I’ve found that when I’m feeling creative, I’m happy. So on those days when I need a booster shot of creativity to lift my spirits, I have several go-to strategies that work especially well.
1. Visit a Local Library.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the feeling of discovery and possibility that I get from seeing all those books. While I’m there, I check out art books. These can be very expensive in book stores, so I check them out from the library for free.
2. Enjoy Beautiful Smells.
Maybe it’s the scent of a fabulous perfume (I have to admit, I’ve become a perfume nut) or the homey scent of vanilla or clean towels, but a lovely smell connects me to the present moment in a way that helps me think in new ways.
3. Jump up and down a few times.
When I behave in an energetic, childlike way, I see the world differently.
4. Wander through a shop.
I dislike shopping, but sometimes I enjoy going into a well-designed store. One woman told me about her ingenious way of giving herself a creative lift: Whenever she goes to a museum, she buys postcards of her favorite artwork and places them in a basket in her hallway. Every week or so, she pulls out a handful and places them in her car. When she’s stuck in traffic, she enjoys one while she’s waiting.
5. Creative “Bootcamp”
Other people I’ve talked to put themselves into a creativity “boot camp,” like finishing a scrapbook in a weekend, trying a new recipe every day for a week or spending an afternoon rearranging furniture. The intensity of doing something that requires you to think creatively in a short period of time helps stoke your creative fires. (And, if your family’s willing, have them join you for your creativity boot camp—a creative family is a happy family.)
If you’re having trouble thinking of something creative to do, ask yourself: “What activities did I love when I was a child?” If you enjoyed something then, chances are, you’ll probably enjoy a version of it now. One friend loved to color, so one day, she bought a coloring book and a set of markers. Now she gains so much happiness from coloring.
Or you may discover a new creative outlet through a class. Whether it’s learning how to play an instrument, taking great photos or painting, when you take a class, you’ll gain skills, meet people who share your interest and be held accountable for making progress.
As an adult, it’s easy to think you’re not creative. But, trust me, finding ways to bring creativity into your life will boost your happiness. Because when you think in creative ways, you’re having fun, being intellectually stimulated, feeling satisfied—your overall quality of life improves.
Gretchen Rubin is the bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, and is currently working on her latest book, scheduled for release in 2015. She is considered one of the most influential writers on happiness today, and has become an in-demand speaker and keynoter. You can read about Gretchen's adventures and habits on her blog at GretchenRubin.com.