Creativity has been linked to many health benefits including, stress reduction, improved mood, and even prevention of Alzheimer’s. Though I take care of my mind as much as my body through yoga, meditation and constant learning, I didn’t give creativity much thought until recently. For me, it was a gene that one is born with – or not, in my case. The truth is that every one of us has the ability to create. Unfortunately, this ability often remains hidden under layers of daily responsibilities, distractions, and hurried lifestyles. It’s up to us to coax our creativity out and then regularly spend time nurturing it. To that end, it’s important to create an environment for inspiration to flourish.
Even if you, like me, don’t normally see yourself as creative, here are some recommendations to help you find your muse.
Life becomes more vibrant when we open ourselves up to possibilities. Creativity isn’t limited to artistic or musical pursuits. Taking a pastry baking class, re-decorating a room or even arranging outfits in your closet to create a new wardrobe can be fun ways of sparking the imagination. In her popular book about creativity, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron encourages readers to take themselves on an exploration of something that interests them. The “date” can be a trip to a museum, a bookstore or a visit to an ethnic restaurant. Follow your interests and they just may lead you to uncover your own brand of creativity.
Another way I find that sparks curiosity is exposure to different points of view. Whether it’s reading an article about someone whose opinions I disagree with or starting a conversation with a person I may not have anything in common with, I often learn something.
No matter how you choose to follow your curiosity, the point is that in doing so, you train the mind to be flexible, open, and imaginative – the essential ingredients of the creative process.
I always feel a sense of panic when I hear my young daughter declare “I’m bored.” My first instinct is to offer her a list of fun things she can do. I am probably transmitting my own unease with boredom. On the rare occasion when I don’t have a pressing task in front of me, my first feeling is not relief at having a reprieve but, instead, anxiety about how I will fill the unexpected free time. Inevitably, I will cave in and begin flipping channels on TV, cyber-shopping, or mindlessly scrolling through my social media accounts. Those times I’m able to let go of the need to be entertained, I end up doing something really enjoyable such as making a slow cooked meal or going for a walk with my dog. It turns out adults need downtime and unstructured play as much as children do.
Earlier this year, I bought a copy of a very popular book on the art of de-cluttering. I don’t know why I picked it up in the first place because I was not overly concerned with tidiness at the time. In fact, I’ve always found the notion of the messy artist who always loses his things to be very endearing. However, as I applied the author’s method of de-cluttering to my living space, I felt energized and inspired. I was so intrigued with the psychology behind deciding what to keep and what to let go of that I applied a similar method to “de-clutter” my mind. Nowadays, I periodically take breaks from social media, news and television as a way to “re-boot.” Instead, I read fiction or listen to music and marvel at the imagination of the artists who created these works we get to enjoy.