“Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint you can on it.” ~Danny Kaye
I’ve had those days when I felt like my life was in the doldrums. When I felt stuck in the same-old, same-old and wondered how to get a pick me up. When I wished I had more passion or purpose or maybe just a jolt of joy to shake things up.
Sometimes there were things I thought might make me happy, but I couldn’t have them just because I wanted them. Like, I couldn’t just snap my fingers and meet the man who sweeps me off my feet or become a kazillionaire.
But there is something that’s always at my (and your) fingertips. Something we always have that will instantaneously make us happy, right now in this moment.
And that is (drum roll please…) our creativity.
Creativity is not just for artists or making art. Creativity is life making. It’s anything we do that turns us on, invigorates us, or offers a simple moment of pure merriment.
For me, I love to paint and write. I knit while watching my favorite movies. I have a blast cooking and sharing my recipes. I let myself go wild in dance class.
All of us have something we enjoy doing. Or something we think we would enjoy but don’t do because the bigger, more major things in our daily lives take priority. We just don’t make the time for it.
Or we judge it as “a little hobby” (like crafting, kickball, or learning magic tricks).
Or we think it will never become something significant or important (like changing the world.)
Or we deem it as just plain silly. (Why pick up singing when we don’t even know how to stay in harmony?)
But the things we enjoy are far more important than we could ever realize and can make a significant impact on our lives.
Here are ten reasons why (and there are so many more):
1. Creativity makes us present.Because we’re doing something we like to do, we’re engaged in the moment. Time passes in an instant ‘cause we’re just having some good ol’ fun.
When I paint, write, knit, dance, or cook it’s like active meditation. Being present with myself dials up my knob of attention and wakes me up.
Creativity stimulates us to be more mindfully in tune with our overall lives. It also calms our nervous system, decreases anxiety, and helps restore balance.
2. We better our relationships.Simply because we enjoy doing something we love, we connect to ourselves more intimately. We develop a profound relationship with our inner selves.
The more we connect to ourselves, the more we’re able to connect to others and deepen all of our relationships. This secures healthier bonds.
And because we’re more fulfilled, the less we need others to fulfill us and the more we have to share. Our happiness expands and others feel it too and want to spend more time with us.
3. We’re playing again.As kids we could create anything and have fun with it without worrying about what other people thought.
We could sing out loud in the car, turn a mud-pie into a monster, or let our stuffed animals have conversations. We were all free in one-way or another.
Creativity returns us to the innocence of our childhoods. And giving ourselves a break from the pressures of adult responsibility, we become lighter and increase our sense of humor as we delight in the pleasure of our amusements.
4. We’re led to new wonderful opportunities.The current of creativity is like a river finding its sea. It always leads us to bigger waters. So even a small creative project might open us to whole new possibilities. We never know where it might lead.
On a whim I got this idea to make a board game. My friends loved to play it and soon, I was hosting game parties once a month at my house for up to thirty people. It became such a wonderful way to bring people together, a publisher picked it up and today everyone can play it.
But we don’t do it for product. We do it for pure joy and interest.
For sure with any kind of project, as our creative juices get flowing, there’s an infinite pool to draw from to keep our inventiveness growing.
5. Depression is lifted.While doing the things we enjoy, even if it seems small or easy, the self-judgments we make (like we’re not enough, or bad, or we don’t matter) are suspended. We do it just because of the sheer delight of doing it.
It’s the permission we give to ourselves to do what we love that makes us forget we’re in the slumps. The more we engage, the more our spirits fly.
Doing something that is not demanding or to win is the antidote to any dreariness or blahs. My mood always uplifts when I’m creating something just for my own gratification.
6. It’s always new.Every time we make stuff we’re embarking on fresh, unknown territory. Each time we begin and as we continue, we’re traversing on a new adventure.
Creativity has this awesome way of always changing things up. Even if it seems “mundane” like stirring a soup, or knitting a loop, or moving my body, it always brings a different experience.
A plus is it also initiates new perspectives.
7. We get out of our own way.When doing something we enjoy, we’re focused on the act of doing it rather than self-ruminating. It immediately gets us out of our head.
So much of our unhappiness is bred from being fixed and consumed by our thoughts and behaviors. We tend to observe our feelings, words, and actions far too often.
But when we’re engaged creatively, we’re freed from any internal traps that say something about us, especially because it doesn’t have to be so serious.
It’s also the #1 best replacement for any addictions.
8. We become amazed by our intuition.We may wonder what gives us pleasure when we feel stuck. But there’s always something whispering to us.
That’s the beauty of creativity. It might be telling us to take a pottery class, or sign up for a book club, or learn a new spiritual practice because it knows this will add some sparkle and enliven us.
When we listen, we realize that we’re being led by something much greater than us. The more we listen, the more astounded we are by what lives inside us.
9. We build character.As we attend to our creativity, we feel better about ourselves. This simple act of showing up serves our self-respect and confidence.
The more we make pleasurable, creative acts a priority, the more we rejuvenate, strengthen, and grow.
Each time I sit down to write and my fingers get moving, I feel proud of myself for meeting the blank page head on.
The overall gain is a greater sense of gratitude.
10. Love begets love.The more we cultivate what we love, the more love we accumulate. Our cup flows over.
Clearly there are days we may show up to do something we enjoy and it isn’t always enjoyable. Sometimes the cake doesn’t rise, the paint spills, or my muscles are sore. But finding creative ways to solve the problems can be fun if we continue.
When we don’t worry about how it turns out and we do it simply for the wonder of exploration, our heart expands and love abounds. And this spreads out into our entire life.
So, what’s compelling you to create? What might creativity be telling you to do because it’s sure you’ll gain from it? What if you just said yes to your freedom, fun, and happiness?