Creativity, Wellness and Well-Being

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Creativity is linked in many complex ways both to general human wellness and to our sense of well-being. The more people do creative things simply because they love to do them, the greater their sense of satisfaction and joy.

This is the last in a series of articles on creativity. I’m a bit sad about that because I found doing the research for the series and fashioning the articles a rewarding, creative experience. But life and time march on, and soon I’ll be on to other things.

Evidence is accumulating that creativity is linked in many complex ways both to general human wellness and to our sense of well-being. Researchers have long known that when creative people engage in their preferred activities, for the most part they’re doing something they love to do. In fact, the more they do things simply because they love to do them, the greater their sense of satisfaction and joy. When people create for the sake of creating, all self-consciousness seems to disappear. They “get lost” in the task, which takes on a life of its own and becomes bigger than they are. Not limited or pressured by specific goals, deadlines, or immediate gain, those who truly treasure the creative process are free to explore and invent and to derive pleasure from the pure experience of doing so.

Creativity is not only linked to a sense of well-being but also to general wellness (including, of course, physical health). Studies on the effects of engaging in creative exercises on maintaining wellness in the elderly show that participating regularly in creative activity is a great way to stay mentally alert, physically healthy, and psychologically vital. In an article on healthy aging for the website Helium, Cheryl O’Brien advocates some important ways to use creativity to promote general wellness, and I have modified and expanded on some of her suggestions:

  • Play for the sake of play. Sure, it’s nice to win at competitive games, but it’s also vitalizing to simply engage in the exercise of “play.” Somehow we knew this intuitively as children but allowed ourselves to forget. Sometimes it can’t get any better than going to the park, swinging on a swing, or even inventing a new game that focuses more on “fun” than on “winning.”
  • Try something new. Explore, discover, and do something you’ve only dreamed of doing before. It’s not as important to do it right as it is to simply do something different and enjoy the experience for its own sake.
  • Expose yourself to artistic expression. Attend a concert or a film festival. Play an instrument or try your hand at a craft.
  • Do something amusing or “silly.” Goof around with some friends. See a comic act. Tell some jokes or just have a good laugh. As noted in a prior post, these things are really good for the soul. (See “Humor and Health: 4 Ways to Get More Laughter, the Best Medicine”.)
  • Do some things both physically challenging as well as refreshing. Engage in a good exercise routine. Pamper yourself with a massage.
  • Stimulate your senses. Do a wine and cheese tasting. Schedule a long lunch where you can taste something new, and spend enough time to truly “savor” the experience.

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Nurturing one’s creative spirit has a lot to do with maintaining a healthy and vital life. Life itself is all about creative growth. Death is the cessation of growth. It’s one thing to be alive — and quite another to feel alive. Honoring our instinctive need for creative experience and expression is the best way to live long, stay well, and enjoy vitality.

Next week I’ll be beginning a series of articles that preview some of the most important topics in my upcoming book Character Disturbance. The release date on this book has been delayed twice already, but the end is really in sight now! Hopefully, the finished product will prove itself worth the wait. In the meantime, blog readers will get a “sneak peak” into some of the book’s more interesting and possibly controversial aspects.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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