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A fairly standard definition of creativity is the ability to create new (or original) ideas of values. Expressing these innovative ideas in some form, bringing them to life, is called “creative expression.” Too often we confuse more general creative expression with artistic expression, which is just one form of creative expression. As a result, most of us don’t consider ourselves creative. For example, in the United States, only 52% of people consider themselves creative, while that figure drops to 36% in France and 19% in Japan. However, the truth is that we are all creative or at least have the ability to be creative.
Related: Why Your Creativity Is Your Most Valuable Skill
You live, you breathe creativity
Science will agree that there is no other you in the universe. It is an undeniable fact that there is no other living being with the exact biological composition (i.e. nature) and experience (i.e. upbringing) that has shaped the individual you become. Even if you believe in alternate universes, parallel universes, or multiverses – or even if you have been cloned – all other versions of you will still be different in their experiences and will be different from you as a result. Your experiences shape who you are, and it is simply impossible to replicate your life experiences exactly as it happened to you. You are therefore one of a kind: a new and original idea that has never been seen before and will never be seen in your lifetime. That your life has intrinsic value is obvious. That’s why you live, breathe creativity. The challenge is understanding how you express your creativity.
There are two general forms of creative expression: direct creative expression and indirect creative expression. Direct creative expression includes all forms of art and communication where you deliberately convey an idea or message. Indirect creative expression includes lifestyle, way of doing and way of living. Your whole life is an exercise in creative expression. Everything you do and say carries with it some basic truth, directly or indirectly, based on your unique perspective. When you are mindful and purposeful in your daily life, the choices you make are an exercise in creative expression. So, being creative involves being mindful and purposeful in your daily life and the choices you make – i.e. what you wear, what you eat, what words you choose, how you practice (or not), your spiritual practices, etc. In other words, creative expression is mindfulness practice where which you are at the moment. Not surprisingly, the scientifically proven benefits of creativity overlap with the scientifically proven benefits of mindfulness.
Related: Science shows how creativity can reduce stress
Scientifically proven benefits of creative expression
“Being creative can increase positive emotions, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve the functioning of our immune system.” The same health benefits can be attributed to the practice of mindfulness. This means that focusing on your creativity is associated with “higher activated positive affect,” including increased joy and happiness. According to the American Heart Association, happiness not only improves mental health, but can also lead to significant improvements in physical health. In fact, “up to 80% of visits to primary care physicians are for conditions caused or exacerbated by uncontrolled stress.” Therefore, by reducing stress and improving your overall mental state, focusing on creativity will also improve your physical health.
Creativity is also related to the “state of flow”. Being in a state of “flow” is similar to being in a zone where you are completely absorbed in some activity and time seems to cease to exist. Flow is similar to mindfulness in that you are totally in the moment (creativity, flow, mindfulness, happiness – they are all interconnected). Of course, achieving flow has similar health benefits.
In addition, using your creativity can be therapeutic and a way to relieve trauma, deal with addictions, and various other mental illnesses. According to certified arts therapist Lauren Deaven, “engaging in creativity is a cathartic, healing act partly because your attention and focus are focused on the present moment, much like meditation…Art therapy uses the inherent benefits of creativity as a tool to enhance mental health.”
Finally, while creativity has many scientifically proven health benefits, perhaps the most compelling benefit of developing it is that it will lead you to fulfill your life purpose. The idea that your life serves a purpose means that there is some value you have to provide to this world only you are able to provide. After all, if your goal could be fulfilled by someone else, then that goal could not be the reason You they were born special (servants AND a purpose in life that is not unique to you is not the same as service your specific life purpose. Your creativity – your original ideas and valuable creations – is the only thing that only you can bring to this world. Therefore, your life purpose must be rooted in your creativity. This means that fulfilling your life purpose (i.e., providing the world with some value that only you can provide) will come from your creative expression.
Related: How art helped me find a different perspective on business (and life)