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October 06, 2015 Tuesday 05:27:25 PM IST

Boost your happiness quotient

Creative Living

“Mama, did you hide yourself. I have finished counting: “98…99….100”. The child begins its frantic search for mama who has already hidden herself, searches every nook and corner of the house. Finally it watches a small movement behind the cupboard. Imbued with joy, dancingly the child yells out: “I have found out; I have found out where mama hides”. Search and discovery bring happiness to the young minds. It instils joy without bounds and measure. It thrills. Creativeness enhances the happiness level. It boosts your happiness quotient.


Or listen to a proud child who says: “Look Mama, I made it all by myself!” To create something with one’s own hands fills the heart with mirth; not only for kids but also for adults. It’s enthralling.


Creative living is a sure way to keep yourself genuinely happy in your life. The playful discoveries and creations of the young ages are only a precursor of the vast amount of happiness in store for the rest of life associated with continued creative discoveries. The lives of great scientists, prophets, saints, artists, engineers and statesmen bear witness to the unforgettable creative moments that instilled in their heart a well-spring of happiness. Archimedes yelled out “Eureka…Eureka” as he ascended from the bath tub with an insight into the principle of buoyancy. Einstein identified a “splendid light” that dawned on him as he mulled over the fundamental interactions between matter and radiation, namely, absorption and emission. He discovered the principle of stimulated emission which paved the way for the discovery of LASER. Friedrich August Kekule von Stradonitz was all-excited to wake up after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (a common ancient symbol known as the ouroboros). This intuition led him to assign the ring shape to the benzene molecule. Those creative moments instilled in them a fountain of happiness.


Or listen to the conversations between Max Plank, the father of quantum mechanics, and Ervin Schrodinger, another stalwart who developed the mathematical foundation of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger developed the most simple equation for matter waves, proving quantization of its energy states of matter. After reading his original work, Max Plank wrote back to Schrodinger: “I am reading your paper in the way a curious child eagerly listens to the solution of a riddle with which he has struggled for a long time, and I rejoice over the beauties that my eye discovers.” The thrill of creating something new, solving a puzzle or engineering a solution is simply marvellous. Not just for its creator, but also for all who have an honest eye to perceive it. It is a joy forever!


Creativity and life-satisfaction


Based on year-long research and analysis, Robert Cloninger, a professor of Washington University at St Louis, identified the three important characteristics of life-satisfaction as: Novelty-seeking, Tenacity and Transcendence of self (Cloninger R, 2004: Feeling Good: The Science of Well-Being, Oxford University Press).


All these three aspects are, however, closely knitted with the creativeness of a person. Creative minds free themselves from boredom of daily chores of life. They refill life with new meaning. They develop novel rhythms of life. Creativity and happiness of life are but two sides of the  same coin. Tenacity is nothing but another facet of creative minds. They never abandon a “failed” project. They endeavour to achieve its goals through new means. In the place of the door that closes in front of them, they perceive hundreds of doors that are open. “Transcendence of self” is another feature of creative minds.

They keep a positive attitude in life and overcome their “egos”. They are least affected by the negativities; they rather generate positive effects out of the  negative feedback of their enemies and critics. They learn from their own failures and press forward with added vigour.


Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the world’s leading researcher on Positive Psychology, has identified reasons for close correlation between happiness and creative living. His “flow model” describes the optimization of “skill level” and “challenge level” to reach the life-fulfilment defined by “flow”. (Csikszentmihalyi M, 1996. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc). In an interview he describes “flow” of life as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.” The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost. Creative minds experience such “flow” of life.


According to Csikszentmihalyi, creative life engenders fulfilment and satisfaction of life for the following reasons:


1. Creative life yields immediate feedback to one’s actions. The feedback need not necessarily originate from outside. The person is internally aware of the “success” of the feat.


2. It reflects a perfect balance between challenges and skills. The creativity becomes “effortless”.


3. It brings about a perfect matching between awareness and actions. Action is no more a deviation from awareness or vice versa.

4. It excludes distraction from consciousness and ensures optimum involvement in the activity.


5. It is devoid of worry of failure. The fear of failure simply does not exist.


6. It causes disappearance of self-consciousness. The “egoconsciousness” evaporates. There exists total “forgetfulness” of self.


7. It eludes the sense of time. It creates a total “forgetfulness” of time - the person is no more aware of the fleeing time.


8. It does not necessitate ulterior motives. The activity becomes an end in itself.


Creative life develops the “flow” of life and enhances life satisfaction or happiness.


However, creativity is associated with toil and pain. It is oft compared with child-bearing and a birth pang. It is inconvenient, devastating and painful. We use concepts like “creative eccentricity”, “creative disturbance” and “creative insomnia” to describe their creative engagement. Creative ideas could lead you away from the centre of your person for some time, making you “eccentric” or “mad”. Creative thoughts could disturb you deeply, as it affects your core, which is designed for creativity. Creative thoughts could disturb your sleep and could keep you awake through the night. It can eat up peace of your mind. But the ultimate result of creative life is indestructible happiness, the hard-won bliss. It wipes away the pain involved in the sojourn towards it. Such high-quality happiness cannot be taken away from a creative person. It is eternal.


Creativity is the hidden secret of life satisfaction.

Happiness as better context for creativity


Happiness of mind is again a necessary prerequisite for creativity. It is commonly observed that happier people are more productive than sad people. Happier people transcend the trivialities of life, convinced of their higher call and wait for “splendid light from above”. They are open to new revelations. It is reported that people are more likely to have a creative breakthrough on a day if they were happy the day before.


A positive attitude in life ensures that we learn new skills, imbibe new perspectives and ideas. It has a rejuvenating effect. It recovers our sap in order to maintain health and well-being. It prepares us for creative breakthroughs.


Creativity is nothing peculiar to genius. All happy persons can be creative. They love what they do. They do not care about fame, power, money, publicity, awards and honours or wealth; rather, they do things since they enjoy doing it.


Creativity and relaxation


Treadmills were invented in 1818 by an English engineer, Sir William Cubitt, for use of idle prisoners at Bury St Edmunds jail. Some suggest that the original purpose of treadmills was to take away the joy of productive labour from the prisoners and to make them feel more desperate.


The modern generation may be called a “treadmill generation”, who are trained to relax resorting to unproductive means like treadmills. People are getting estranged from people and soil. They do not like to toil on soil for relaxation. Nor do they enjoy relaxation through group games or group activities.


It is high time to train the young generation in novel methods to relax by productive means. Teach them to relax by toiling on earth. Teach them sports and games, which develop teamwork, coordination and creativity. Teach them to be productive and happy. After all, creative recreation soothes body, mind and spirit.

Dr. Varghese Panthalookaran

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