{flickr photo by: creativedc}

If you asked me if I was creative person, I’d hem and haw for a bit. You see as a child, I was very much the creative elf. In the midst of chaos and stress, I found solitude, peace and stability in the process of being crafty (a.k.a. being sneaky). I once, for example, made a ruckus by stringing together old soda cans and tied them to my closet. {Just in case someone tried to sneak in where they were not wanted.}

But I certainly didn’ t think I was creative. More like rebellious. I painted pink butterflies on my mom’s white walls, for example. Or nerdy. I often cross-stitched until I was cross-eyed and my hands hurt. Or sneaky. I once sat under a table and tape recorded a conversation my uncles were having while drinking beer and playing cards.

Still I didn’t think I was creative. Maybe just bored.

The word carried so much meaning. I didn’t want to pretend like I thought I was Van Gogh. And I wasn’t trying to be. I simply enjoyed the process of turning nothing into something.

I still do.

The Fear of Being Creative

But as I grew older, I started to hide behind the word. I put away my crafty tools. Told others I was anything, but creative. And even moaned and groaned whenever I was forced to do anything artsy.

And I stayed away from doing so for awhile. That’s until I started to feel a lull in my life. Writing was my passion, but I felt like it had gone stale. Starting my own blog inspired me to start creating again.

I began painting like a crazy fiend. I made necklaces and picture frames and other simple crafts here. It was liberating! Even though nobody was buying it, praising it or even seeing it, I felt sheer pleasure just from being in the moment of creating.

Why Creating Can Cause Happiness

I didn’t know there was a legitimate reason why I derived so much happiness from creating until I read Martha Beck’s latest article, “Now, Don’t Get Excited…” in O magazine. In it, Beck says:

“…while reading up on the latest research in positive psychology, I discovered a two-word instruction that reliably ushered me onto the plains of peace when I couldn’t force my brain to just ‘be still.’ Here it is: Make something. You see, creative work causes us to secrete dopamine, a hormone that can make us feel absorbed and fulfilled without feeling manic…Research indicates that we’re most creative when we’re happy and relaxed, and conversely, that we can steer our brains into this state by undertaking a creative task.”

Beck says engaging in a creativity activity, not only increases self-efficacy, not to mention a feeling of accomplishment, but wards off depression. Wahoo for that!

It’s just another excuse reason why I vow to keep creating throughout 2012. It makes life fun. It reminds me to not take myself too seriously. It teaches me to accept my mistakes and shows me that sometimes mistakes end up being beautiful, necessary and meaningful.

What compels you to create?

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