| Thu, May 08, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

The Link between Creativity and Happiness

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

creativityDid you read this blog title and think to yourself, “Being creative has nothing to do with me”? Don’t you have to be an artist to be “creative”? And who would even want to be a creative person, since being creative means suffering or being depressed?

As it turns out, you don’t need to be Pablo Picasso or Martha Graham to be a creative spirit. That’s because being creative isn’t just about creating art. Researchers say that anyone can be creative, though different people may have different talents. “It really has to do with open-mindedness,” says Dr. Carrie Barron, co-author of The Creativity Cure. Creativity can apply to pursuits as varied as gardening and cooking to writing up a business plan to the ways in which we nurture friendships.

And that’s good news, since creative expression and happiness are strongly linked. It’s hard to be creative when you’re feeling fear, anger or sadness. It’s much easier to be creative when you feel joy, love and curiosity. In fact, creativity generally needs for you to be open to new experiences and stick to the task at hand. And both of those character traits are also strong predictors of life satisfaction. It works the other way, too: people can sometimes be most expressive when they’re happy, perhaps because that’s when they can see things from a different perspective.

How to Boost Your Creativity

So, you may be sold on wanting to stretch those creative muscles a bit, but need some help getting started. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

Learn what you don’t know. You may have several areas in which you know a fair amount. Once in a while, seek out knowledge in a completely new area. Creativity sometimes takes root when you make unexpected connections in different fields of knowledge. And it helps your brain be more flexible to be exposed to something new.

Challenge yourself. Creativity can come from thinking about challenging problems so that new ideas can emerge. Puzzles (like crosswords and Sudoku) and brain teasers are great practice.

Change your environment. Put objects in your living space that inspire you and make you smile. Some examples might be photos, clippings, comics, silly toys, quotations and other mementos. Rotate them with new ones from time to time to help you take notice.

Sleep on it. New ideas really do come to us in our dreams. Keep a sleep journal to record your dreams, as well as what you’re thinking about during the in-between state, just before falling asleep and after first waking up.

Work with someone else. Some of us are more creative working on a team. Think about recruiting someone else to talk through a problem or figure out how to approach a project. Or meet regularly with a friend who’s working on the same type of project.

Go outside. Some people are more innovative and creative in natural settings. And fresh air really can help you clear your head and re-focus your energy and thinking.

The bottom line is that all people can be creative. Whatever your talents and interests, and however you spend your life, make an effort to nurture your creativity. Hopefully, the payoff with be a happier you.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

Medicare & You: The U.S. government’s official Medicare handbook, available online.

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