Before discussing the benefits of creativity, it’s important to consider “What is creativity?” James C. Kaufman is an American psychologist known for his research on creativity and discusses what exactly creativity is. Kaufman (2016) compares creativity to the way people think about public transportation – it’s great that other people do it, but they don’t want to venture in it themselves. It may lead to a more sustainable life, but it is not something they could foresee themselves doing – same idea with creativity. Creativity, by definition, is the use of the imagination or original ideas. Einstein frequently discussed imagination and creativity, stating “imagination is more important than knowledge (Calaprice, 2000). Sometimes, a little imagination and motivation is all you need.
Research suggests that small acts of creativity in everyday life increase our overall sense of wellbeing. Tamlin Conner, a researcher at the University of Otago in New Zealand, interviewed over 650 young adults to find out how much time they spent in creative experiences each day. He then connected their experiences to their general well-being. The research focused on what the researchers called “flourishing”—an overall sense of meaning, purpose, engagement, and social connection in their lives. People who were engaged in more creative activities than usual on one day reported increased positive emotion and flourishing the next day, finding doing creative things today predicts improvements in well-being tomorrow.
To understand why this phenomena occurs, consider a crafting project that you start on the weekend and continues on the next day. Your general well-being will actually increase the following day because you have the intrinsic motivation to continue the project. Creativity leads to flourishing and positive emotions like energy, enthusiasm, and excitement the next day. Therefore, engaging in small daily acts of creativity may influence overall well-being rather than simply making us feel good in the moment.
Now it’s time to consider “How can I be creative?” Creativity and art are not synonymous and there are many ways to be creative. You may think “I’m not creative,” but then spend hours putting on a puppet show for a toddler, or managing the family’s budget with financial strategies that others did not consider, or improvising a dinner out of what is left in the pantry.
Start your creative journey with some of these experiences:
Start with a morning free write
Travel to somewhere new
Take up cooking
Keep a doodle journal
Listen to music while you work
Try to come up with new solutions to a problem
Creativity has the magical power to engage people without any external rewards. So however you decide to be creative, make sure it provides intrinsic motivation, and aligns with your goals and desires.
Kaufman, James (2 nd .Ed)(2016). Creativity 101. New York. Springer Publishing. Purchase Tamlin, S. C. (2016). Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing, https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2016.125704