Is There a Link Between Creativity and Happiness? Why Creativity Makes You Happier

What makes you happy? What could transform your sad frown into a happy smile? Is it having material possessions? Your relationships? Your achievements? Perhaps. But how about working in some creativity in your everyday life? Experts say there is a link between creativity and happiness.

An article from Huffington Post cited a recent New Zealand study which says that “engaging in creative activities contributes to an “upward spiral” of positive emotions, psychological well-being, and feelings of “flourishing” in life.”

Similarly, the Pacific Standard Magazine cited a study conducted at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro on college students, and it says that “those who reported feeling happy and active were more likely to be doing something creative at the time.”

coloring book link between creativity and happinessNow, when we talk about “creativity” here, we are not only referring to professionals who work in the creative industry. According to Carolyn Gregoire of Huffington Post, “Anyone who finds time for creative hobbies and side projects like writing in a journal, sketching, crafting or playing the ukulele is likely to experience the same effect.”

And what’s more, you don’t have to be a poet, singer, dancer, writer, painter, or composer to be considered creative. Anyone can be creative in their own right.

Tom Jacob of Pacific Standard Magazine says, “You don’t have to be a master poet or painter to reap the emotional rewards. Even if the results of one’s creative activity are “frivolous, amateurish or weird, the creative process that yielded them appears important to positive psychological development.”

So, really, it doesn’t matter if your creativity means cooking something new for dinner, redecorating your bedroom, or coming up with a good idea to entertain the kids. What matters is that you’re doing something creative.

Shana Lebowitz of Greatist writes:

“There’s no concrete definition of creativity … but most experts agree it’s got something to do with the ability to come up with new ideas, new links between ideas, and novel solutions to problems (with or without destroying a pack of Crayolas).

frida kahlo link between creativity and happinessNow, you might ask: Is there a link between creativity and happiness? If so, why do some creative people appear to be so lonely while doing something they love?

Take painters, for example. Why do they seem so tortured?

Well, Frida Kahlo, the famous Mexican painter has an answer to that:

“I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint.”

This was her statement when she finished her painting called “My Birth”. This painting was an outcome of her bout with numerous miscarriages, the death of her mother, enduring polio, and having almost died from a car accident.

How Exactly Can Creativity Increase Happiness?

Now, let’s dig deeper – how can we say that there is a relationship between creativity and happiness? How exactly can creativity increase happiness?

Here are a couple of quotes from some sources that can perhaps better explain:

“Engaging in creative pursuits allows people to explore their identities, form new relationships, cultivate competence, and reflect critically on the world. In turn, the new knowledge, self-insight, and relationships serve as sources of strength and resilience.” – Pacific Standard Magazine

“The link between creativity and better mental and physical health is well established by research. Creating helps make people happier, less anxious, more resilient and better equipped to problem-solve in the face of hardship.” – Amanda Enayati, CNN

Now that we know there is a relationship between creativity and happiness, let’s explore what the health benefits of creativity are and how it will make us happier:

What is the importance of creativity in everyday life?

girl guitar link between creativity and happinesIt’s simple. Because trying to be creative each day helps us maintain a healthy lifestyle. It helps us in our journey to wellness.

Here are five health benefits of creativity that will help us become happier humans:

1. Creativity helps us focus on the moment and distracts us from worry

There is this concept called “flow” which was coined by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Basically, it is a mental state in which a person doing an activity that is potentially rewarding would be fully immersed in a feeling of “energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment” while doing that activity.

According to an article on Healthy Psych Magazine, becoming completely immersed can mean “losing a sense of how much time has passed, and even forgetting about being hungry or tired.” Further, it says that when we are in a state of “flow”, even if there are challenges in our environment, we won’t get overwhelmed or bored.

A creative activity helps us enter this mental state of “flow”.

2. Creativity helps us express and process emotionsemotions link between creativity and happiness

Research says that people who have been suffering from illnesses for a long time tend to express themselves and how they feel about their illnesses if they are doing something creative. Through this, they can also share their life story with others. Through sharing their experiences, they will be able to feel physically better and perhaps happier about their situation.

Another research, cited in Healthy Psych Magazine, found out that art can also help us to “process the emotions we are feeling, increase our self-awareness, and change the way we think about ourselves and the world around us.”

3. Creativity creates a healthy state of mind

Studies say that being involved in creative activities will help you keep anxiety and depression at bay. According to an article from Huffington Post, neuroscientists have been studying several forms of creative activities through the years … and what did they find out? Activities like cooking, drawing photography, art, music, cake decorating, and yes, even doing crossword puzzles all have health benefits.

“When we are being creative, our brains release dopamine, which is a natural anti-depressant. Creativity usually takes concentration and it can lead to the feeling of a natural high. Participating in creative activities may even help to alleviate depression.” -Huffington Post

4. Creativity gives us a sense of purpose

According to Psychology Today, having a sense of purpose is very important to an individual to have a fulfilling life. In fact, “the need for purpose is one of the defining characteristics of human beings.” Purpose is something we crave for every day, and if we don’t have it, we suffer serious psychological difficulties.

Tony Wagner, author of “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World” says in a CNN article, “Imagining and creating give us a sense of purpose. If you lack those things, a pervasive sense of emptiness becomes the default.”

5. It feels good to be creativefeeling good link between creativity and happiness

When you’re being creative, it means you’re doing something out of your own passion. You’re not doing something because you need to or you’re forced to. You’re doing it because you love doing it. Period.

And what’s a happier thing than being able to do what you really want to do? Even if you make mistakes, if you are doing something you love, it doesn’t really matter.

Creativity and Happiness: Is There A Connection?

There is definitely a relationship between creativity and happiness – and this has been mentioned in a CNN article:

“The link between creativity and better mental and physical health is well established by research. Creating helps make people happier, less anxious, more resilient and better equipped to problem-solve in the face of hardship.”

If you want to learn more about the link between creativity and happiness and how you can utilize tools and techniques to help yourself be a happier you, we invite you to join our Manufacturing Happiness Class taught by Dr. Gala Gorman at our Hilton Head location. If you want to join our next class, you can register here.

About the author

Dr. Gala Gorman is a licensed Acupuncturist, Naturopath, and Author who offers expert advice and programs to help people prevent disease. She uses advanced techniques that "reverse the clock" on aging. She founded the Delta Discovery Center with her partner, Charlie Frangos, to provide a place for self-discovery and healing on Hilton Head Island and beyond. Dr. Gala helps people learn to be their own health advocates.