House made of match sticks

Pushing your body, mind, and heart to their limits creates a cathartic ‘clearing,’ a ‘centring’ effect in your being, in your soul. It makes you sweat, feel, and think. If you can find something that brings you there, use it. It will bring to your day a richness of experience and a fullness of self.” These are the words of Bruce Springsteen in the preface to our book, The Creativity Cure: A Do-It-Yourself Prescription for Happiness. We couldn’t have said it better.

What does creativity have to do with happiness, you might wonder.
A lot! And certainly much more than we realise.

In this technological age, the importance of creativity cannot be overemphasised. Think about it. We once had to employ creative thinking and behaviour just to meet basic needs such as food and shelter. Now, in our solve-it-with-a click culture, sweep your cursor and answers appear. Great! But then again, not so great. Quick-fix solutions can rob us of processes that foster wellbeing and happiness.

Necessity is the mother of invention but today much of what we need is ready-made and available for purchase. So we sacrifice the pride and vitality that come with our own inventions and settle for what’s available. Without an explorative process, sources for joy disappear, even if we cling to the notion that happiness is all about the outcome. In the words of writer Anne Lamott, “While you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony.”

It's a primal need

By foregoing experiences that exercise our potential, the rich aspects of existence fritter away. Remember the time you said, “Look Ma, I made it myself!” This sure-fire source of happiness serves not only kids but also adults. It’s primal. It’s enlivening. We need it! So, it is important to hold fast to this way of feeling alive. Creating things, making things happen and cerebral, creative and physical journeys improve our wellbeing.

Happiness has much more to do with exploration rather than reaching the end point. Many great thinkers, poets and philosophers—from Samuel Johnson to William Wordsworth to Boethius in 560 AD—have cited this truth of the human condition.

In short, as much as we think we crave the sit-down-and-surf situation, it is ‘getting up and going’, ‘making and doing’ that feels good.

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A version of this article was first published in the May 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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