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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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!