Creativity Matters

Science tells us that small acts of creativity done regularly can boost our positive mood and increase overall feelings of wellbeing. However, we often tell ourselves that we’re not creative types. Okay, not everyone was meant to be a world-famous artist or musical celebrity, but we all have the opportunity to use creativity in our everyday lives to make room for a little bit of fun, inventiveness and play.

Do you remember that time when a teacher or a well-meaning relative, told you that you couldn’t sing, dance, draw, paint or act? I do. I had my creativity crushed when I asked my mother if “I could learn ballet?”. She laughed at me and said, “I don’t think you’re the ballerina type darling”. A couple of weeks later she enrolled me in tap dancing classes. I remember going to those classes and feeling so uncomfortable and out of place. What a deflating experience and definitely something I’d prefer to forget. That took me quite a few years to get over. However some years later, I’ve managed to rekindle my relationship with creativity.

On reflection, there were lots of activities that my parents enrolled me in that actually stifled my creative genius. I remember going to piano lessons, sewing classes, girl guides and church activities. But I was never allowed to participate in art classes or theatre. Perhaps my parents failed to see those activities as being of value in the ‘real world’. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. It is often said that creativity is innate and if you’re not born with artistic abilities, you’ll never have any talent. Too often we believe that about ourselves.

On the flip side, there is an almost mythical belief that creativity goes hand in hand with madness; think of Vincent Van Gogh or Sylvia Plath, for example. Van Gogh’s genius as a painter is now well known, and Plath’s brilliance as a poet and writer is universally acknowledged. But in the popular imagination they are both linked with depression, mental illness and suicide.

The idea that talent is something we’re born with and that the dark side of creative genius is poor mental health has set up an apparent duality in which creativity is associated with genetic luck and/or poor mental health. As mental health expert Tony Gillam has written, this myth works to inhibit most of us from ever exploring our creativity. In effect we are shutting down half of our brain and limiting our personality.

If the connection between mental illness and creativity is a myth…by contrast there is growing evidence that participation in artistic and creative activity may be beneficial for mental health.

Tony Gillam,
Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice (Palgrave 2018, p.36)

It’s now time to change our thinking: we have to recognise the benefits of exploring our own creativity. Everybody can be creative, all it takes is imagination and will. Creativity is also really good for us. We know from hundreds of scientific research papers that being engaged in something creative – even something as simple as listening to music – is good for our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. There’s even a research project at the University of Canberra that is using play as a therapy for seniors to help keep them active and engaged because the evidence tells us that happy people live healthier lives.

You can imagine then just how much more powerful creativity can be when we are involved in our own forms of making. We get a sense of personal control when we are able to make things with our hands and imagination. This sense of control can, in turn, contribute towards our sense of happiness and our quality of life.

We should all be thinking about our creativity as a form of play. We know how carefree young children seem to be when engaged in creative, imaginative play. By reintroducing a bit of conscious creativity into our lives we can start to regain that feeling and allow it to help us overcome the day-to-day stress of our busy lives. Psychologists know that there is a strong positive correlation between expressing our creativity and positive mental health.

How do we become more creative?

For individuals, creativity can be defined as an ability to develop new patterns of thought or ideas that can find expression in the physical world. The idea has to be “novel” – that is new – and it has to have some form of existence outside of our mind. In a social or work-related context, creativity is linked to productivity, originality, innovation, problem-solving and usefulness.

We can also talk about creativity in terms of “big C” creative and “little c” creative and this is a useful idea so that we’re not overwhelmed by thinking that to be creative we have to write a brilliant novel, design and award-winning product, or paint like Rembrandt. Creativity with a capital “C” is important but we have to remember that for most famous creatives, their success comes after a lifetime of hard work, several failures and a single-minded focus on their idea. The world needs people like that; of course it does. But not everybody needs to be a world-famous author or architect in order to express themselves creatively.

This is where the little “c” creativity comes in. Small “c” creativity is the creativity of everyday people and it is expressed in daily problem-solving, story-telling, in dabbling with pastels, making a scrapbook, or tinkering on the piano. Making time in your life for a little bit of personal creativity is not only rewarding and fun, it helps to keep your mind active and it is stress-relieving.

Now comes the contradiction; creativity requires both work and play (Gillam, p.20). In order to be more creative, we have to possess “the creative state of mind” (Gillam, p.23). But don’t despair if you don’t think you already have this state of mind’ Tony Gillam is adamant that, under the right conditions, we can discover our own creativity. In other words, if we know where to look, and we have a few easily acquired skills, we can develop our own creative streak and have some fun along the way. If we strengthen our brain muscle with some simple creativity-building exercises, we will find our creative side and build our self-confidence as we go.

The first step in discovering our own creativity is to let go of the negative thoughts such as,  “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” these thoughts can hold us back and prevent us from discovering our creative potential. Overcoming our own self-doubt begins with embracing the idea that creativity is something we learn, not something innate or only available to special people. Tony Gilllam recommends that we make creativity part of our everyday lives using some simple techniques to help us think, feel and enjoy the pleasure of playful creation. We have pit together some techniques, suggestions and tools into a FEEL Collaborative Creativity Toolkit (link)that you can download for free.

It’s that simple. Now, get creative, we know you’ll feel better.

Science tells us that small acts of creativity done regularly can boost our positive mood and increase overall feelings of wellbeing. However, we often tell ourselves that we’re not creative types. Okay, not everyone was meant to be a world-famous artist or musical celebrity, but we all have the opportunity to use creativity in our everyday lives to make room for a little bit of fun, inventiveness and play.

Do you remember that time when a teacher or a well-meaning relative, told you that you couldn’t sing, dance, draw, paint or act? I do. I had my creativity crushed when I asked my mother could I learn ballet? She laughed at me and said “I don’t think you’re the ballerina type darling”. Instead she enrolled me in tap dancing classes. I remember going to those classes and feeling so uncomfortable and out of place. What a deflating experience and definitely something I’d prefer to forget. That took me quite a few years to get over. But I eventually rekindled my relationship with creativity.

On reflection, there were lots of activities that my parents enrolled me in that actually stifled my creative genius. I remember going to piano lessons, sewing classes, girl guides and church activities. But I was never allowed to participate in art classes or theatre. Perhaps my parents failed to see those activities as being of value in the ‘real world’. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. It is often said that creativity is innate and if you’re not born with artistic abilities, you’ll never have any talent. Too often we believe that about ourselves.

On the flip side, there is an almost mythical belief that creativity goes hand in hand with madness; think of Vincent Van Gogh or Sylvia Plath, for example. Van Gogh’s genius as a painter is now well known, and Plath’s brilliance as a poet and writer is universally acknowledged. But in the popular imagination they are both linked with depression, mental illness and suicide.

The idea that talent is something we’re born with and that the dark side of creative genius is poor mental health has set up an apparent duality in which creativity is associated with genetic luck and/or poor mental health. As mental health expert Tony Gillam has written, this myth works to inhibit most of us from ever exploring our creativity. In effect we are shutting down half of our brain and limiting our personality.

If the connection between mental illness and creativity is a myth…by contrast there is growing evidence that participation in artistic and creative activity may be beneficial for mental health.

Tony Gillam,
Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice (Palgrave 2018, p.36)

It’s now time to change our thinking: we have to recognise the benefits of exploring our own creativity. Everybody can be creative, all it takes is imagination and will. Creativity is also really good for us. We know from hundreds of scientific research papers that being engaged in something creative – even something as simple as listening to music – is good for our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. There’s even a research project at the University of Canberra that is using play as a therapy for seniors to help keep them active and engaged because the evidence tells us that happy people live healthier lives.

You can imagine then just how much more powerful creativity can be when we are involved in our own forms of making. We get a sense of personal control when we are able to make things with our hands and imagination. This sense of control can, in turn, contribute towards our sense of happiness and our quality of life.

We should all be thinking about our creativity as a form of play. We know how carefree young children seem to be when engaged in creative, imaginative play. By reintroducing a bit of conscious creativity into our lives we can start to regain that feeling and allow it to help us overcome the day-to-day stress of our busy lives. Psychologists know that there is a strong positive correlation between expressing our creativity and positive mental health.

How do we become more creative?

For individuals, creativity can be defined as an ability to develop new patterns of thought or ideas that can find expression in the physical world. The idea has to be “novel” – that is new – and it has to have some form of existence outside of our mind. In a social or work-related context, creativity is linked to productivity, originality, innovation, problem-solving and usefulness.

We can also talk about creativity in terms of “big C” creative and “little c” creative and this is a useful idea so that we’re not overwhelmed by thinking that to be creative we have to write a brilliant novel, design and award-winning product, or paint like Rembrandt. Creativity with a capital “C” is important but we have to remember that for most famous creatives, their success comes after a lifetime of hard work, several failures and a single-minded focus on their idea. The world needs people like that; of course it does. But not everybody needs to be a world-famous author or architect in order to express themselves creatively.

This is where the little “c” creativity comes in. Small “c” creativity is the creativity of everyday people and it is expressed in daily problem-solving, story-telling, in dabbling with pastels, making a scrapbook, or tinkering on the piano. Making time in your life for a little bit of personal creativity is not only rewarding and fun, it helps to keep your mind active and it is stress-relieving.

Now comes the contradiction; creativity requires both work and play (Gillam, p.20). In order to be more creative, we have to possess “the creative state of mind” (Gillam, p.23). But don’t despair if you don’t think you already have this state of mind’ Tony Gillam is adamant that, under the right conditions, we can discover our own creativity. In other words, if we know where to look, and we have a few easily acquired skills, we can develop our own creative streak and have some fun along the way. If we strengthen our brain muscle with some simple creativity-building exercises, we will find our creative side and build our self-confidence as we go.

The first step in discovering our own creativity is to let go of the negative thoughts such as,  “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” these thoughts can hold us back and prevent us from discovering our creative potential. Overcoming our own self-doubt begins with embracing the idea that creativity is something we learn, not something innate or only available to special people. Tony Gilllam recommends that we make creativity part of our everyday lives using some simple techniques to help us think, feel and enjoy the pleasure of playful creation. We have pit together some techniques, suggestions and tools into a FEEL Collaborative Creativity Toolkit (link)that you can download for free.

It’s that simple. Now, get creative, we know you’ll feel better.

Science tells us that small acts of creativity done regularly can boost our positive mood and increase overall feelings of wellbeing. However, we often tell ourselves that we’re not creative types. Okay, not everyone was meant to be a world-famous artist or musical celebrity, but we all have the opportunity to use creativity in our everyday lives to make room for a little bit of fun, inventiveness and play.

Do you remember that time when a teacher or a well-meaning relative, told you that you couldn’t sing, dance, draw, paint or act? I do. I had my creativity crushed when I asked my mother could I learn ballet? She laughed at me and said “I don’t think you’re the ballerina type darling”. Instead she enrolled me in tap dancing classes. I remember going to those classes and feeling so uncomfortable and out of place. What a deflating experience and definitely something I’d prefer to forget. That took me quite a few years to get over. But I eventually rekindled my relationship with creativity.

On reflection, there were lots of activities that my parents enrolled me in that actually stifled my creative genius. I remember going to piano lessons, sewing classes, girl guides and church activities. But I was never allowed to participate in art classes or theatre. Perhaps my parents failed to see those activities as being of value in the ‘real world’. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. It is often said that creativity is innate and if you’re not born with artistic abilities, you’ll never have any talent. Too often we believe that about ourselves.

On the flip side, there is an almost mythical belief that creativity goes hand in hand with madness; think of Vincent Van Gogh or Sylvia Plath, for example. Van Gogh’s genius as a painter is now well known, and Plath’s brilliance as a poet and writer is universally acknowledged. But in the popular imagination they are both linked with depression, mental illness and suicide.

The idea that talent is something we’re born with and that the dark side of creative genius is poor mental health has set up an apparent duality in which creativity is associated with genetic luck and/or poor mental health. As mental health expert Tony Gillam has written, this myth works to inhibit most of us from ever exploring our creativity. In effect we are shutting down half of our brain and limiting our personality.

If the connection between mental illness and creativity is a myth…by contrast there is growing evidence that participation in artistic and creative activity may be beneficial for mental health.

Tony Gillam,
Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice (Palgrave 2018, p.36)

It’s now time to change our thinking: we have to recognise the benefits of exploring our own creativity. Everybody can be creative, all it takes is imagination and will. Creativity is also really good for us. We know from hundreds of scientific research papers that being engaged in something creative – even something as simple as listening to music – is good for our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. There’s even a research project at the University of Canberra that is using play as a therapy for seniors to help keep them active and engaged because the evidence tells us that happy people live healthier lives.

You can imagine then just how much more powerful creativity can be when we are involved in our own forms of making. We get a sense of personal control when we are able to make things with our hands and imagination. This sense of control can, in turn, contribute towards our sense of happiness and our quality of life.

We should all be thinking about our creativity as a form of play. We know how carefree young children seem to be when engaged in creative, imaginative play. By reintroducing a bit of conscious creativity into our lives we can start to regain that feeling and allow it to help us overcome the day-to-day stress of our busy lives. Psychologists know that there is a strong positive correlation between expressing our creativity and positive mental health.

How do we become more creative?

For individuals, creativity can be defined as an ability to develop new patterns of thought or ideas that can find expression in the physical world. The idea has to be “novel” – that is new – and it has to have some form of existence outside of our mind. In a social or work-related context, creativity is linked to productivity, originality, innovation, problem-solving and usefulness.

We can also talk about creativity in terms of “big C” creative and “little c” creative and this is a useful idea so that we’re not overwhelmed by thinking that to be creative we have to write a brilliant novel, design and award-winning product, or paint like Rembrandt. Creativity with a capital “C” is important but we have to remember that for most famous creatives, their success comes after a lifetime of hard work, several failures and a single-minded focus on their idea. The world needs people like that; of course it does. But not everybody needs to be a world-famous author or architect in order to express themselves creatively.

This is where the little “c” creativity comes in. Small “c” creativity is the creativity of everyday people and it is expressed in daily problem-solving, story-telling, in dabbling with pastels, making a scrapbook, or tinkering on the piano. Making time in your life for a little bit of personal creativity is not only rewarding and fun, it helps to keep your mind active and it is stress-relieving.

Now comes the contradiction; creativity requires both work and play (Gillam, p.20). In order to be more creative, we have to possess “the creative state of mind” (Gillam, p.23). But don’t despair if you don’t think you already have this state of mind’ Tony Gillam is adamant that, under the right conditions, we can discover our own creativity. In other words, if we know where to look, and we have a few easily acquired skills, we can develop our own creative streak and have some fun along the way. If we strengthen our brain muscle with some simple creativity-building exercises, we will find our creative side and build our self-confidence as we go.

The first step in discovering our own creativity is to let go of the negative thoughts such as,  “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” these thoughts can hold us back and prevent us from discovering our creative potential. Overcoming our own self-doubt begins with embracing the idea that creativity is something we learn, not something innate or only available to special people. Tony Gilllam recommends that we make creativity part of our everyday lives using some simple techniques to help us think, feel and enjoy the pleasure of playful creation. We have pit together some techniques, suggestions and tools into a FEEL Collaborative Creativity Toolkit (link)that you can download for free.

It’s that simple. Now, get creative, we know you’ll feel better.

Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones – Bruce Garrabrandt


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