ave you ever felt more alive than when bringing something to life, in whatever form? Have you ever felt happier than when admiring one of your own creations—whether a child, a painting, or a gourmet meal? I sure as hell haven’t! Whatever your particular kind of fancy, it feels intrinsically damn good to give genesis to something.
In my book This Is How You BE: A Simple Guide To True Happiness, I go so far as to make the case that creativity is one of three main pillars to authentic happiness. Yet in our modern Westernized world, rather than a necessity, creativity is treated as a luxury at best, worthless hobby at worst.
This cheapening of creativity has resulted in a lot of miserable people. Why? Because, as spiritual teacher and author of The Science of Mind Ernest Holmes says, “to be spiritual is to create”—and he says this with the understanding that to be spiritually nourished is the only way to be authentically happy.
A Course in Miracles concurs, stating with authority that “unless you create you are unfulfilled.” In my experience of observing myself and the world at large, this holds profoundly true. If we are miserable, if we feel dead or dull or dumbed down, there’s a better-than-good chance that part of our misery lies in the in-expression of our truest self—of not being “plugged in” to any creative outlet.
The antonym of the word “express” is “dull.” And the fact is that if we want to stop living dull lives, we need to make creative self-expression a priority in our lives in some way. And, hey, if you’re a mathematician, don’t freak out! Let’s be clear: creativity doesn’t have to mean painting or dancing or writing novels (thought of course it can). In the words of the wise Osho, “Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach—how you look at things … Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative.”
When we create, whether it’s a sonnet or a conscious business or a better life for our children, the intrinsic reward is not comparable to anything else ever motivated by money or logic or politics. When we cannot or do not create, we feel stifled because we lack that intrinsic reward that is only accessible through creation. The relationship is direct: When we sideline creativity in our lives, we sideline true happiness.
Here are 11 quotes from wise af people who agree with me:
- “You become more divine as you become more creative. All the religions of the world have said God is the creator. I don’t know whether he is the creator or not, but one thing I know: the more creative you become, the more godly you become. When your creativity comes to a climax, when your whole life becomes creative, you live in God. So he must be the creator because people who have been creative have been closest to him.” – Osho
- “We have come to think that duty should come first. I disagree. Duty should be a by-product. Writing, the creative effort, the use of the imagination, should come first—at least, for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, light-hearted and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.” – Brenda Ueland
- “What art does is to coax us away from the mechanical and towards the miraculous. The so-called uselessness of art is a clue to its transforming power. Art is not part of the machine. Art asks us to think differently, see differently, hear differently, and ultimately to act differently, which is why art has moral force … Art makes us better people because it asks for our full humanity, and humanity is, or should be, the polar opposite of the merely mechanical. We are not part of the machine either, but we have forgotten that. Art is memory…” – Jeanette Winterson
- “The key question isn’t ‘What fosters creativity?’ But it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.” – Abraham Maslow
- “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
- “[William] Blake thought that this creative power should be kept alive in all people for all of their lives. And so do I. Why? Because it is life itself. It is the Spirit. In fact it is the only important thing about us. The rest of us is legs and stomach, materialistic cravings and fears.” – Brenda Ueland
- “Creation is your Source and your only real function.” – A Course in Miracles
- “Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity.” – Edwin Land
- “To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” – Osho
- “Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as creator but seldom see “creator” as the literal term for “artist”. I am suggesting you take the term “creator” quite literally. You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist-to-artist with the Great Creator. Accepting this concept can greatly expand your creative possibilities.”
– Julia Cameron
- “It is our nasty twentieth-century materialism that makes us feel: what is the use of writing, painting, etc., unless one has an audience or gets cash for it? Socrates and the men of the Renaissance did so much because the rewards were intrinsic, i.e., the enlargement of the soul.” – Brenda Ueland