Growing Your Creative Self by Nanette Rasband Hilton

posted Oct 19, 2017, 3:42 PM by Writing Center
While crouched under the morning sun pruning my scorched rose bed, I wondered how the plants had survived the mid-June heat.  The Vegas Valley had reached 117 degrees, setting a new record.  These temperatures, combined with the arid conditions of the Mojave Desert, may cause you to wonder how roses can even grow in such a place.  But they do.  They thrive—given enough water and sunshine. Thanks, in part, to the abundant Vegas sunshine, I have roses for both Easter and Thanksgiving table centerpieces—big blooms of rich red, bubblegum pink, sun kissed yellow and romantic lavender creating a full spectrum of color and an intoxicating scent. But I wouldn’t have them without water. 

We may, at times, feel as desolate as a desert trying to tap into our well of creativity. Those moments can be tempered with hope and perseverance by reflecting on the lesson offered by my roses. 

American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson was a great student and proponent of nature.  He said that “heaven and earth becomes part of [our] daily food….Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind….and thus the endless circulations of the divine charity nourish man.” Depression is often linked to a lack of creativity.  In the treatment of depression, sunlight and time outdoors are fundamental medicines.   A Norwegian study proved that patients’ mental health improved when they spent time gardening  and, similarly, a study done in the United Kingdom proved that “green exercise,” (physical activity done while exposed to nature) alleviates depression and stress.  Just like roses, we all need sunshine to bloom.

And when things get just too hot to bear—and they will—remember to quench your thirst!  Seriously, water is a pick-me-up.  Next time you’re feeling droopy and wishing for some inspiration, get yourself a drink of water.  WATER.  Drinking water and creativity are intricately related.  Our brain is made up of  85% water, and brain function depends on having plenty of it.  Water actually provides our brains with energy, better than any other substance, according to Dr. Corinne Allen, founder of the Advanced Learning and Development Institute.  Allen says that “When your brain is functioning on a full reserve of water, you will be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.”  While sipping, reflect (preferably while sitting outside or looking out a window).  Ask: What makes me feel refreshed? Emerson maintains that “The tradesman, the attorney comes out of the din and craft of the street and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again.  In their eternal calm, he finds himself.”  Make a date with nature a part of your daily routine. 

Our regular routines offer lots of opportunity for moments of creative genius.  Just as roses love a shower, so does your creative self.  Dr. Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist researching creativity, attributes people’s imagination to the level of dopamine in their systems. Research has proven that activities like taking a shower release dopamine, a.k.a. creative fuel, into our brains.  That’s why so many people get their best ideas in the shower.  Water really does make things bloom, even our creativity.  A relaxed state of mind is essential to being creative.  Activities like showers, listening to music, falling asleep, exercising, driving a familiar route or any other “brainless” activity can be the empty space necessary for cultivating creativity.  Albert Einstein reported getting his best ideas while pedaling his bicycle. 

Nurture your creative genius with real-life tactics like green-activities, drinking more water and prioritizing time and place for mental relaxation.  Then, expect a bountiful harvest.

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