Hello everyone and welcome to the wonderful words of our guest blogger Katherine Fiona Jones. We are very fortunate to have Katherine’s incredible talent as part of our extensive expertise, her creative insight helps us all to see the world in more meaningful ways. Katherine is an artist/illustrator, and researcher. With two degrees under her belt and years of creative toil, Katherine is also a freelance writer. Today she is sharing her thoughts about wellbeing and creativity, please enjoy and share!
Katherine Fiona Jones BA Hons, MAFA
Does your definition of wellbeing included creativity? It should, and in the following few hundred words I am going to encourage you to join with others who are already see creativity as central to being their ‘best selves’. By now you should be familiar with the term ‘best self’ as the term coined by Dr. Gray (and her colleagues) to identify the space we are in when we are at our most contented, healthiest and happiest. This is the space where everything tessellates, brings us joy and where we experience a natural euphoria derived from and directed at the world around us. Being our ‘best self’ may be dictated by circumstance, and we may find ourselves feeling happy and joyful for the simple things in life. For example, we may feel elated because our barista spelt our name right on our coffee cup, other days it could be managing to catch the train on time, arriving early to work, keeping on top of household tasks and chores. We’re told not to sweat the small stuff, but it is often the small stuff that can either bring us joy or drive us from a sense of ease and coherence.
So why is identifying this important? It’s important because having a different response to the same experience is an indication of our wellbeing status. Experience is nuanced, subjective, and is a catalyst for how we are going to feel about our next encounter. Will it be a glass half full? Will it be a glass half empty? Recognising that individuals have personal reactions is key to understanding experience, and is the bedrock of qualitative research. While we acknowledge individuality, there is growing evidence to suggest that there is common ground in how creativity positively affects wellbeing.
When I say “creativity”, more often than not what springs to mind are artworks, music, crafting and other such traditional creative outputs. But, creativity is much broader than that and lurks within us all. When people identify as “not being creative”, I find myself thinking about all the ways in which they demonstrate creativity of which they are not aware. For example, creativity can be found in how we organise our lives, how we dress, how we apply makeup, and of course in how we solve problems. When faced with adversity or tricky situations, we have to think creatively in order to make something better, we have to develop new rules and ways of being because the rules we’ve been abiding by are no longer relevant. Being creative provides an opportunity for us to actually think in a different way, to change mindsets, this is because when we give ourselves permission to think without boundaries, our minds open up to more possibilities that previously imagined.
Creativity facilitates problem solving, but it is also without a doubt steeped in beauty, whimsy and wonder. Experiencing creative moments in a traditional sense can increase your sense of wellbeing because it allows your brain to imagine better things, new things, and ultimately forces you to engage in how you feel. When we engage with how we feel, we begin to examine and investigate why we feel this way, which is the first step to being able to understand how we can make ourselves feel better. When we look at artworks and listen to music, we apply our own personal narrative to what we’re experiencing. We take ourselves on a journey of empathy. Even if we do not want to feel sad, the creative process that we engage in when we experience sadness helps us understand the root cause of our own turmoil.
From cooking a delicious meal, to creating a piece of artwork all the way through to organising your home, being creative helps you express your inner workings in a mindful and meditative manner. Why is it so powerful? Because it is tangible. You begin a process and you have something to enjoy at the end of it, something that wraps up your entire experience into one neatly packaged object, that will continue to act as a gentle reminder of the process and journey you took long after you began it.
Identifying your own creative processes, reasonings and expressions will help you validate and forge a pathway back to becoming your ‘best self’. There is no failure, no right and wrong when it comes to being creative, there is no pressure. This is because the entire process of creativity requires trial and adaptation, and the pleasure found in the outcomes are entirely subjective. This is important because it allows you to examine and understand your personal expectations and objectives. Once you are aware of what these are you’ll be in a position to ask yourself if these are realistic or unrealistic and you can adjust accordingly. Practicing this process allows for you to apply it to other situations that induce stress, meaning that you are able to look at situations and re-align them with your wellbeing expectations. This ultimately means that you can operate and manage stressors in a better way because you are consistently putting yourself as the priority – something we could all do a little more of. Encourage yourself to find your own creativity and praise what you have created. Make time, make space and allow for joy in your life and you will reap your wellbeing rewards tenfold.