“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner – continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you – is a fine art, in and of itself.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Last week, we wrapped up Pillar #6 of “The Year of the Best You” – Food is Medicine. Today, we will start on Pillar #7 – Embrace Your Creativity. As before, we will discuss this pillar a bit more below, provide a printable PDF worksheet for the month and then recap how we made out on July 30th.
Someone I mention over and over again in my writing is qualitative researcher Dr. Brené Brown. If you know any of her work, you know that she is one of the greatest thought leaders of our generation. One of the themes that is woven throughout her work and writing is the benefits of cultivating creativity, and it is one of her 10 guideposts to “wholehearted living”. Ultimately, most of us want to live a wholehearted life where we abolish “what will people think” and embrace “I am enough”. Brené often refers to our ‘art scars’ from childhood where at some point our creative expression was judged negatively. I don’t know about you, but I can remember many times throughout school where English, art and home economics assignments should have been acknowledged for originality instead of being graded, especially when it was not graded as we expected.
Brené also tells the story of how she used to say she didn’t have time for A-R-T because she had a J-O-B. She now believes creativity is an essential part of her life. If you think you aren’t creative, it might just be something you tell yourself to shield from the judgment of others. We all have the ability to express creativity in some way, shape or form.
Creativity & wellbeing
Creative expression can effectively reduce stress and also contributes to our overall wellness. In a Psychology Today article, Creativity as a Wellness Practice, they point out some interesting highlights from studies supporting this notion:
“As of 2015, additional studies indicate that creative self-expression and exposure to the arts have wide-ranging effects on not only cognitive and psychosocial health, but also physical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, various forms of dementia and cancer. One of the most compelling studies was recently conducted by the Mayo Clinic and proposed that people who engage in art activities (painting, drawing and sculpting; crafts, like woodworking, pottery, ceramics, quilting, quilling and sewing) in middle and old age may delay cognitive decline in very old age.”
I often think back to the impact a creative project had for me as a way to relieve stress during medical school. I started working on a needlepoint project at the beginning of medical school and it took me pretty much the 4 years to complete! It was a gift to my parents to thank them for helping me get to that point in life. And the more stressed I am these days, the more likely you will find me baking/creating in the kitchen. Writing blog posts has become a wonderful stress reliever as well.
What constitutes creativity?
My interest in this area has certainly expanded my notions of what really constitutes creativity. Most of us conjure an image with this question – a painting, a song, a book – but it is so much more. It is imagination, creation, ideas, passion, love, fun, therapy, energy, spirituality – most of all, it is different for everyone. We often have to free ourselves from this idea of “what will people think” to share our creation with the world. The beauty is our creative work doesn’t have to benefit anyone other than YOU!
As I was writing this post, I was thinking of an ‘art scar’ that I likely caused my husband Colin. Writing and cooking are two of the types of creative expression I engage in the most. For the first part of our nearly 21 year marriage, Colin often avoided cooking of any kind. Now, he really enjoys it and does it often – mostly creations on his barbecue. Not too long ago, I started connecting the dots as to why he had likely avoided it for so many years.
When we first met at the beginning of medical school, he was having to cook for himself for the first time. One time early on, he made a meal for me which involved chicken breast, potatoes and a vegetable – with no spices, butter, oil or sauce of any kind. I was quick to critique the meal (I know I know) and that was the last time he ventured to prepare a meal for a long time – saying I was more the expert in the kitchen. I had been very used to meal preparation so obviously felt I could throw shade his way. Boy was I wrong on that one given what I know now about how damaging these seemingly innocent comments can be about how one expresses their creativity.
The following is a list of creative expressions that come to mind to me:
- Card making
- Creative writing
- Digital innovation
- DIY projects
- Interior design
- Journal writing
- Playing an instrument
- Poetry writing
Remember, we are all creative beings! Please print off the worksheet to join in this month’s activity. I will do the same and we will recap on July 30th.
The Power of Vulnerability – Brené Brown (I HIGHLY recommend this one)
OWN Lifeclass ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ – Brené Brown (including art journaling exercises)
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert