Using Your “Creativity Muscle”
Helps You Live Long and Happy
In the new year, I challenge you to regularly exercise…but not just in the traditional sense. I also want you to exercise your creativity.
Try something outrageous. Build. Play. Make
And when I say “creativity,” I’m not
referring to “artistry.” When most people think
of creativity, they envision painters, musicians,
illustrators, etc. But this ability is equally
necessary in any line of work.
What it really boils down to is the ability to
solve a problem or present a perspective in an
original way. Creativity presents something
that—when in the right setting—is novel,
relevant, useful, or influential.
So really, everyone is creative in their own
And there’s plenty of research that supports the
importance of creativity, especially when it comes
to your health.
The physical benefits of exercising your creative
In 2012 study published in the Journal of Aging
and Health, researchers observed 1,400 older male
military veterans. They found that creativity
decreased mortality rate by 12 percent.
Interestingly, creativity was also a much more
significant predictor of longevity than other
personal traits like intelligence or
The lead study author, Nicholas Turiano, theorizes
that this is due to the fact that creativity
exercises specific brain networks, even well into
old age. Parts of the brain like:
Non-verbal memory: Your ability to store and
recover information about things like faces,
sounds, songs, smells, and feelings
Executive processes: Your working memory, mental
flexibility, and self-control
Turiano also noted, “Keeping the brain healthy
may be one of the most important aspects of aging
successfully—a fact shown by creative persons
living longer in our study.”
But the benefits of creativity go beyond brain
health. The researchers also found that
creative-minded people are able to process stress
in a healthy way. And as we all know, stress is
perhaps one of the most dangerous health hazards,
especially for our cognitive, cardiovascular, and
The mental benefits of creating
The practice of being creative offers emotional and
mental benefits as well.
For instance, in a 2010 review published in
the American Journal of Public Health, researchers
analyzed more than 100 studies on the impact of art
in relation to health and healing.
The studies examined the effects of engaging in a
variety of creative arts including music, writing,
dance, and visual arts (painting, drawing,
photography, pottery, and textiles). And each study
involved more than 30 patients battling chronic
illness and cancer.
The researchers described the impact these creative
endeavors had on the patients:
“Improved well-being by decreasing negative
emotions and increasing positive ones”
“Improved medical outcomes, trends toward reduced
“Reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in
“Improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression
of grief, positive identity, and social networks”
And I can certainly vouch for these benefits
Why I make the time
Over the years, I’ve experienced first-hand the
benefits of carving out time for creativity.
I aim to set aside at least three to five hours a
week strictly to create. Occasionally, I’ll
invite my family, friends, or bandmates to create
with me. But I’ve found that no matter who I’m
with, or what I’m working on, this time for
creation has become deeply important to my health
That’s because when I choose to create something,
I invest time and energy into something I can
control (my thoughts and actions) and away from
things I can’t (the world, people, my future).
When I’m in this “creative zone,” I sometimes
focus intently on one particular project—like
working on a new song, a poem, or a Sound
Health article (like the one you’re reading
Sometimes creating is purely for the sake of
working my brain’s creative “muscle.”
And when my creation comes to fruition (and if I
choose to share it with others), I “release it”
out into the world.
Maybe people like it, maybe not. And that’s okay.
Once I “let it go”, I can’t control what
Instead, I’m content with the fact that I’ve
added another piece of my soul to my life’s work.
And what excites me even more? I get to start all
over on something else next! Creating is full of
Getting your creative juices flowing
The one thing I know for sure is this: A creative
idea won’t ever come to fruition until you give
it regular attention.
So are you ready to start creating something great?
Dr. Robert Epstein, a researcher at the University
of California, San Diego, recently discovered that
if you make a habit of strengthening four core
skill sets, your creativity will thrive. Get your
creative juices flowing by regularly practicing the
Record new ideas. Capture them any way you want.
Keep a small notebook with you, use the voice memo
app on your smart phone, keep a document on your
computer, or even write them down on a napkin.
Purposely seek out challenging tasks. Take on
things that don’t necessarily have a clear-cut
solution. This will cause your brain to think
differently and formulate more brain cells.
Never stop learning. Sign up for a class, watch a
documentary, or read a book on something you’ve
always wanted to know more about. This gives you a
more expansive encyclopedia of knowledge to pull
from, which, Epstein says, “is the basis of all
Surrounding yourself with things, people, and
places that intrigue you. Draw inspiration from
museums, see a show, have dinner with friends from
diverse backgrounds, or strike up a conversation
with someone who just looks interesting.
Essentially, do something outside of your norm.
With these four steps, you should find inspiration
to create in no time.
The main takeaway for today is this: The process of
creating—no matter what you’re making—is good
for you, both mentally and physically.
Our daily routines can often get us stuck in habit
of doing the same monotonous tasks over and over.
Rarely is our brain challenged to do or learn
something completely new or out of our comfort
In today’s society—a culture of
consumption—we’re so caught up in liking
photos, watching videos, reading articles, and
sharing things. Ironically, we’ve become too busy
consuming the creations of others rather than
creating something of our very own to put out into
So this year, shake things up!
I challenge you to get creative and create! Take
your mind off of your stressors and shift your
focus toward something enjoyable that
can enrich your life (and maybe even the lives of
What are you inspired to put out into the world?
Leave a comment on our Sound Health Facebook
page. I’d love to hear what ideas you’re
Now get to creating!
Exercising your creative muscles daily builds happy sexy health in life and love,