Cherie Roe Dirksen : Why Creativity Promotes Wellness
By Cherie Roe Dirksen
Look at how the creativity in others touches your own life. Try to imagine the world we live in without creativity — envisage Vincent Van Gogh deciding he was no good at painting and never picking up a paintbrush hence not allowing his perspective of beauty and vibrant energy to emerge onto a canvas. Or, how about the auditory delights of a classical composer like Camille Saint-Saens lacking the confidence to grace our ears with his peaceful and evocative rendition of an aquarium? The list could go on as we venture into the world of artistic genius and splendour but I’m sure you get the bleak picture of what our lives would be like if we lacked creativity or the drive to be imaginative.
“When you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius
We feed ourselves with all kinds of things — physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Some things will nourish us while others may be toxic to our delicate systems. Our discernment with what serves us is integral and keeps us either fulfilled or leaves us feeling frustrated and empty. We can do everything ‘by the book’ — for instance, maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercise regularly or get enough sleep. However, if we are suppressing our inner desire to express ourselves, we are denying the one thing that could lead to genuine fulfillment and wholeness.
Take Back Your Creative Control
For those of you who feel that creativity is someone else’s job or you don’t have a creative bone in your body — think again!
Everybody has a spark of creativity within — you don’t have to be a master artist, musician, or architect to be able to express yourself. It is how you conduct yourself in whatever vocation you have chosen that will determine your quality of life and the joy you inject into your surroundings. A mortician can be creative, a nurse can bring vibrance into her workplace — anyone can exude creativity and beauty into their surroundings, it is how you utilize your talents not what your job is that truly counts and defines who you are.
When you embrace your creative flare, you, and those around you, will benefit in more ways that you can imagine. Here’s why:
Not only do you as an individual benefit from lateral and imaginative thinking and then manifesting creation through your skill or expertise, but society benefits too. Can you conceive a world without playwrights, chefs, teachers, musicians, programmers, healers, writers, homemakers, artisans, designers, gardeners, etc? All of these people can, and in many cases do, exercise creative flow with everything they do — regardless of their so-called profession. When you find genuine job fulfillment and gratification, it will be felt by those whom you either interact with or are providing a service for.
The effect of more lateral thought, or thinking ‘out of the box’, and creative endeavor will not only lead you to a space of satisfaction and wellbeing but will reflect in the macrocosm around you. Your ripple effect will be felt by many who will, hopefully, ignite their own spark of creativity to share with the world.
Benefits of Creativity
Creativity is a vital component in society as a whole but what are the immediate benefits to you, the individual?
When you pursue your form of creativity — this could be anything that helps you to relax and express yourself — you will:
- De-stress — When you are in your own creative space, you are more likely to drift away from the material world around you and focus on the inner desire to express through your perspective. This act will decrease your stress levels and automatically put you in a place of ‘time-out’ and relaxation. In an article written by Elizabeth Scott, M.S., she discusses how clinical art therapy is proven to reduce stress through distraction — being so engrossed in a task that inevitably leads you to attain a clear head. She also outlines that being in this flow can be likened to being in a meditative state, which brings with it the added benefits of meditation and stress relief. Having a hobby is essential in promoting balance in your lifestyle and some much needed ‘down time’.
- Stimulate — You will be stimulating the right hemisphere of your brain — the imaginative, lateral mindful state that is induced when you are in your creative ‘zone’. We need balance in all aspects of life and using the right and left hemisphere of the brain is no different. We are usually very much engaged in our left brain — the practical and linear way of thinking — so it is very important to take a vacation to the other side and stretch your legs with imagination, beauty and expressiveness. You will find that when you do this you have a better balance in your everyday life and are less likely to burn-out or have a breakdown.
- Enjoy — Pursuing your creative flame ensures that you will tickle the inner child that bursts to express joy and ingenuity. When you do this, you will find that the tasks you do that invoke such inventiveness also bring elation. Connecting with your creativity will connect you with your joy.
- Find Satisfaction — Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said that our intrinsic motivation is whatever produces flow which ultimately becomes its own reward. When you are in this flow of creative expression, you will feel the ultimate satisfaction. When you take pleasure in what you do, you are contributing your valuable, unique skill to the world — what more satisfaction do you need?
What Can You Do Now
To Engage in Creativity?
How can you practically find what it is that will bring you this satisfaction? Try answering these simple questions:
- What is it, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you right now, that makes you feel a sense of timelessness?
- Gives you a feeling of peacefulness or sereneness?
- Lets you focus and be immersed in your imagination?
- Gives you a sense of joy that is not related to any external source? In other words, it is coming from your sense of purpose or originality.
Sometimes we dismiss the very thing that is our pure, originative source of creativity. It could be the mindless doodling you draw in the side column of your desk pad that may end up being the foundation of a career in design. It might even be that green thumb you’ve always had in the garden that leads you down the path of professional landscaping. No matter how big or small the basis of this creativity is, you cannot know where it will lead you if you do not pursue it.
Everybody has a gift although the packages may vary. If you are truly stumped, then go out into the big wide world and find something that interests you. Take an art class or a creative writing course — keep trying new things until you find something that clicks into place for you. But, most important of all, life is about the journey — have fun in the process of finding and exploring the inner creative! •
© 2012 Cherie Roe Dirksen. All rights reserved.
Cherie is a self-empowerment author and multi-media artist from Cape Town. More »