After spending a month at a cabin this summer I learned a lot about how quality of life and creativity are positively correlated.
That was my big lesson.
We weren’t at the cabin for the entirety of July, but during our month-long rental, stayed there more days than not.
It was a 30-minute boat ride from town to the island.
There was cell service, but no internet. I couldn’t do any work – not that I was planning to – but the lack of internet ensured I wouldn’t be tempted.
It was hard relaxing the first few days and I found myself carrying my phone around like it was tethered to me.
Days 3 and 4 were when I let myself relax – HARD. I’m talking two naps a day hard.
And, then I had to settle into long days of no schedule, no expectations, and no “shoulds”.
At first, I was bored. I’m a doer and type A. I like to check things off of lists.
Then, I picked up the paintbrush for a few minutes. And, I did it again the next day. And, the next.
The painting sessions got longer and I got more lost in them.
I didn’t try to make anything. It was just a melding of water, pigment, and brushstrokes.
It was colours and patterns. It was making marks. I just wanted to see what would happen when I tried things.
Over that month at the cabin, my painting sessions became looser and freer. When I wasn’t painting, I noticed patterns and textures in the clouds, in the water, and in the trees.
I was painting just for myself.
Then something else amazing happened to the rest of my life.
It started to feel less frantic and more like time was mine to tame.
You see, I didn’t get less done in my business or work during this time. I did the same amount without the struggle. Without the hustle feeling. Without the little voice telling me that I wasn’t enough unless I was doing more and more.
Quality of life and creativity have a positive correlation with each other. When one goes up, so does the other. This also works in reverse – when one goes down, they both do.
That’s my belief, at least.
Nurture your creativity and your quality of life goes up. Improve your quality of life and your creativity goes up.
Sure, there are the stories of the tortured artist, but how would these artists have fared if they hadn’t had creativity in their lives? I’m willing to bet their quality of life would have been a lot worse than it was.
So, how do you incorporate this principle into your life?
Here are 3 tips to move towards a better quality of life and creativity:
1. Pace Yourself
It’s not a sprint. Both quality of life and creativity is a marathon and if you go full out all day, every day, you’re going to burn yourself out quicker than you can say Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (yep, his full name).
Small steps taken consistently over time lead to bigger gains because there’s less chance of a crash and burn happening. When I took a step back from the hustle and the checklists, I realized that everything that needed to get done got done. And, it was clear how unrealistic my expectations about how much I should be able to get done in a day were.
2. More Play, Less Work
Let’s switch up our mindset from “I have to” to “I get to”. They feel a lot different, don’t they? “I have to” feels like a chore, like work. It’s something you’re not looking forward to. And, it probably brings forth a sense of dread. Not the best way to cultivate a great quality of life and creativity, is it?
The next time you notice yourself saying you “have to” do something, switch it out for “I get to”. I get to go to work and make money to support my creative habits. Or, instead of, I have to get a studio space before I can create anything good, how about, I get to create in this corner of my living room.
Just like when I was at the cabin, changing the words we use turns work into play. Rather than, I have to make a masterpiece or this is a waste of time, try I get to do whatever I want with this paint.
3. Celebrate Your Wins
Are you guilty of not celebrating your wins like you should? It’s hard to remember to slow down and reflect on everything you’ve accomplished. Even if it’s 5 minutes of doodling on a napkin. The beautiful thing when you pace yourself and play more than work, celebrating your wins starts to come naturally.
Celebrating doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, it just has to be intentional. Your celebration could be as simple as pausing to notice what you’ve accomplished and let that sink in for a moment. Call your best friend, tell your partner, and treat yourself to lunch out of the house. One of my favourite ways to celebrate is to take a break and take my dog for a walk. You just need to figure out what works for you.
This is easier said than done and that’s where a good coach can help you get to that next level of ease, joy, and creativity in your life. Learn more about creative life coaching here.
More creative inspiration can be found at:
The Importance of Beginner’s Mind in Life and Art