As a kid, whenever I’d hastily compose a picture of a cycloptic blob or attack an unoffending piece of paper with angry orange scrawl, I’d proudly shove the picture in my mother’s face, already knowing what she’d say.
“Ooh!” she’d gasp. “How… creative!”
There’s no concrete definition of creativity, but most experts agree it’s got something to do with the ability to come up with new ideas, new links between ideas, and novel solutions to problems (with or without destroying a pack of Crayolas). But here’s the kicker: Forget the image of the brooding artist alone in a basement studio. Research suggests creative people are actually happier than everyone else.
multitasking-creativity-400×400.jpg issues such as depression. Studies suggest creative people tend to be more vulnerable to psychiatric issues, particularly bipolar disorder. Yet many psychologists say depression has nothing to do with the ability to be creative. Instead, creativity is associated with self-reflection, and that tendency to ruminate may be what’s causing the feelings of depression.
In fact, far from promoting creativity, depression may actually make it harder for people to be creative, and they may only start to be creative again once their mood improves. But creativity might be a remedy for the blues: Barron suggests doing something creative (like writing about a bad experience) can help people get over feelings of depression.
As always, if depression is a serious issue, consider seeing a therapist. But when life has just got us in a funk, it looks like staying holed up in the bedroom blasting Alanis Morissette won’t lead to any creative revelations. Instead, consider singing a new song, penning a poem, or trying to solve that damn Rubiks cube. Who knows what you might discover?
How do you express your creativity? Do you find your mood improves when you’re creative?
This article originally appeared on Greatist.com