How to have a bigger, happier, more interesting life

camera creativityCreativity can take many forms.

In fact, it can take on such unusual forms that you might not recognize it as creativity at all.

But, in whatever form it takes, it’s important that it’s in your life; because we are all inherently creative beings, and we need an outlet for our creativity in order to feel more fulfilled and alive. 

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her brilliant book about the topic, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear writes: “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”

Don’t worry, this post is not about quitting your job to be a writer or artist. It is not about dedicating hours a day to a creative pursuit or hobby. Unless you want to.

It is more about recognizing the things in your life that bring out your creative side, and then making sure that you incorproate some of it into your life daily, or at least, weekly.

So what are some of the forms that creativity can take?

For me, cooking would be on that list. When I started cooking in my mid-20s, I discovered this whole realm in which I could be really creative with ingredients, combinations, amounts (something you couldn’t do with baking, my only experience with “cooking” up to that point); and you end up with something satisfying to eat: the fruit of my creative labors. I realized that what I liked about cooking is the inexactness and the room for experimentation.

For you, it could be photography, programming, building things with Legos, knitting, cake decorating, making music, singing, writing plays, doing puzzles, drawing, making YouTube videos. It could be any number of things.

There’s been periods in my teens and 20s in which fashion was my way to be creative. I would deconstruct a T-shirt and put it back together with safety pins or turn a man’s white undershirt into a tube top. At other points in my life I experimented with makeup or my hair or tried to make jewelry.

After my first long backpacking trip through Europe, I spent six months living at home and saving all the money I made as a bartender to fund my next trip to Asia. Putting together a scrapbook from my European trip was my creative outlet during that time.

munich book
My construction paper picture of Munich

When I first moved to Munich and was taking German classes in the mornings, I spent a month of afternoons working on a construction-paper memory book for my then-boyfriend, now-husband’s first Christmas gift.

In the last year, it was writing my novel and short stories.

Before that, it was dancing — taking adult modern, jazz and ballet classes for the first time in my life at nearly 40 and loving it.

Currently, designing, writing and publishing this blog has been one of my primary creative outlets.

Inspired, yet?

You can also find ways to be creative in your job. Writes Twyla Tharp in her wonderfully inspiring and practical book, The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life: “Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way.”

When I was working as a copywriter in my day job, I found I didn’t need a creative outlet outside of my job, because I got to be creative at work.

The key is to understand your relationship with creativity: Figure out what sparks your creativity, recognize patterns in your life around creativity, gauge how much creativity there is in your life, and find ways to incorporate more of it into you life if you find your life a bit lackluster.

Once I understood more about me, myself and creativity, I realized it was something I needed. Now, whenever I go through a period in my life when I feel particularly restless, stuck in a rut or unsatisfied, it’s usually because I’m not doing anything creative or am not doing enough of it.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert gives the example of a woman who started ice skating again at 40. She had competed as a child but given it up as a teenager. Today she ice skates several mornings a week because skating is a “way for her to unfold a certain beauty and transcendence within her life that she cannot seem to access in any other manner.”

You may find that regular doses of creativity can bring more harmony and happiness to your life. Or, you may find that it inspires you to do something drastic and scary, but hugely rewarding.

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