Friday, August 2, 2013

Feeling Good: Creativity and Mental Health

I recently said I had the idea to create a sort of series from of the "Feeling Good" title of a previous entry. I still like the idea, but I don't know exactly where I'm going with it. No matter -- I'm sure it'll reveal itself. In the meantime, I'd like to take the series into "part 2" with a discussion of creativity.

The late American author Kurt Vonnegut said, "To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So go do it."

That's one of those quotes that makes you feel good when you first read it. To revisit it, however, is to likely feel some uncertainty. Okay, it sounds good, but what does it mean?

The way I see it, artistic, or creative, endeavors are those activities that allow us to express ourselves in a vital way.

For example, I use language. I see it as as a vehicle by which I can express myself in ways that serve my needs at the moment. Writing can give me relief from relentless mind-chatter; a conversation can help me open my eyes to a new perspective, and get me "un-stuck" from old, unhelpful beliefs; and I can use my words to share my ideas with others. I can also -- imagine that! -- have fun with it.

(the author, caught in a moment of feverish note-taking)

To me, then, creativity is an activity that can mean many different things, depending on the time and the person. Some people focus on one creative form, while others dabble in several. Regardless, there is no right or wrong: it's deeply personal, and you get to decide for yourself.

In my opinion, there is great value in expressing the content of our hearts, minds, and souls; and whether that content be deeply personal, or silly, shallow, and topical, is quite beside the point. It is the practice that Vonnegut referred to that can encourage peace, self-knowledge, and acceptance.