“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
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Happiness, and the search for happiness, is the motivation behind a lot of what we do in life. It is the source of books, media, research, and the list goes on, but ask anyone what happiness means to them and you will invariably get a different answer. I would argue that what we are all really looking for in life is emotional wellness. Striving to be emotionally well is a more realistic longterm goal as opposed to striving to be happy for life. As an essential part of our overall well-being, emotional wellness not only takes into consideration our mental health, but also our emotions, how we regulate them and what contributes to them. So, having said this, I would like to consider 3 ways, or 3 C’s, to help improve your emotional wellness – Community, Creativity and Contentment.
#1 – Community
I am a real advocate for the power of community building to prevent burnout and negative feelings, and thereby, enhance positive emotions and our emotional wellness. As an example on social media, in one of my previous posts, Celebrating Diversity & Professionalism With a Hashtag, I talked about the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon which truly illustrates the positive impact of a community building project. This hashtag continues to gain momentum and celebrates a community of surgeons, looking beyond geographical barriers, gender, race, age, or any other imaginary line that divides us. We are all humans living on the same planet, and by building communities, we can unite ourselves in a life-changing way.
#2 – Creativity
The concept of creativity is an ongoing passion of mine. I continue to marvel at the positive emotions, and suppression of negative emotions, creativity can have on anyone. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the best-selling book Eat Pray Love, has a new book titled Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. In this book, she offers her inspirational perspective on creativity. She feels that creativity lies within all of us and can lead to joy. Of note, both the opening and closing quotes from this post are from this book.
This past week, I was inspired by the 2 pieces below written by fellow physician bloggers. Each of them beautifully illustrates how moving past the fear of vulnerability and expressing creativity can lead to a boost in our emotional well-being.
Dr. Kathy Hughes – On Writing: Marking the Anniversary of A Blog
Dr. Amalia Cochrane – Why I Write
#3 – Contentment
My very wise husband pointed out to me that, in general, people spend more time searching for what will hopefully make them happy as opposed to being content with what they have. He also feels that contentment and gratitude fall along a spectrum, and as we know, the evidence between gratitude and happiness is irrefutable. To further his thoughts, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, interviewed Heidi Grant Halvorson, who studies the science of motivation, where Heidi says:
“As we grow older, we find that happiness becomes more and more about being content in our current circumstances, and hanging on to what we’ve already got – working things out with your spouse, staying healthy, and being able to make your mortgage payments.”
In essence, what we are searching for is right here and now.
In closing, from Elizabeth Gilbert:
“So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”