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On Creativity: A Wellness PerspectiveWe've all heard the term "let your creative juices flow," but I wonder how many of us have ever considered the implications of not letting your creative juices flow.
by Mallory Hubl, Wellness Coordinator CIP Berkeley
For me, the first word that comes to mind is stagnant.
As a wellness coach working with young adults with learning differences, I like to explain to our students to approach creativity in the same way they would with physical and mental/emotional health: In order to allow your creative juices to flow, you must put in the work that nourishes those juices.
Nobody ever trained for a 5k by sitting on the couch and binge-watching Game of Thrones, or lowered their cholesterol with a fast food diet. Nobody achieved an optimistic outlook by ruminating on negative thoughts and emotions. Guess what -- your creative health is no different.
Perhaps we can take note from a world-renowned creative: choreographer Twyla Tharp, who writes in her 2003 book The Creative Habit, "After so many years, I've learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. That's why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves."
Just as a happy person regularly puts their life's events into the bigger perspective, in order to create we must make it a habit -- otherwise our creativity stagnates.
Humans are creative creatures, and creativity can be applied to so many different facets of life -- from Mozart (and music) to Thoreau (and writing), to the Wright Brothers (and aviation), even Alexander Graham Bell (and inventions). We are all born with the creative juice within us.
As a member of the CIP wellness staff, creativity means developing a rock solid curriculum that includes fun exercise protocols and thought-provoking discussions. I develop my craft by putting in the work with consistency, otherwise it would be a disservice to the students I serve. In truth, here at CIP, we must always be thinking creatively in order to solve the day-to-day issues that arise when working with students on the autism spectrum and with learning differences.
Although not every person will have a career that requires full-time creativity, the benefits are universal. Think of what is happening when we pursue creative habits:
Creativity is so valuable. As an act of self-care, it supports personal development and well-being. As work to share, it can contribute to community, culture, even society at large. Support creativity. Enable others to create. Let your creative juices flow.
- Directing and sustaining attention - Thanks to the neuroplasticity of the mind, this actually improves overall concentration and cognition. On the level of the nervous system, our relaxation response is triggered, improving vitality and lowering stress hormones in the body.
- Building a positive identity - A sense of belonging to a tribe of like-minded (or at least like-interested) people is not always easy to come by, yet this is exactly what happens when a creative can identify with others for their shared craft.
- Failing - Not every painting is going to be a masterpiece, but becoming familiar and even comfortable with the feeling of failure will make us heartier in the presence of future failures. What's more, this naturally generalizes to include other contexts.
- Succeeding - When we commit to creativity we discover that there are more ways to succeed than we can imagine, despite our imperfections and perceived shortcomings. In a world where there is someone better at just about anything we could possibly do, focusing on creativity means our work is outside the realm of comparison, the act itself is an accomplishment.
About the Author:
Mallory Hubl is the Wellness Coordinator at CIP Berkeley. She has a BA from Arizona State University and dual graduate degrees from Syracuse University in Upstate New York.
About College Internship Program (CIP): CIPis one of the most comprehensive programs in the world for assisting young adults with learning differences to succeed in college, employment, and independent living. CIP's mission is to inspire independence and expand the foundation on which young adults on the Autism Spectrum, with ADHD, and other Learning Differences can build happy and productive lives.
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