Creativity and happiness

by | Jan 24, 2017

I’m frequently surprised at the simplicity of the techniques that can lead to a happier life. More so by how few of us, myself included, engage in them.

When I read articles, I often find myself wondering why I don’t already know something that seems so obvious.  I had one of those moments earlier this week when exploring the connection between creativity, art and happiness.

As children, most of us spent much of our time painting, drawing, building and more – in short, creating. I regularly handed my parents little spontaneous tokens of love, wrapped in raw macaroni with glue dripping off them.

Why did I stop?

Exploring happiness leads to some interesting realisations and, another point of surprise for me lies with the fact that many of the recommended techniques are the very things that we’re taught as children. Perhaps we all need to regress, just a bit.

Take a more childlike approach to life

As a case in point, when a child is taken out to a restaurant, what do they typically give them to calm them down and keep them entertained? A colouring book. It acts as a calming mechanism, focusing the child’s attention. Science shows us that adults can gain similar benefits from colouring, lowering stress levels, reducing negative thoughts, entering a meditative state and generally becoming more mindful and creative.

That’s quite a list of benefits from an activity that most of us view as childish. Though, if you’ve been in a bookshop lately, you’ll probably have noticed that adult colouring books have become quite the trend.

Alternatively, if you’re a draw out of the lines kind of person, like me, other forms of art can offer the same result. Like any creative activity, you need to find something that feels right for you.

Finding your flow

If colouring isn’t your thing, find something that matches your personality. Clay-making, painting old furniture, doodling ‘Mrs Ryan Gosling’ repeatedly in the back of your notepad… Look for the things that you enjoy. The important thing is to be creative!

I enjoy taking on projects and you’d see that if you were to look around my apartment. Most of the original, build-it-yourself furniture is barely recognisable. I enjoy making things look vintage; painting them, sanding them, banging holes into them. I know, it sounds odd, but it’s where I feel completely immersed and lose track of time.

Positive psychologists have identified that we most easily enter a flow state when engaging in an activity we find enjoyable. It comes from the alignment of activity and skill when we can begin to rely on our subconscious mind.

So this week strive for flow. Find something you enjoyed as a kid or might enjoy now; have fun with photography, take an art course or listen to your favourite music while drumming to your own beat. Just engage your creativity once per day. It doesn’t have to be for hours, but get your imagination working.

About Fiona Barron

Fiona is a happiness advocate who is on a mission to spread positivity through simple evidence based practices, weekly blogs and community events. Through a combination of research, scientific journals and anecdotal experience, she invites you to join her as she pieces together the jigsaw of how to become your best self.

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