Creative activities such as painting, writing, drawing wood-working, playing music, cooking and landscaping will make you healthier, reduce stress, help you problem solve and boost your happiness. Creativity also appears to make you more generous toward others and easier to be around!
Creativity is an activity that occurs by connecting the activities that occur in various parts of our brains. Anna Abraham, a neuroscientist and author of The Neuroscience of Creativity said in Scientific American that one of the things that’s unique about creativity in the brain is that it draws from both sides. This is actually what makes creativity unique compared to other brain functions, like language or motion, that originate in a specific region.
In a 2018 study researchers determined creativity is higher in people who are able to connect the parts of our brain that provide imagining with decision making and focus and the ability to switch among these functions. Usually brain activity doesn’t occur much between these networks, but in highly creative brains, interactions were strong.
There are many studies supporting the link between creativity and happiness. See the links below. Participants who undertook a creativity priming task that required them to recall three situations where they had behaved creatively before completing another creativity task, reported a higher level of subjective well-being after the task than the control group. In a study of women with stage 1 and 2 breast cancer, creative arts therapy intervention enhanced psychological well-being by decreasing negative emotional states and enhancing positive ones. The authors of a 2019 article concludes creative individuals tend to be better problem-solvers, which in turn lowers their stress levels and promotes happiness.
Creativity is also good for your performance at work and it is good for those around you. A new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman and colleagues found employees who pursue creative activities outside of work find these activities boost their performance on the job. Creativity again makes us better problem solvers, and it also appears to make us more generous with our co-workers in terms of lending a hand.
The most effective way to increase creativity to make space for it, whether journaling as part of a morning routine or wood working in the evening after dinner. If you cannot carve out the space try to build it into existing activities – maybe doodle when taking notes or focusing on creativity when preparing your evening meal.
Doing routine activities in a different way can also fuel creativity, such as taking a different route to work or using your non-dominant hand or refraining from swearing – these kinds of changes “mix it up” in your brain.