In the late-80s TV series MacGyver, the title character is a genius who is employed by a government agency. What he is best known for is getting himself and the people around him out of various dangerous situations using a random assortment of objects, like paper clips, duct tape, chewing gum, and shoelaces. In these scenarios, creative thinking literally saved lives. While it may not help you escape from literal life-or-death situations, creativity can save your life, too.
How creativity can save your life
Creativity can take your life from empty to full, from meaningless to profound, from aimless wandering to deep discovery. It can turn fear into love, enemies to friends, and lost causes into causes worth fighting for.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: creativity brings your life to life.
Here’s why that can save your life.
It keeps you healthy.
We don’t often think of creativity as being tied to physical health, but maybe we should. Studies show that some creative activities, including journaling and listening to music, can benefit your immune system, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, relieve pain, and more.
But the best example of creativity benefiting physical health might be dance. Dancing can be used for creative expression, and it can also help people lose or manage weight, lower fatigue, and improve mobility.
Creativity can impact other ways you take care of yourself, too. Because creativity is correlated with higher self-esteem, being creative makes it more likely that you take care of yourself. And it can help you establish better routines for exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep. Putting a creative spin on these routines will help you individualize and internalize them more, increasing your chances for success.
It keeps you happy (and sane).
I love the implications of the above quote. It says that the very model of mental health isn’t just being a “normal,” happy person, but a creative one.
To me, this means that creativity is the best route to reaching your most ideal self—the highest, happiest, most complete and whole version of you. You can be “normal” and float through life just fine, but to be your best self, you need creativity.
When you think about everything creativity can do for your happiness, it makes sense. Creativity:
- Lowers stress and anxiety
- Boosts self-esteem
- Contributes to an “upward spiral of positive emotions”
- Improves mood
- Makes you feel like life is rewarding
- Combats depression and sadness
- Adds positivity to your life
- Increases overall feelings of wellbeing
- Helps sharpen your mind by helping you think in new ways
Each of these benefits of creativity has been researched or observed. It all adds up to this: more creativity, more happiness. So how does this save your life?
Aside from possibly preventing the potentially devastating consequences of mental health disorders (self-harm, suicide, etc.), creativity’s positive impact on your happiness can help you lead a more joyful life. You don’t have to simply go through the motions of life—you can find joy and meaning. The happiness of creativity saves you from living a life you despise. And that is priceless.
(If you or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or text HOME to 741741. Help is within reach.)
It keeps you connected.
Whether we like it or not, connection is vital to human life. It is connection that allows us to experience love, understanding, peace, and purpose. By keeping you connected, creativity helps save your life.
Creativity connects you to:
Yourself. Creative thinking allows you to get to know yourself on a deeper, more profound level. When you create, you become more intimately familiar with your hopes, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and everything in between. You come to know who you really are and what your purpose is in the world—and that is a key step toward fulfilling that purpose.
Other people. We need other people. Not only do relationships help us feel less alone, they also teach us important lessons, help us think outside ourselves, and allow us to explore new emotions in new ways. Creativity encourages collaboration, empathy, and relatability, all of which help contribute to relationships.
The world. Creative thinking pulls you out of your comfort zone. It allows you to see and experience perspectives other than your own, so you can see and solve problems that will serve the world as a whole. It encourages you to contribute to the world in powerful ways, and makes you feel like a part of something bigger than yourself.
Without these connections, your life cannot be what you want it to be.
It may sound dramatic to say that creativity can save your life, but I truly believe it can. By keeping you healthy, happy, and connected, creativity provides what you need to make your life a life you love. So stop thinking of creativity as an option and see it for the necessity that it is.
Upgrade your creativity. Change your life.
Learn how to personally apply creative thinking to your life so you can discover more happiness and meaning. Start by taking our free assessment today!