Creativity and the Grace of Gratitude

If the only prayer you say in your whole life is “thank you”, that would suffice. - Meister Eckhart

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At its heart I see creativity as a celebration of ourselves, our lives and our world in all the myriad experiences and possibilities that come from being alive including the difficult. Creativity allows us to marvel at the gift of our lives. Lately I’ve started to see it as a way to express gratitude. And gratitude it turns out can bring all sorts of benefits to our lives.

Recently I read a research article on the proven benefits of focusing on what we are grateful for. Physically it strengthens our immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases energy and vitality and improves the quality of our sleep. Psychologically it improves overall mental health, increases our ability to handle stress and brings us more joy, optimism and life satisfaction. Socially it allows for stronger interpersonal relationships and increases our feeling of interconnectedness as well as making us more forgiving, generous and compassionate.

Gratitude also works in a mysterious spiritual sense opening the doors to support from the universe. The English word gratitude comes from the Latin root grata or gratis meaning a given gift. The word grace, meaning a gift freely given that is unearned, comes from the same root. The ideas and inspirations that flow through creative acts always feel to me like grace.

There are lots of ways to focus on gratitude. Keeping a journal where each day we make a list of a least a few things we are grateful for is a popular one. Letting the people we care about know that we appreciate them is another. We can say thank you when someone holds the door open for us. I always wave a thank you when a car stops for me when I am crossing the street. When I’m out for a walk I often say thank you to the trees or birds and feel more connected to the earth.

Then there is being creative. What in your life would you like to celebrate with gratefulness. You could dance it around the living room, draw it in chalk on the sidewalk, sing it in the shower, write a poem, plant a flower or bake a cake all with the intention of expressing gratitude. 

Being grateful opens our heart and spirit so we can actually be more receptive to the creative impulses that are swirling around us. Take a minute right now. Focus on something or someone you are grateful for. Feel yourself open and expand as you do. What do you want to create from this place.

Creativity is Essential to Your Well Being

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Creative expression is an essential part of who we are as spirit and soul, and as important to our well being as eating healthy food and getting enough exercise, sleep and sunlight. When we experience creative flow the energy of the universe moves through us, which is why it feels so good. It opens us to new possibilities and awareness which can help us in every area of our lives and in these uncertain times.

The good news is that we are already more creative than we think. There are infinite ways we engage our creative self: teaching a class, planting a garden, creative problem solving at work or in parenting, decorating our home, cooking something new, writing a poem, singing in the shower, doing photography or taking a dance class. The list goes on. To more fully embrace our creativity it helps to understand exactly what creativity is and how it works.

Our rational, linear mind isn’t particularly creative. It can only take things that it already understands and move them around into a different configuration. When we have a brilliant idea or a profound solution to a problem or a flash of inspiration, it comes from beyond the mind. It comes out of our spirit, our heart, the essence of who we are.

People who are accomplished creatives all talk about being a vessel for something greater that flows through them as the source of their work. No matter how long I have worked with my own creativity, every time I tap the flow, there is always a “wow, where did that come from” feeling. Creative people who consistently produce notable work have somehow figured out how to get the mind out of the way and invite things to flow.

To benefit from being creative we do not have to be a great artist. We have only to look to children and the fun and joy they find in playing with imagination and creating something new. We all had that once. If we believe that we have lost it, it is never too late to get it back. In my coaching I’ve work with people, who are frustrated, exhausted, or overwhelmed by life, to begin embracing creativity in even small ways. It always helps. In my own life wherever I find myself in the doldrums even writing a quick draft of a poem lifts my spirit every time.

In being creative we increase our sense of aliveness and open to possibilities our minds never considered. Our mind fears uncertainty. We will always feel a bit uncomfortable trying something new yet we will feel inspired to take action. Even after all these years I feel resistant every time I sit down to create. I’ve learned not to let this stop me. We all can.

Start now. How can you make creativity part of taking care of yourself. Play with this. Be open to the possibilities. You will be glad you did.