“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life.” — Sophia Loren
According to scientific research, creativity and the ability to think on our feet is what helped us survive and evolve into the organisms we are today. The topic is analyzed in great detail by Steven Mithen in his book, “Creativity in Human Evolution and Prehistory.” Creativity and pushing the mind to understand and convey thoughts led to language. Creativity is what kept our species alive and helped us reach new evolutionary heights.
With everything our creative minds can produce, why does society pressure us to pursue one thing or one focus of creativity? Why can’t we create just to create or learn new things simply to learn new things? At what point did we decide we need to master every skill we decide to adopt? Why are we looked down upon if we lose interest in the things we’ve found a creative outlet in doing in the past?
If it drives you, do it
Creative outlets have driven me throughout my life. From guitar to skateboarding, to cooking, to brewing, to writing, and everything in between. I have found joy in the creative process. At times, I have dedicated very large portions of my time to each because I needed to know I could do it. It was an internal competition, where I forced myself to evolve.
The drive to continue creating is a driving force for personal growth. With that in mind, the more diverse we make our creative outlets, the more unique the things we create are. Blending a handful of different skills helps us think outside the box. I find myself regularly using many of my developed skills, not only with new creative outlets but in everyday life.
Creativity negates stagnancy
If we are creating, we are thinking. When we’re thinking, we are less likely to become stagnant. Physical and mental stagnancy has been found to lead to early death. When we allow our minds and bodies to stagnate, they begin to break down.
Think of it as an old car that’s been sitting. The longer it goes without use, the more viscous the oil gets. The lubricants of every system begin to lose their effectiveness. Then, when you go to start it, everything locks up. However, if you start it regularly instead of just letting it sit, the systems retain their ability to work properly. I think of creativity as the lubricant for the body, beginning with the brain. If it gets used regularly, the whole system maintains its function longer.
Creativity leads to longevity by reducing stress
In a study done in 2012, researchers found that “…creative thinking reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy.” With the brain being the driver of everything we do, it makes sense to keep it healthy. Creativity was shown to help individuals overcome stress and to correlate with a lengthened life span.
Stress has been linked to a variety of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and a reduced immune system. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences posted this study about the effects of stress on the body. When we are able to limit stress, we add years to our life.
If it doesn’t drive you anymore, stop
Creativity can enter our lives through a variety of outlets and can also exit just as easily. There’s no reason to keep doing something simply because you’ve been doing it a while. If you don’t get the same benefits from it, stop. We have a limited amount of time and should use it doing the things that bring us joy, provide us with mental stimulation, and force us to continue to evolve.
Create, evolve, rinse, repeat
Creativity is something that is deep-seated in our evolutionary history but somewhere we lost sight of its importance. Science can help us change our minds. Focusing on a single creative outlet can bottleneck our thoughts, so we should explore as many creative possibilities as possible. Continuing to create allows us to continue to evolve. It allows us to deal with stress better than others; it teaches us to be open with others, and we should accept it and nurture our creativity whenever possible. What are some ways creativity has influenced your life?
A version of this post was previously published on GoFindYourHappy and is republished here with permission from the author.
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