In a new book called Big Magic, American author Elizabeth Gilbert says that the key to a happy and healthy life is “creative living”, that is, to create something. It could be anything from clay pots and toys to poetry and jewellery.
Here’s a step-wise guide on how to maintain a creative life that also helps you sustain happiness and health.
8 STEPS TOWARDS CREATIVE LIVING
Mindfulness: It teaches one to focus on the present. This helps one to not get flustered, as half the problems arise from fretting about the future or the past. Mindfulness is also about consciously focusing on the positives than the negatives in life. This helps a person be happy.
Doing things out of your comfort zone: We all are raised with a certain set of values. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that we all have fixed notions. Doing things out of your comfort zone, for example, travelling alone, automatically trains your mind to think and interpret differently. This will open up new avenues for you.
Reading: Reading is one of the most effective techniques to follow while on the path of creative living. It improves one’s ability to imagine and concentrate. People who are able to picturise situations that they have read about, are more accepting of situations in real life as well. Hence, they are usually not caught off-guard by any hurdle that comes their way.
Spiritualism: Research proves that those who are spiritual, rank high in psychological strength. This is because they believe they have a superpower to fall back on even in their darkest times. Such personalities do not fear failure.
Learning something new: Pursue a hobby or learn something that has been on your list for a while. Learning charges up your neurons. These exercises help your mind stay younger and healthier.
Self-discovery: Discover and identify what’s working and what’s not in your life. Bring yourself to realise your potential and enhance your creative side.
Vision: Determine where you want to go, and what that might look and feel like. Creativity has to have a direction. Not everyone will understand your vision, but you must know it, understand it, believe in it and follow it.
Cementing your new behaviour: Find ways to reward yourself, and celebrate your creativity and individuality. Have the courage to live your own dreams. Smile through mistakes and cherish success, as and when it comes.
“Creative living is pursuing something you love, and making art forms like dance a part of your daily life. You tend to experience various states of mind that allow a free flow of thoughts, ideas and resourceful emotions across the various roles that you play — of a parent, child, sibling, professional, friend or leader, among others,” says Harini Ramachandran, executive coach.
How does it work? According to experts, the happiness you feel from creating something is different from the happiness you derive when you achieve something. For example, scoring well in your exams or completing a tough project may make you feel happy, but creating something makes you happier in a wholesome manner.
Neeta V Shetty, psychotherapist, explains, “Often, passing an exam and completing a work assignment is linked to what is expected of you from society or your loved ones. However, when you complete a creative project, you meet your expectations. This gives you a sense of fulfilment and happiness.”
How does it help?“As the creative juices take over, there is a feeling of positivity that is induced by the good work being done. It causes a natural ‘high’, and obstacles or pessimism seem to get glossed over,” says Dr Kersi Chavda, psychiatrist.
Many specialists also believe that those who follow creative living are bigger risk-takers. It helps one mould their decision-making and leadership skills. When one is used to thinking differently, the way he or she perceives and interprets life also changes. Then, the approach towards any problem is solution-oriented.
Creative living may not be for everyone: A few people from the creative field deviate from their life’s objective, and lose the creativity in them. Not everyone can handle creative living. Some may fall prey to addictions, some may end up at the wrong places, and some may start hating themselves for not being able to achieve their goals. But the ones who learn to deal with it are the happiest and most satisfied. So, creative living can make you happy or sad.
(With inputs from Dr Swapna Patker, psychologist)