I have been reminded lately of how incredibly beautiful God's creation is. I'm not sure if it comes with being able to be outside again after a long winter, having the chance to travel to some wonderful parts of the country, or simply by practicing the discipline of slowing my life down a little in order to take the time to enjoy my surroundings.
In the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to hike in the Rocky Mountains, have become a "kayaker" and have been enjoying lakes and rivers at the pace of my own rowing, and even sat through a presentation on South Dakota wildflowers. learning about their individual purposes and unique features. All of these experiences have intensified my understanding of God's creativity and His own appreciation for beauty. He could have made our surrounding, the animals, fish, etc. so much less vivid and varied, but He loves to express Himself through His creation so that we can get a better glimpse of who He is.
Then I got to thinking that if we are made in His image, we too are capable of this same creativity and appreciation for beauty. Granted, not all of us are fine artists but as I have thought about this concept, I see that we need to redefine what it means to be creative or to be an "artist".
I happen to love music, dance, theatre, all forms of fine art, and literature. But I also love graffiti on train cars, restored vintage vehicles, hip-hop lyrics, well done tatoos, and watching Bruce Lee in action. So, isn't that all "art" as well?
I think that all of us have creative instincts and even artistry inside of us if we just look outside of the box a little. All 4 of my sons are artists and are extremely creative so I can certainly understand when people say that they wish that they were creative like that but simply are not. I too have said that at times when being a mother to such talented kids has been more than a little intimidating. Even my 2 daughters-in-law are gifted artists so that's even more intimidating! But, I too have had to see my own gifts for what they are and identify the creativity inside of them.
When I hear the comment from people that they are not artistic, I often challenge them to look deeper. I see "artwork" in a creative scrapbook, a well done welder's bead, a beautifully landscaped yard, a delicious meal, and a crocheted blanket. I even saw a couple on a Harley Davidson motorcycle the other day and they had matching leather jackets and pants that coordinated with the equipment they had on their gorgeous shiny bike. It was truly beautiful.
So why is it important to become a more creative person and to be able to express ourselves in this way? Because research is showing great benefits from doing so; both emotionally and physiologically.
Benefits of being creative:
- Creativity helps us to live longer and to experience overall better health. In Scientific American magazine, researches found that creativity decreases mortality because of the way it stimulates neural networks in the brain. Nicholas Turiano from the University of Rochester Medical Center says "keeping the brain healthy may be one of the most important aspects of aging successfully- a fact shown by creative persons living longer in our study." A connected benefit is that research has shown that this creativity can also lower the change of developing age onset dementia. Creating some form of art has been shown to decrease negative emotions which reduces stress and anxiety, improving the overall quality of health.
- Creativity encourages emotional health by helping you to be a better problem solver since you learn to look at all angles of problems. It also helps you to live more successfully with the idea of uncertainty since much of the creative process requires much trial and error. One of the most important benefits has shown to be the outlet that creativity provides for emotions. This can be helpful in dealing with emotional hurt and trauma as it provides a voice for these deep seated emotions.
- Creativity helps to develop self-confidence and self-awareness. Being creative and developing some form of artwork introduces risks and failures that the individual learns to work through. It requires a certain amount of vulnerability and learning that failure is part of the process, survivable, and even necessary for the process to be enhanced. Working through this process and discovering what you are actually capable of, can help you determine who you are as a person. Alan Alda said, "The creative is the place no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself."
If we want to join God in creating beauty in the midst of so many "unbeautiful" aspects of this world, we need to start inside of ourselves. Cultivating creativity inside of us can affect everyone around us. Howard Thurman said, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that...because what the world needs are people who have come alive."
What can you do to develop this creative part of you? What can you do even though you don't see yourself as creative? For ideas, check out Crystal Moody's website yearofcreativehabits.com for ideas of what others are doing to discover what helps them to come alive.