My daughter has this ongoing project where she takes trash, bottle caps and bubble wrap, pencil shavings, scraps of ribbon, and tin foil, packing peanuts and popcorn kernels and just about anything else she can find to create a world on a flat of cardboard.
With a glue gun, singular pockets of an egg carton become chairs, bubble wrap becomes a mattress, and the bottle tops are good for just about anything from bowls to coffee tables and lamp shades and clouds. It’s her recycle project, she says. It keeps her going for hours.
We’ve all got that within us, the ability to look at the same old things in new enlightening ways. To make something from nothing. And that creativity, which often gets buried deep by our grown-up status, is critical to our health and longevity, not to mention, our quality of life.
Creativity helps us understand ourselves, the world
We are meant to create. It’s built in from the early days when we created tools from stone and ink from ash and paintings on the walls of caves. It’s how we survive. Make sense of the world. Know ourselves.
That self-expression adds meaning and beauty and inspiration. It provokes and informs. When we do it, of course. When we let loose our creativity and let it run. We must do this, yet we get trapped by time and chores and bills and excuses. Caught up on our stress.
We begin to look at the world in only one way, the one way we’ve gotten used to, become familiar with. We forget to look up, to see that everything changes moment by moment, because we are alive.
Instead, we eat the same meals on Tuesday and drive the same way to work, and sit in the same chair to watch the same Friday-night show before going to bed at the same time we always do.
Slowly, this comfortable routine becomes less-than. We feel stifled and stuck and bored and boring. Then we get tired. We disconnect from the things that once inspired us – our practices, our partner, our work, our hobbies, our hikes, our travels.
We do things, sure. Chores mostly. But we don’t make anything out of it. We close up our creativity with statements like “I could never do that.” “I’m not creative.” “I’m too busy.”
And we get worn out from this very process of not creating anything. Sure, it bothers us. It doesn’t feel right because it’s moving us away from our expansive nature, our authenticity.
This is where we say “I’d like to get back to my painting, if only I had the time.” “I’d like to dance again, if only I had the energy.”
Creativity adds life and energy
Let’s get real clear about this: you will not have the time or energy again unless you create. It’s the routine, the predictable familiar moves we make each day that sacks us. Sucks our life force right out. Leaves us sitting there, dehydrated on the couch.
Plenty of studies have shown that those who continue to create, something – anything throughout their lives — live longer, feel more socially connected, have healthier brains and fewer doctors appointments and a whole lot more fun.
You’ve got to do this. Right? This isn’t about creating art, it’s about creating a life. About vitality. About reconnecting to your highest energy and the greatest possibilities.
You don’t have to worry about what will come out. You don’t have to know what will be created – only that something will. And when we do this, we are the creators, we are expanding into a place that can only inspire and fuel exploration and engagement and opportunity. This is hopeful. This is exciting. This is rejuvenating. This is life.
And this is really is so easy. I’m not kidding. On Wednesday, I’ll offer some ways you can do it.
But today, start with this: Do something different today. Bring in a bit of novelty. Try something new, do something you’ve always wanted to do and you’ll quickly reconnect with the creative force that is already within you. Laugh. Walk with your head up and see what’s before you.
Build in time to explore. Redecorate a room, cook a new food, paint a bad painting, sing in the shower, write, dance, crochet, go for a drive in a different part of town, build in the time to do something. Express something, share something, connect, create. You will be enlivened. You will be energized. You will be creating not just a picture or a new recipe or a recycled project with your kid, but a whole life. A life of wonder and possibility and fun.
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