Being Creative Makes Us Happy

Happy child with painted handsYears ago I heard Nobel Prize winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney give a lecture at the University of Washington. In the middle of this very academic speech, he paused, threw up both his hands and said, “oh, just write for the joy of it” and then dipped back into the lecture. I don’t remember anything else from the talk but Heaney’s sudden burst of inspiration stayed with me because I think it really captured an essential element to being creative.

Whether you are cooking a great meal, growing a beautiful garden, writing a poem or singing in the community choir, you likely feel a deep sense of satisfaction and a joyfulness that comes with being creative. Creativity draws on the best of human nature: perception, imagination, intellect, inspiration, courage, intuition, and empathy. The urge to create asks us to bask in the experience of the world, to see, feel, taste, hear, and smell the magnificence around us.  It allows us to celebrate, with a spirit of gratefulness, every aspect of our lives and the beauty and complexity the world offers. It can help us make meaning from our sufferings.

Being creative also breaks us free from our ruts and habits allowing us to look at the world anew. We are able to tell a story that touches others, envision a unique way of solving a problem or offer counsel with fresh clarity, even if we have struggled with the same material or ideas a hundred times before. Embracing our creativity allows us to tap a deeper more insightful way of knowing beyond our conscious mind and thoughts.

I think being creative feels so good because it connects us to divine imagination and when we actively participate in developing and fulfilling our gifts it feels like a mystical experience. We intuit that we are connected to something larger than ourselves which is perhaps the greatest gift that comes from following our creative urges. Early in my work as a writer when I became aware that I was writing from an inspired sense of flow, I would get this urge to look around the room to see where is was coming from because I sensed it was exactly coming from me. Now I am just always deeply grateful when I tap fully into that vein and welcome it with a sense of grace.

In looking for your own ways of being creative you can start by celebrating your uniqueness. There never was, nor ever will be, anyone exactly like you. In exploring your uniqueness there is often a central preoccupation, an interest or passion that runs through your life? There can also be more than one.

If you can’t name it right now, think of something that you are fascinated by again and again. The possibilities are infinite; from needlework to rock climbing, from bird watching to playing the piano, from English country dancing to writing haiku, from gardening to giving foot massages. Look for what brings you joy and then begin taking actions to embrace your creativity and enjoy the process. One small step a day will set you down the creative path to increased happiness and fulfillment.

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