Veterinary Chris Hong
Registered Psychologist
Veterinary Chris HongVeterinary Chris Hong
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Let Your Creativity Bring You To Life (And, yes! You are creative!)

Sometimes, some people forget that they are creative. I’m not talking about singing and playing piano in front of 50,000 people creative, or winning the Archibald prize creative, or coming up with a very popular series of stories about a young wizard and his mates creative. I’m talking about the creativity that lives inside of you, even now as you read this, that you may have forgotten, or haven’t realised, that you have.

Cast your mind back a little, or a lot, to your youngest years. Do you remember tracing your hand with a crayon? Did you then use a glue stick to add some glitter and other bits? What about making lines in the sandpit or on the beach with a stick, or pretending that the top of the slide, or the cubby house, was where you had to “free the captives” from at little lunch, with your makeshift pocketknife made from tanbark, MacGyver style? What about laying on your back making animals, creatures, and other things out of the shapes of clouds? What about the games with cars, toys, figurines or whatever else was lying around the place? What about making a fort or hidden cave out of an old cardboard box or a few bedsheets? What about drawing in the fog on the window?

That’s what I’m talking about. And it is often this kind of creativity that gets looked at as being nothing, or “time wasting”, or “just kids playing”.

Sometimes when I ask people if they are creative, they are occasionally surprised by the question, as if I just asked them if they’re into crocodile wrestling. Some people say, “Oh no, not me, I don’t have a creative bone in my body”. Imagine that! A creative bone in their body. Seriously, imagine that. Imagine a little bone in your body that makes drawings on the other bones! Can you imagine that image in your mind? What is the little bone drawing? Is it making graffiti, or portraits of the other bones in fancy clothes? Is it something else? What can you see?

Whatever you imagined, you just created that little movie in your mind. That is the kind of creativity I’m talking about! That is an example of some of the creativity that is always inside of you, and at your disposal, any time you call upon it.

But, what tends to happen as we grow older, is we do away with those little acts of creativity. We get busy, and we accumulate more and more responsibility, and we hand over our time to “more important things”. School, university or TAFE or study, work, business, social events, family life… The list is literally endless if you allow it to be. And as the list grows and our responsibilities swell, our time diminishes and our creativity, like a gentle & delicate garden, begins to fall away, neglected, and uncared for. It withers. For some of us, at some point, there is no evidence that there was even a garden of creativity there in the first place.

Just as dangerously, as we become adults, we sometimes trick ourselves into thinking that our creative ventures might be silly, or a waste of time, or worse, embarrassing! Someone might think we’re bad at drawing, or being funny, or dancing. Someone might make fun of our creation. I get it, it can be really risky and vulnerable to express yourself and expose your deeper thoughts, feelings, and sentiments to the world. But the risk of never exploring those parts of you in the first place, I feel, is a fate far worse.  And besides, the purpose of connecting with your creativity is the complete opposite of that. It’s not supposed to be risky; it is supposed to bring you closer to feeling truly alive.

The things that you create are representations of you expressing yourself in a way that only you can. They are no less beautiful, valid, and important as the sun rising or a wave cresting. They are extensions of you. They are gifts that you share with yourself, and the world, if you want to. You absolutely don’t have to tell anyone or share anything about the way you use and engage with your creativity. That is your own private journey. Of course, you are also absolutely welcome to share it with everyone everywhere, but what I am talking about is the kind of creativity that lies within you and is something that you engage in that makes you feel more alive and truly in the moment.

What I want to share with you is that your garden of creativity is always inside of you. It never really dies. It is just waiting for you to reconnect with it. All it needs is your time, attention, and care, and it will bloom vividly and surprisingly into flower, full of colour, light, and energy. You just have to lean into it, get to know it, explore it, and most of all, have fun with it!

Why is this important? Well, as you might know, mindfulness is a very important skill that supports, promotes, and improves good mental health. What accessing and tapping into your creativity does for you, is it is an automatic mindfulness act. Truly engaging with your creativity is the ultimate mindfulness activity. What that means is, as you engage with your creative mind, and as you begin to write, draw, sing, dance, move, imagine, paint, sculpt, type, rap, sew, fold, carve, etc… your mind focuses in on the task at hand. Over time and with enough practice, you will develop a sense of mastery and pleasure from your chosen creative acts. Mindfully using clay, or mindfully drawing, or mindfully dancing, or mindfully writing, and so on. Engaging in your own creative acts can go a long way towards helping with many different mental health challenges, including stress, anxiety, depression, among many others. It also helps us to refine our motor skills, improves our mood, connects us with others, and can help us enhance our sense of meaning and contribution to the world. That is the magic and therapeutic benefit of tapping into your creativity.

Now, people can sometimes get confused by what often comes after creativity for some people, but these things are not really what I’m talking about. I am not talking about publishing a number one best seller, or a platinum record, or delivering an Oscar-worthy performance, etc. I am talking about you taking a moment in your day and creating something. Once there was nothing, and then you connected with your creativity, and now there is something. The drawing in the sand, the lines on the window in the fog, the traced hand, the imaginary elephant in the cloud. The funny song you just made up in your head, or the cheeky joke you just made. The way you folded your napkin to look like a swan. The sketch in your notebook of a tree. That’s what I’m talking about.

Remember, creativity is not publishing a best seller. That is publishing. Creativity is not hosting a gallery opening. That is “the art world”. Creativity is not hitting number one on the charts. That is broadcasting, downloading, and streaming. Creativity is not having your work hung in the Louver, or the loungeroom. That is curation. Creativity is not receiving or considering any feedback, advice, or opinions about your art. That is criticism or commentary (and it is completely irrelevant during the creative phase). Creativity is also not caring about what anyone thinks about your creativity and your creations or trying to impress anyone other than yourself with your creativity. The fundamental point of creating anything, is purely to express yourself, to communicate, or to fulfill a need in the world. Beyond that point, there can of course be a myriad of different needs, steps or actions that could take place to propel some piece of creativity into the world. But, in its rawest most honest moments, creativity is yours, it is you, and that is the most important part of all. You are as creative as you want to be.

So now, I invite you to see how creative you can be. Even if just for today. Even if just for 15 minutes, or less. Even just for a moment. I know that you will dedicate yourself to your phone, or streaming, or gaming, or something for at least 15 minutes today (because I’ll likely do the same too). Even still, I invite you to draw a simple line drawing of whatever takes your eye on a scrap of paper. I invite you to imagine and then see an animal in the clouds outside. I invite you to draw something in the fog on the window, or to trace some lines in the sand or soil. I invite you to write down those jokes, or that short story, even in dot point form. I invite you to play with the salt & pepper shakers as if they are musical instruments or superheros battling out a final scene after dinner. I invite you to create anything, even an imaginary scene within your own mind. Anything that you want.

I invite you to reconnect with and tap back in to your creative garden, to play, and to allow yourself to enjoy those beautiful creative parts of you that you might have forgotten that you had within you. Do it just for you. Allow yourself to get to know that part of you again, and really enjoy it. Who knows how far it might take you. Maybe a few moments of joy and connection throughout a tough week. Maybe a more enjoyable trip home on the train. Maybe a new fortnightly hobby. Maybe more. Either way, that is not our focus here. It is your tapping back into your creativity. Your creativity is right there under the surface, gently waiting for you to engage with it. And that is the point. Create for you, just for now, and enjoy yourself!

Create mindfully and notice how present you are in your life in this moment, where even for a moment, life is magical and special, vivid, and wonderous. How wonderful of a life can you create? Even just for a moment…

Andrew Hall


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