by Rachel Payetta for MomPositive, LLC
Okay, it’s time for true confessions. About a year ago I was talking to a therapist about the benefits of creativity and what she recommends to her patients. Now, this gal is all about creativity. It is one of the main tools she uses to help her clients.
But I wasn’t 100 percent convinced. Don’t get me wrong—I do believe there is a place for creativity. For example, I love, love, love my vision wall! It makes me smile every time I look at it, and it helps keep me totally motivated to reach my goals.
I also absolutely love writing and would be over the moon if my novel was ever picked up by a literary agent or publisher. But the idea that something like coloring could be mentally and emotionally beneficial…? Well, I was a bit skeptical—no offense, Tammi! (Tammi says, “None taken Rachel, we are all learning.”)
As soon as I voiced my skepticism, the therapist’s eyes opened really wide and she said, “Oh, it’s extremely important…and there’s nothing at all childish about it either.” Apparently, she’d been the recipient of some criticism before.
What impressed me about this conversation was the therapist’s conviction. In fact, she had so much passion about what she was saying that I almost went out and bought a coloring book that day. But, skeptic that I am, I decided to do some research first.
Just how beneficial is creativity? Let me show you.
The Mental and Emotional Benefits of Creative Hobbies
One of the first articles I found when doing my research was called The Positive Benefits of Creativity on PositiveLivingNow.com. The opening of their article was absolutely priceless.
“Quick: Think of five things you could do with a new box of crayons.
(C’mon. Play along.)
Now notice how thinking of those five things made you feel.
If you laughed at the silliness of your ideas, you’re feeling one of the positive benefits of creativity—and you didn’t have to write a single sentence or draw a single line.”
It just took reading that one section to realize that one of the main benefits of creativity is happiness. Whether we’re coloring with crayons or painting with oils—creativity brings us a level of happiness that few other projects can.
Besides this feeling of happiness, there are many other benefits. In an article on PsychologyToday.com, the following benefits of creative hobbies were listed.
- They bring meaning into our life and give us a sense of pride.
- They help us feel productive like we’re accomplishing something great.
- Creative hobbies that are in tune with who we are on the deepest levels also help to heal old wounds and allow us to grow emotionally. For instance, writing down a hurtful experience from our past in the form of a story or a work of poetry is a way to get the hurt out and do something productive with it. People who have tried this exercise feel an overwhelming sense of emotion, generally followed by relief and the feeling that they’re starting to heal and let go.
- These hobbies are a great way to exercise the brain and keep it young.
- It can improve self-esteem and confidence.
- It instills the truism that practice makes perfect…well, that practice brings about excellence. When that is introduced at a young age—whether through music lessons, dance practice, or another hobby—children will learn the value of working towards other things throughout their life, like homework or eventually building a business.
- According to a Huffington Post article, the American Journal of Public Health published a review of over 100 studies about the benefits of creative activities on health. They found that creative endeavors decreased depression, reduced anxiety and stress, and helped people through the grieving process.
When it comes to the benefits of creative activities, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s easy to see why doctors, therapists and health coaches all encourage their patients and clients to pursue some sort of creative outlet.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t get to experience those benefits because they feel like they don’t have a creative bone in their body. Is this really the case?
We’re All Creative in Some Way!
Let’s go back for a second to the article The Positive Benefits of Creativity. In it, the writer quoted TED talk speaker John Paul Caponigro who points out that the human race is, in fact, “a creative species”.
Think about that for a second…does any other species intrinsically feel the need to create?
Granted, there are YouTube videos of animals doing some artistic things, even of elephants painting with their trunks. But would an elephant ever experience the desire to search out an art supply store because he or she had decided to take up paining?
Humans, on the other hand, not only search out artistic mediums; they look for creative ways to do everyday things. Whether it’s solving a mathematical equation, figuring out the best way to market a product, or deciding what to serve for dinner—there is a level of creativity to nearly all that we do.
How exciting is learning that? This means that every single one of us has a propensity toward certain creative hobbies—in other words, we’re all creative!
But how do we know which creative hobbies to take up? How can we strengthen our creativity so that we can see the full benefit of implementing it in our lives?
Creative Hulkiness—4 Ways to Strengthen Your Creativity
It really doesn’t take much to become the Incredible Hulk of Creativity. But, first of all, it is important to remember that creative hobbies should be fun. Yes, we can have creative goals, but they should bring us joy, not stress.
With that in mind, here are 4 ways to strengthen and build your creativity.
- Discover Your Creative Personality Type
The PositiveLivingNow.com article went on to discuss creativity expert Dr. Lynne Levesque’s model of creative personalities. According to Dr. Levesque, we’re all creative, just in different ways.
Once we recognize which personality type we are then we’ll be better equipped to find creative activities that fit our needs and bring us immense. Click the link here to find out more about these creative types.
- Don’t Compare Yourself with Others
One of the worst things you can do is play the comparison game. It is a complete waste of time. We all have different talents and tastes. So, go with your gut and do what makes you feel awesome!
It’s also important to remember that we’re all at different levels. Comparing yourself to someone who has years of experience won’t bring joy. Instead of comparing, either turn off the negative voice and enjoy the process, or ask the person with experience for some helpful tips.
- Redefine What Failure Means to You
For many people, failure is a bad word and they avoid it like the plague. Having this attitude doesn’t take into consideration the fact that no one is perfect, plus it stifles personal growth.
Consider the 2016 Olympic athletes, or just about any athlete for that matter. They train from the time they’re little kids—and they train hard. After years of “perfecting” their abilities, there’s still the possibility of failure.
To achieve success, these athletes look at failure as an opportunity to improve. If they lose a race, they analyze what they need to do to get better. Failure actually builds within them more fire to get the job done.
The same can be said of creative hobbies. If you’re not achieving what you would like, or you mess up, or someone criticizes you, this is an opportunity for growth in two specific ways.
First, you can find out what you need to do to improve. Second, you can decide to take or leave any criticism you get. If you think you did a great job—that’s really the only thing that matters.
- Expand Your Horizons
Trying something outside of your normal realm of interest can lead to something very special. Let’s say you want to learn to play the piano. Will you simply choose to learn songs that you already like, or songs that are typically taught by music teachers (think: Mozart, Beethoven—all of the great classical pianists and composers)?
Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing this. After all, the hobby isn’t going to do you much good if you don’t enjoy it. However, choosing to expand your horizons will greatly benefit you. You could start by learning about jazz pianists of the 1920s, or learn how to play a boogie-woogie blues song or some popular Broadway melodies.
Or, let’s say your goal is to read more. Will you stick to your preferred genre? You could…or, you could try science fiction, fantasy, mystery, non-fiction, or another author within your favorite genre. The possibilities are endless.
When you expand your horizons, you will grow in knowledge, expand your skill-set and find new ways to express your creativity.
How To Go About Setting Your Creative Goals—A Suggestion
Now that you know some of the benefits of getting creative, I bet you’re excited to set some creative goals. I know I am! Now, the purpose of setting creative goals is not to cause stress and add one more thing to your plate. The purpose is to bring some fun into your life.
However, without setting at least a couple of creative goals it can be really difficult to fit your hobbies into your life.
Believe me—I’ve been there! Creative goals are sometimes like my exercise goals…I don’t remember I have them until around 11pm and then it’s just too late to do anything about them at that point.
Having, and writing down, creative goals helps me to make room for them.
I typically start off with the big picture: what do I want to learn or accomplish, either this year or in the next few months? Once I figure that out, I break it up into smaller chunks that can be accomplished each day or week.
As an example: A few years ago I had the goal to start reading more books. I’d been an avid reader most of my life but over the past few years had gotten too busy to do any extracurricular reading. Recalling the joy, relaxation and sense of adventure reading brought to my life, I decided to set the goal of reading one book each month.
That was my big picture goal. I then divided that goal up by first deciding which 12 books I would read that year. Then, at the beginning of the month I would choose which one of those 12 I wanted to read and divide the number of pages up to determine how many pages to read each evening.
Every night, I snuggled into my bed a little earlier than I used to, got super cozy and then read my book. It was a wonderful way to end the day, and…I reached my goal for the year!
Looking at the big picture and seeing what you can fit into the day may work for you too. Or, if you choose to incorporate coloring or knitting into your life, be sure to put everything you need close to your bed, a comfy chair or the couch. This will help ensure that you’ll be comfortable, and be a good reminder to take some time to get creative.
Harnessing Your Personal Power of Creativity
You have a very powerful tool within your grasp. This tool is the innate gift of creativity. Try your best to set aside some time each day or, at the very least, each week to exercise your creative gift. Doing so will bring added happiness and meaning to your life, and will help reduce the stress and anxiety of your busy life.
How about you? What kind of benefits have you seen in your life from incorporating creative hobbies? What steps do you take to reach your creative goals and get those juices flowing? Let us know. Comment below or join the conversation on social media.
written by Tammi:
(I want to personally thank Rachel for her beautiful talent of writing and the incredible research she’s done on this topic that is so important to me!)