A popular factoid (a popular piece of trivia that is actually false) is that the brain has two sides: the rational, logical left brain and the creative, emotional right brain. The human brain does have differences between the two hemispheres, but there is no evidence that there is a clear division of functions between the two. The factoid is meant to be a figurative description of the brain.
Although the factoid is medically wrong, we can still learn something from it. All of us lead very busy lives. We are overworked and have little free time and energy. Our minds are filled with facts and figures, as we have high expectations of being specialists in a given field. Our “rational” mind works in overdrive to plan our careers and schedules, while churning through data at work like a computer. On the other hand, our “creative” mind is neglected.
If you look at a child, they are avatars of creativity. They imagine entire worlds, they think outside the box and they are constantly singing and dancing and drawing. But the older we get, the more we lose this side. We lack the time to play our saxophones that we loved as a teenager. Our cameras gather dust in the bookshelf. Our notebooks yearn to be filled with poems, lyrics and stories. All because we “don’t have time”.
Creative outlets are extremely important as they provide balance. Our rational mind provides logical intelligence, but our creative mind is the source of emotional intelligence. If it is neglected, it atrophies and withers away like any muscle that is not used for a long time. We lose our ability to regulate our emotions, to empathise with one another and we forget how to be happy.
Having a creative outlet gives you a chance to enter flow state and escape the stress and dreariness that comes with modern life. It strengthens your emotional intelligence so that you become more mindful of your own emotions.
In short, it is key to enjoying a happier, more balanced life.
But even if you understand the importance, there is the practical problem of not having enough time. The solution is simple: make time for it. Why is it that we set aside time to go for a run to improve our physical health, yet we cannot spare any time to improve our mental health? Whether it be singing a song in the car during your commute, or doodling a sketch while you drink a cup of coffee, there is always time to indulge your creative side.
The best part of having a creative outlet is that it does not have to be for an audience. It can be for your own enjoyment. Even if you make mistakes because you didn’t have time to practise, no one will judge you. What is important is that you dedicate some amount of time every week so that you can get back into forming a habit. Feel free to make mistakes, to be silly and to just enjoy yourself.
If you feel more confident, you could try carefully sharing your creativity with your friends and loved ones. It may be ignored, but it may strike a chord with someone who shares your passion. You may learn about a deeper side to them and it may strengthen your connection. It might even inspire them to foster their own creative outlets. Furthermore, if someone happens to like your work and gives you positive feedback, it will fill your heart with pride and joy.
Creativity is more than just a hobby; it is a state of mind. If you feel that you lost it somewhere along the way of growing up, don’t worry. Just think back to when you were a little kid drawing with crayons and the pure bliss you experienced when you were “in the zone” with your instrument as a teen. You will realise that the creative spark still glimmers in your heart, waiting to burn brightly again.
(Image source: Puuung http://www.grafolio.com/puuung1)