Let's go!!! <--- happy colour
I’m definitely happier when I’m creating, and more creative when I’m happier. It’s a guaranteed positive self-perpetuating feedback loop!
So why does this happen? What are the drivers for this? I’m getting more and more interested in psychology lately, possibly due to the extra material I saw flying around the internet for May’s mental health awareness week, so I thought I’d blog about this today.
I am creative in a few ways. I never really excelled in art at school, but played the piano to a pretty decent standard. This isn’t creative as such, but it has the bones of it, especially when studying music and composition at 15-16 years old. And as I’ve grown into my adult self I’ve discovered other ways I am creative.
I’ve recently started a new card making company, aimed at the expat market. It’s called Everyone Loves Mail and has the beginnings of something pretty exciting as word is spreading and people from around the world are becoming interested in my services. I find it incredibly relaxing to sit down of an evening and create cards for people I love, and more often, for customers. When we work as a team, ideas fly around and it’s energising. Energy is another thing which amplifies the feedback loop; the right amount of energy leads to more good feelings.
Surrounding myself with positive people
This is an obvious way to increase happiness levels. Having positive people around you rubs off on you and makes your day a little lighter. I have changed jobs in the past because I didn’t like the negative attitudes of people I worked with, and have since found a team which are more of a smiley bunch. When these people are supportive of your creativity, you can thrive even further. I do get the chance in my day job occasionally to be visually creative, and I love days like that. I love to see an image I have created in which the colours and shape are pleasing to the eye, and when it’s clear to the client it’s tailored for them.
Being amongst other creatives
This is a more difficult thing to achieve. Having moved to Bristol recently (January 2015), I have lost a lot of the regular meet-ups with creative I have spent the last few years building. Sure, social media, blogs and phones are useful for keeping in touch, but it’s nothing compared to sitting down once a month with a well-loved group of writers – see the Towcester Writers website for such a group! I am working on building another network of local writers to share experiences, writing and ideas with, but it’s not easy. I still have to find a date I can make a meeting for Bristol writers, but when I remember the energy and positive emotions I had coming away from my previous group meetings, it spurs me on. Creativity breeds creativity, and I look forward to making more friends through it.
You probably know by now I consider myself ‘born to be a tourist’. However, fewer trips abroad are being taken and to a much more limited geographical space, due to a large portion of my family (through marriage) are living in Central America. This has led me to become more creative with day trips and long weekends away. It’s been fairly easy because I’m new to the Bristol area, but the challenge of finding interesting trips is becoming more fun as time goes on, and I love finding ways to be creative in it. Planning a one-way train trip and biking home. Building in local landmarks and sights not visited before. Working out how to get affordable accommodation. Thinking of Plan B ideas for when it rains. All this pre-trip immersion and learning about a new place could count as being creative. Besides, planning a trip is proven to make you happier – even if you don’t end up going! There is a true art in anticipation. See no. 8 on the ‘Ten scientifically proven ways to make yourself happier’ from Buffer.
Now, I’ve never been an accomplished cook. I’ve forgotten things were in the oven and burned them to an inedible carbon crisp, I’ve set fire to things, and I’ve dropped enough finished baked on the floor by pulling them out of the oven too quickly or at the wrong angle to feed a family for a few days. I’ve been known to skip sections of a well-known recipe by the heroine of cooking, Delia Smith, and I regularly miss out ingredients if it’s just not in the cupboard.
However, in this chaos of cooking (could be worse – I do clear up afterwards!), there is a freshly baked whiff of creativity. I rarely bake the same cake twice, I look harder and further for new recipes which are a little bit different (e.g. courgette cake), and I believe anything can be thrown into mini bun recipes – Malteasers, Toblerone… and they’ve (almost) all been a success. I love to experiment in the kitchen; normally this means with flavourings and spices, but for me it’s cake ingredients! There’s nothing better than nurturing a freshly baked cake out of the oven. And, bang on theme, when it’s gratefully received with encouraging noises from friends, family and colleagues who munch on my goodies, that makes me happy. So I bake more!
I’ve been serious about writing since around 2008/9 when I started to write down the beginnings of my book on internet dating. For various reasons, it’s no longer available to buy, but I feel like this was a keystone in my creative blooming. I realised there was an itch I had to scratch, and I could scratch it quite well if I put my mind to it. I’ve always written in some form or another (letters to Grandma, childhood diaries, essays through education etc.) and since I’ve allowed my platform and skills to flourish, I have become a happier person. I truly believe in writing yourself happy – a form of therapy I have self-prescribed a couple of times when I’ve been in need of some grounding or sanity in life. How better does that demonstrate the happiness/creative feedback loop?
So what can I learn from this?
It’s obvious, isn’t it? I need to bake, plan trips, write, meet more people and really push Everyone Loves Mail! Here comes happy…
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Born to be a Tourist