Be Creative, Boost Your Well-Being

Related imageSo says a new study:

Tamlin Conner, a researcher at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and two American researchers analyzed surveys from over 650 young adults who had filled out daily online diaries for 13 days. Among other things, the questions asked how much time they’d spent in creative endeavors each day, and about their well-being: their levels of positive emotion, negative emotion, and what the researchers called “flourishing”—an overall sense of meaning, purpose, engagement, and social connection in their lives.

To tease out what causes what, the researchers compared measures of creativity on one day to measures of well-being on the next day, and vice versa.

Results showed that people who were engaged in more creative activities than usual on one day reported increased positive emotion and flourishing the next day, while negative emotions didn’t change. However, the reverse effect did not seem to occur: People who experienced higher positive emotions on day one weren’t more involved in creative activities on day two, suggesting that everyday creativity leads to more well-being rather than the other way around.

The researchers also

found that people who were more creative on one day still experienced more flourishing and positive emotions like energy, enthusiasm, and excitement the next day (though not other positive emotions, like cheerfulness). This led Conner to conclude that engaging in small daily acts of creativity may influence overall well-being rather than simply making us feel good in the moment. But can everyone reap these benefits? Certain personality traits have been linked to creativity in the past, such as openness to experience. Yet, when Conner and her colleagues ran the analyses, they found that the benefits of engaging in creativity were similar across different personality types…Conner believes her findings suggest that people should incorporate more creativity into their week—perhaps learn to knit, take up cooking, sing in a group, paint, or play music. She also suggests tapping into creativity at work, by trying to come up with novel solutions to problems or writing creatively.