway, and it was a hit! 

I decided I'd make one every month with a different theme and list of things I'm feeling / experiencing (or, in some cases, things I'd seen others experiencing), and they've been some of my favorite things to create this year. Since I know not everyone here on the blog is following along on Instagram, I thought I'd share the set (so far!) here, just in case you might identify with any of these experiences or emotions. 

 

January_
January / Get it in the shop here

 

February_
February / Get it in the shop here

 

March_
March / Get it in the shop here

 

April_
April / Get it in the shop here

 

May
May / Get it in the shop here

 

June
June / Get it in the shop here

 

July
July / Get it in the shop here

 

August_
August / Get it in the shop here


I have the whole set hanging on my bedroom wall (Is it weird that I have my own art up? perhaps, but I make it 'cause I like it so why wouldn't I hang it! Plus, the prints from my shop are so bright and colorful that they always cheer me up!), and I honestly find it so helpful to see these reminders and recall that life is filled with ups and downs and some of the things that ruffled me in January are no longer relevant and some of the things I'm feeling now in August are unexpected. We don't know what life will bring, but it's nice to remind yourself every once and awhile that whatever you're going through, it's okay. It's okay to be flawed and confused and not certain. It's okay to feel anxious or unsettled or imperfect. 

I've still got four months to go on this little project. What would YOU like to see in one of these prints? Leave your ideas in the comments section below and maybe they'll make it to one of the four remaining prints! 

 


5 Types of Baggage You Don't Need to Carry

Baggage-Positively-Present
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You know how when you go on vacation and you somehow end up having way more stuff when you head home than you did when you left your house? Life's kinda like that, too. We tend to pick up baggage as we go through life, and, just like when you bring home random souvenirs, if you don't sort through it and get rid of what you don't really love, you end up with a bunch of junk that you'll drag around from house to house for no other reason than the fact that it's been in your closet for years and it feels easier to just pack it up than to think about whether or not you actually want it.

That attitude isn't all that problematic when it comes to souvenirs, but when it comes to emotional baggage, dragging around what doesn't add value to your life will really weigh you down. And, just like the idea of sorting through mementos, the thought of sorting through emotional baggage can feel like such a daunting task that it's sometimes easier to just put it off. But, unpleasant as the sorting might be, the longer you put it off, the more you'll have to sort through. 

Just as we've all likely accumulated a wide variety of knickknacks, we all carry a unique set of emotional luggage. Sorting through it all is an individual experience; it's something we each have to do for ourselves, in our own time. But I thought this week I'd talk a little bit about five kinds of emotional baggage many of us are carrying around — suitcases of inner burdens that make each of our paths a little bit more difficult to travel. 

 

YOUR PAST

The first bag we could all benefit from setting down is the past. Yes, there's value in remembering what's happened so that you can learn from it, but dragging it around with you doesn't serve much purpose. Like it or not, the past is over. What's done is done, and you cannot go back (no matter how much you might want to at times!). Recognizing this — acknowledging the past, learning what you can from it, and letting it go — is one of the best ways to lighten your emotional load. Having a hard time letting go of the past? Read this (super old!!) post, Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Past?, that I wrote when I was really struggling with letting the past go. 

 

NEGATIVITY

The next load of luggage we need to set down is a negative attitude. For many of us (including me!) negativity feels like safety. Imaging what could go wrong (or noticing what is going wrong) can feel like a form of self-protection, a way to cope with (or potentially prevent) bad things in life. But focusing on the negative aspects of life is like lugging around a bag of rocks while trudging up a mountain — all it does is make your journey more difficult. No matter what you're experiencing in life, focusing on the negativity will always make the situation worse. Check out 5 Reasons to Nix Negativity in Your Life, and you'll realize how important it is to set that bag down. 

 

GUILT

Want to lighten your load even more? Then it's time to let go of guilt. The concept of guilt is closely tied with the past, but it's not quite the same. Even if you've done your best to let the past go, you might still cling to guilt, feeling as if you deserve to lug around the blame for something that's happened, even when you know it cannot be undone. Guilt is a waste of time, and what is life, really, but doing what we can to make the most of the time we've been given. If you're struggling to let go of guilt (or understand why you should), read the post (with a video!) I Don't Feel Guilty (And You Shouldn't Either!).

 

EXPECTATIONS

Letting go of expectations is essential if you want to carry around less weight. Expectations (both of ourselves and of others) often lead to a lot of stress and strife, and quite frequently you don't even realize how much they weigh you down. They might seem like something beneficial — guidelines that should you what you do and don't want — but they are heavy. It's not until you begin setting them down that you realize down cumbersome they are. Struggling with the weight of expectations? You might want to read Love Without Expectation or Why You Need Lower Expectations

 

OTHERS' MISTAKES

Finally, something many of us carry around that we really need to set down? Others' mistakes. The past of others might not seem like something you're carrying, but you're likely doing so without realizing it. Whether it's parents, siblings, colleagues, friends, or children, many of us drag around the weight of what others have done (either because we feel partly responsible for it or because we've been hurt by it), and, just as with our own pasts, the pasts of others cannot be undone. Do yourself a favor and set that extra weight down! (Not sure how to separate yourself from the baggage of others? Check out Preserving Your Perimeter: 4 Steps to Set Boundaries and Live and Let Live: How Detachment Can Improve Relationships.)

 

Setting down one (or all!) of these things is no easy feat, but the effort it takes is so worth it. Life is a tough climb sometimes and lugging around extra weight only makes the ascent more difficult. These five types of baggage are the first that came to my mind, but I'd love to know: what else would you like to set down? Let me know in the comments below! 

 

 

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