The Creative Imperative

How innovation and play beget wellbeing

Everyday Creativity

Why you should make creating part of your daily routine

For those of you who are still on vacation, I hope you are not reading this, but instead you are sitting by a lake far, far away from the Internet.  For the rest of you, who are still at, or back at, work, the Dog Days are upon us, which means that even if you have the will to create, it may not be so easy to find your way...

Last week, I attended a summit on Imagination and Creativity (http://www.livestream.com/imaginationsummit), which brought together some of the most innovative minds in the world, including Sir Ken Robinson and Dr. Deepak Chopra.  It was an inspiring event and added fuel to my fire that a meaningful life is a creative one. 

One of the points that many of the speakers made during the conference was that the key difference between "inspiration" and "creativity" is action.  Everyone has an imagination, but not everyone puts it to use by actively engaging with it.  The fact is that talk is cheap. Well, maybe not my kind of talk, but you get the idea.  Creating is all in the doing. 

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I have recently been talking to some of the folks who I work with about performing creative action as a matter of habit, much like GPs talk about thorough hand washing or dentists encourage daily flossing.  Developing creative habits helps build your skill and capacity for self-expression, promotes your self-esteem, and keeps your mind loose and nimble, which is handy when life doesn't go as you expect it to (it never does).  It doesn't matter if you know exactly what you are going to create or how what you are making fits in to your master plan - if you have one. 

Creative action has value in and of itself.  Plus, what you create may work its way into your life in ways that you don't expect.  For example, one writer who I am working with lost his dog to cancer.  I encouraged him to write about it as part of his grieving process.  Several months later, while out to dinner with a few friends and colleagues, an editor of a major magazine asked him if he had any interest in writing a story about loss, and he just happened to have one at the ready.  The piece was published a few months later and well received.  This writer received many responses to his piece from readers who thanked him for expressing just the right tone of sadness, respect, and dark humor.

The takeaway from all of this is that you should try to schedule a daily time to create something, anything that is a genuine expression of who you are, what you are thinking about or struggling with. Even five minutes of dedicated daily creative time can make all the difference to you.  And to the world... 

 

 

Ben Michaelis, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping patients achieve mental health and well-being through creative expression.

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