I have known first hand the benefits that creativity has had for me for many years. I have studied creativity and how it has effected everything from improving cognition, problem solving, to elevating mood. Studies have been offering up many insights about the many benefits that creativity has to offer that bears being aware about.
Before I count the many ways, let me first acknowledge the elephant in the room many of you are no doubt thinking about and it probably goes something like this, “That’s great, Parker, but I’m just not creative!”
First, let me explain that you don’t have to be an immense talent in order to enjoy what you are doing. Children are born creative and artistic for the simple reason that they aren’t concerned about whether they are good or not. You might love to drive, but are you going to be a Formula1 race car driver? You don’t need to be a prima donna balerina to be able to enjoy dancing, right? As children, we embrace life and many activities like the arts, with abandon. Children simply don’t worry about what their art looks like, they just enjoy the act of coloring or shaping clay, singing, or dancing. The self-consciousness about not being able to make their art or creative output look or sound like a professional doesn’t happen until children get older, afterwhich most of the child artists slowly fade away. This condition is reversible and it is as simple as coaxing a turtle out of its shell.
The key, or one of them, is to begin with what you like, go with what really excites and inspires you. It doesn’t even need to be about being great at technique. It could be as simple as your love of color, so start there. You might love nature, so begin there; looking at flowers, leaves, trees, mountains or water. Then let that love carry you forward. When you love something it is much easier to throw your whole heart into it. Follow your heart.
I’ll admit to you that I love fire. I also like making things in art, not just drawings or paintings. It led me to casting metal in college and then later blowing glass. It isn’t all of what I love about 3-D art, but that love pushed me forward to also develop the skills necessary to work the material to higher and higher levels of refinement. It was hard work, but it was well worth the technical hurdles and challenges. To find what you love, this might involve some exploration. Maybe its music, or dance, or knitting, or building furniture. All of it is creative. That said, let me enumerate some of the big points that creativity brings out in nearly everyone.
Creativity Is Play
Being able to play is important in our lives. Play helps us to create a break from the worries or pressures of life. Play supports an important spectrum of feel-good chemistry in our bodies that helps to elevate mood.
Creativity Helps Combat Depression
When you are wrapped up in a creative project, it gives your mind a focus that washes away the blues. Being able to keep your mind moving from one choice to another leads to being able to crowd out what you have been dwelling on that keeps you worried or feeling stuck. Plus, there are a lot of feel good chemicals we reward ourselves with when we enjoy doing something that can help us feel and be healthier.
Creativity Uses The Whole Brain
We know now that the left brain acts as a rational linear processor while the right brain is holistic, nonlinear, and is the feeling part of ourselves. It’s curious how when you look at our technological developments, the bulk of them are rooted in linear processing. Being able to build into your life something that will engage your right brain, the opposite of the linear task master left brain, and shifting into right brain activity will also help you relate better to your own feelings. Creative pursuits definately taps emotional intelligence as part of our process of expressing ourselves. It’s not hard to be analytical, try changing how you feel by a form of self expression. Being creative has the power to reach into feeling and helps you turn on a dime emotionally.
By using both your feeling self and your rational self, you can do what results in a synthesis between the two.
Hint: this is where inspiration dwells and that’s the secret sauce that artists credit for being wildly creative.
Creativity Helps You To Be A Better Problem Solver
So whole brain thinking is a real plus, but this also helps with something problems, be they creative, or saving the world. Whole brain thinking allows you to see both the micro view and the meta view, allowing you the flexibility to make more inclusive conclusions and make more considered decisions.
Creativity Boosts Self-Esteem
If you can really enjoy what you are doing creatively, it boosts your feel-good chemistry and that can make you feel good about yourself, a glow that has a tendency to stay on for a while after you are done with your project or creative activity. Giving yourself the gift of time with something that you enjoy helps you to keep in mind the importance of self-care. That, too, is an important element in learning how to keep feeling good.
But wait! There’s more! In studies just on the effects music lessons have on children, the advantages go far beyond just being good at music.
In children who had music lessons, their grades across the board improved because of how music uses so many different parts of the brain. But this is an advantage adults can realize also. In a recent study people who studied music, for example, had increased cognitive abilities, memory improvement, decreased aging and dementia, better language skill, higher I.Q. and better grades.
All arts have similar results, and the benefits go far beyond being good at something, practicing art literally lights up the brain, and that has far reaching results for all of us.
Perhaps this is why people who come to the studio to make things have such a bounce in their step and a smile on their face. The arts are transformative!
To learn about the results of the music study, click HERE.
Parker Stafford is an educator and glass artist living and working in the New River Valley of Virginia. He is the owner of Stafford Art Glass in Newport. You may find him on Facebook and his work at his website.