What does it mean to be “creative?” Though creativity is a word often reserved for artists, there are so many more applications than we may think. From everyday activities like cooking and taking walks, to organizing and clutter-clearing, there are many different ways to engage with creativity. As an added bonus, not only do creative activities offer enjoyment in the moment, but research shows they contribute to greater happiness in the future!
Creativity can involve the process of generating new ideas, brainstorming solutions, or coming up with interesting and unusual connections. It can also include the act of creating something, whether working on a crafty home project or stopping to take a photo on our phones.
Cloud ice cream, anyone? 😋
Though we might come out of a creative venture with an end product, it’s the process of creating that keeps us coming back for more.
“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process.”Elizabeth Gilbert
When we’re in that creative space, we often become fully immersed in the activity and enter a state of “Flow.” In his book Flow, and this Ted talk, positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (if you’re curious, his name is pronounced Mee-high Chick-sent-mee-high) describes the Flow experience as one that brings meaning and worth to people’s lives. When we’re in Flow, we tend to feel:
- Completely absorbed – it brings us into the present, with energized focus
- A sense of timelessness – we get lost in the activity, and can lose track of time
- Enjoyment of the process – the activity is rewarding in and of itself
Artistic pursuits have been the focus of a lot of research on Flow, as people often talk about experiencing this state of being when creating art, making music, writing, dancing, etc. But the Flow phenomenon translates to a variety of daily activities as well, including problem-solving at work or home, making meals and even engaging in conversation.
Flow in action at work 👍
We can enhance our well-being by increasing the amount of time we’re in Flow. In the PERMA theory of well-being, the “E” in the acronym stands for Engagement, which is essentially Flow. According to studies, well-being increases when we focus on and support any of the PERMA areas. In this case, we can affect positive change in our lives by simply recognizing and increasing our creative engagement.
One of the ways I enjoy tapping into creativity and flow is through morning pages, which originated from a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way. It’s a writing exercise, but you absolutely don’t have to be a “writer” to have this amazing practice in your life and enjoy the many benefits!
My current morning pages notebook ❤️
For those of you who haven’t tried morning pages, the idea is to write 3 pages of whatever comes to mind, without stopping your pen. It’s pure stream of consciousness, without any expectation of producing anything of value. Though the emphasis is truly on the process, there are so many positive benefits that come out of these short writing sessions.
I don’t know what I think until I write about it.~Joan Didion
When I do morning pages (in fits and starts, and often in the afternoon or evening 😉), I feel they help open up the creative channel. They also quiet the self-critical voice. By writing without stopping, there isn’t much room for the inner censor to rear its judgmental head. In addition, morning pages get the drivel and random swirling thoughts out of my head, and onto the paper, which frees up some extra space for creativity. Are you sold yet? ☺️ 📖 Dust off that journal you got as a gift, or grab one the next time you’re at the store, and give it a go!
If morning pages aren’t your thing, there are an abundance of other ways to invite more creativity into your life. You might already have a creative process that you enjoy, or a creative endeavor that speaks to you. Follow that passion!
Looking for some ideas to spark creativity? Here are some activities to choose from, or come up with other ideas for something you might enjoy!
And don’t forget about the ways in which you’re already utilizing creativity, but might not see it in that light. Try to notice when creativity comes up, whether you’re generating solutions to a problem or rummaging through the fridge before your next meal.
How does creativity show up in your life? What are some creative activities you enjoy, and what others might you try? Would love to hear about your creative spirits! As for me, I have plans to create a vision board with a few girlfriends this weekend. Fun times!