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Be creative, be curious: living a full life

Lisa Armitage

How can we be creative in our life, whether or not we choose to pursue a career in the arts?

Creative living is about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”

That is one of the main ideas in the teachings of Elizabeth Gilbert – one she addresses in her book on creativity: “Big Magic.”

She writes: “Look, I don’t know what’s hidden within you.

“You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you’ve caught glimpses.

“I don’t know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents.

“But surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure.

“I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

“The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place—that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.

“The often surprising results of that hunt—that’s what I call Big Magic.”

Elizabeth Gilbert-600x400She adds, “When I talk about ‘creative living‘ here, please understand that I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts.

“When I refer to ‘creative living,’ I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”

In her book, she gives a specific example:

“One of the coolest examples of creative living that I’ve seen in recent years, for instance, came from my friend Susan, who took up figure skating when she was 40 years old.

“To be more precise, she actually already knew how to skate. She had competed in figure skating as a child, but she’d quit the sport during adolescence when it became clear she didn’t have quite enough talent to be a champion.

“For the next quarter of a century, Susan did not skate. Then she turned 40. She was restless. She felt drab and heavy. She asked herself when was the last time she’d felt truly light, joyous and—yes—creative in her own skin.

“To her shock, she realized that the last time she’d experienced such feelings had been as a teenager, back when she was still figure skating.”

Gilbert continues:

“She was appalled to discover that she had denied herself this life-affirming pursuit for so long, and she was curious to see if she still loved it.

“So she followed her curiosity. She bought a pair of skates, found a rink, hired a coach. She ignored the voice within her that told her she was being self-indulgent and preposterous to do this crazy thing.

“She tamped down her feelings of extreme self-consciousness at being the only middle-aged woman on the ice, with all those tiny, feathery nine-year-old girls.

“She just did it.”

From Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

In this short excerpt from one of the sample videos for her online course, she talks about using the idea of “curiosity” rather than “passion.”

See longer video and others on the site for Elizabeth Gilbert’s Creativity Workshop.


Be creative, be curious: living a full life

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2017). Be creative, be curious: living a full life. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Jan 2017
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