Scientific Evidence That Creativity Makes You Happier
Happiness is always an interesting subject to talk about. Not just from a philosophical and practical point of view, but also from the many different ways that each person experiences and interprets it.
And yet, psychologists are still exploring what makes us happy. And how to stay that way.
Recently psychologists took a look at happiness interacts with our every day creativity. The study, published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, found that creative tasks have an effect on well-being.
When Daily Creativity Makes You Happier
While artists and musicians sometimes get depicted as moody individuals, the study showed that those who engage in daily creativity score higher in happiness.
They found that creativity created an upward spiral of positivity. Dr. Tamlin Conner, a researcher from the study says:
…engaging in creative behavior leads to increases in wellbeing the next day, and this increased wellbeing is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day.
Not only were the participants more likely to be more energetic and outgoing the day following creative activities, but it would also spur creativity the following day.
The psychologists had over 650 university students keep a journal for about two weeks. They were instructed to record their experiences, moods, and emotions. They also filled out questionnaires.
In analyzing the data, there came two conclusions:
- Researchers saw that that positive feelings didn’t determine if participants engaged in creative activities the following day.
- However, they did find that students not only had more enthusiasm the day after creative activities, but also reported higher “flourishing”,which is connected to long term happiness and well-being.
Why Study Creativity?
Normally, we’re trying to figure out how to boost our creativity. We are trying to create something unique, come up with a novel business solution, or search for the next great idea.
But rarely do we think about how creative activities affect us. It was that question that drove the team to pursue the research. Here’s Dr. Conner:
There is growing recognition in psychology research that creativity is associated with emotional functioning.
However, most of this work focuses on how emotions benefit or hamper creativity, not whether creativity benefits or hampers emotional wellbeing.
8 Creative Activities From the Study
While everyone might have a different definition of creativity, the researchers used a pretty broad definition:
…coming up with novel or original ideas; expressing oneself in an original and useful way; or spending time doing artistic activities.
Here’s the good news. You don’t have to necessarily paint a masterpiece or sculpt an elaborate statue. Contrary to what you might expect, researchers found participants engaged in a variety of activities. Most of them involving creating something new.
Here were common activities the researchers identified (in no particular order):
- creative writing (such as poetry or short fiction)
- knitting or crochet
- graphic and digital design
- musical performance
Why Everyone Needs Creativity in Their Life
Creativity isn’t just something for musicians and artists. We should all try to incorporate creativity into our daily lives.
Not just because it can make you happier. But because creating is fun. And when we find a process or activity enjoyable it taps into our intrinsic motivation. And I think that’s why creativity makes you happier. It engages those intrinsic motivations.
Regardless of the reason, creativity has shown to have many benefits. Just add happiness to the list.