We often see creativity as at odds with our daily lives. After all, we’ve got serious things to focus on, and creativity is clearly an extra thing to do—which we don’t have time for.
We see creativity as discrete, unrelated tasks: Draw. Dance. Paint. Play piano. Color. Sing. Sew.
But we can use creativity to take compassionate care of ourselves. We can use creativity to meet our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. We can create rituals that honor these needs by tapping into our imagination, by rethinking our perspective.
For instance, instead of viewing exercise as boring or a punishment or a chore, we can honor our physical needs by trying all kinds of movement and taking a playful approach: You might choreograph your own dance routine (or ask your child to make up dance moves). You might place your yoga mat on your patio, and stretch your body as you watch the sun rise or set. You might buy a hula hoop or a trampoline.
To honor your emotional needs, you might spend 5 minutes every night doodling your feelings. You might spend some time creating a gratitude journal, starting with making the actual notebook, and then writing in it every morning or night. You might pen supportive letters to your future self.
To honor your mental needs, you might create a small ritual where you read a different poem a day and contemplate its significance or message for your own life. You might start hosting a monthly book club dedicated to poetry or short fiction or comic books or even children’s books (why not?). You might set up a small library, which just takes up a corner of your living room with a tiny bookcase filled with beautiful books, a comfy, cozy chair and a nightstand with your favorite lamp.
To honor your spiritual needs, you might regularly take walks in nature, and bring back a few souvenirs, such as leaves and sticks, which you put in a special vase on your dining room table. Every Sunday, you might sketch Scripture with your kids. You might simply sit on the beach, breathing in the salty air, watching the seagulls.
You also can think of your needs in other ways, such as: the need for connection or play or adventure or laughter. For instance, for play, you might start writing your own children’s book or skipping everywhere you go or playing a board game with your family. For connection, you might play charades with loved ones or have one family member jot down the opening lines of a story, and pass it to another family member, and so on until you complete the story. You also might ask each other silly or serious questions.
Identify your needs. Think about how creativity can respond to each need. Explore. Experiment. Because when you think of creativity as a way to support yourself, everything changes.
Creativity becomes a lens we use to see life through. Which means that problems have solutions—when we give our creativity free reign. Which means that we become more curious (and less critical). Which means that we uncover imaginative ways to tend to our hearts and souls. Which means that we savor more satisfaction and meaning. We have more fun. We delve deeper.
And, ultimately, we genuinely feel nourished and cared for and connected both to others and to ourselves.
How can you get creative about meeting your various needs?