Doing Something Creative Can Boost Your Well-Being
Article by Jill Suttie (2017)
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What is the Science?

In popular culture, creativity is often associated with madness. However, recent research suggests that creativity is much more strongly associated with well-being. One recent study pursued this correlation even further to see if creativity might be causing well-being or if well-being causes creativity. After studying 650 young adults, researchers observed that participants expressed a higher level of well-being the day after they engaged in a higher than usual amount of creative activity. Because this study only looked at self-reported creativity, it appears that, pertaining to the feeling of well-being, the quality of one’s creative activity is not as important as the feeling of being creative. Moreover, personality did not make a difference, suggesting that anyone can benefit from doing more creative things.

“Results showed that people who were engaged in more creative activities than usual on one day reported increased positive emotion and flourishing the next day, while negative emotions didn’t change.” – Jill Suttie

What is the Theology?

U.S. culture often perceives creativity as something for artsy people who are “right-brained” (which may not be neurologically accurate), while the rest of us are left to uncreative rationalism. Yet we worship an incredibly creative God who made us in the image of God and commanded us to, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. (Gen 1:28, NRSV). None of us are left out of this command to create! While there are definitely people who are better at creative activities such as writing, painting, film, etc., everybody can create something beautiful as they contribute to the flourishing of the world. And, as this research suggests, we should expect to experience more well-being as we participate in God’s creative command to be good stewards of our world.

What to Consider

  • How are you currently participating in God’s command in Gen 1:28? Do you see this command as an opportunity to be creative?
  • Are there people in your life who you perceive as being especially creative? Why do you see them that way? What do they do that makes them seem more creative than the average person? What can you learn from them?
  • What are some creative activities in which you engage? How are you able to increase your creativity?

How to go Deeper

  • Hold an event to celebrate the arts. This might be an open-mic night, a painting class, or any other event you can dream up. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
  • Find ways to use people’s creativity in the life and ministries of the church. Recruit people to write prayers, liturgies, and songs for worship services; tap into creative ways to serve the community; or decorate your grounds with art created by community members.
  • Preach a sermon on Genesis 1:26-31 and God’s command to humanity. Emphasize ways congregants might view their vocations as ways to participate in this command.

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

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About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

3 Comments

  1. matt@ncstudycenter.org August 4, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I’m curious, what range of activities led people to self-report feeling creative?

    • matt@ncstudycenter.org August 4, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      Is the range of activities limited to art, music, filmography, etc? Or could it also include less obvious things such as: parenting techniques, cooking, etc.

  2. marymact@gmail.com August 9, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    I think that having a creative outlet can be very helpful in ministry as well! It is a great way to rest and be refreshed.

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