We all know that being present is good for our well being.
But do you know a great way of being present?
That’s right! - by doing something creative.
So it follows that doing something creative is good for your well being.
Don’t get distracted
Life is full of distractions. When we’re unwell, low on energy or just bored, we actively seek out ways to distract ourselves. Phones, TV, games, media, obligations and work all vie for our attention.
We miss what’s going on right in front of us because our minds are wandering all over the place.
We think about all the things we have to do, all the things we want to achieve. We cling to the hope that one day, when everything comes good, we’ll be happy.
As Ryan Holiday notes in his book Stillness is the Key, “We are not present … and so we miss out. On life. On being our best. On seeing what’s there.”
Still the mind
Your mind cannot be still if you’re thinking about the past or the future. You won’t find calm if you’re anxious or regretful, dreaming or reminiscing.
But calm is what you need. A busy mind uses a lot of energy, energy that you need if you want to get your work done.
Remember that nothing is real apart from right now. You can’t rely on the future because it might never happen. This moment is all you’ve got.
Doing your creative work gives you an opportunity to be present. The creative process will stop your mind from wandering. The longer you can stay there, the more work you will get done and the better your well being will be.
So how do you become more present?
Spend time doing something creative
Obviously. Being creative allows you to concentrate on what’s in front of you. As you work away on your creative project you're more involved in the act of doing. All your thoughts will be on the work in front of you.
Many artists talk about being in a state of flow. Much like athletes who are in the zone, their actions become automatic, their minds and bodies focused on what’s happening in that moment.
When you are deep in creative mode you stop thinking about the past or the future. You stop worrying about what did or what will happen. All you see is now. This moment.
Have a process
Having a process takes away the need to think about what you’re doing. It also gives you confidence in your ability to get things done.
You learn to trust in the process. When you have the steps in place to create something you can start working, right now, without thinking. And, you can keep repeating the process, each time improving on what went before.
Much like a runner does reps to improve her running, you must have your own drills in place. When you’re focused on the process your mind will have less chance of wandering.
Spend time observing
If you’re not an artist, then you need to become like one if you want to be more present.
Artists spend a lot of time looking and seeing. If you want to capture something important about life and represent it through your work, you had better be good at finding it.
Spending time observing the world around us forces us to be present. You have to fully engage with your surroundings if you want to notice things.
You won’t be worrying about tomorrow if you’re engrossed in trying to articulate something important.
Be happy with what you have
All you have (and all you will ever have) is what you have right now.
Stop worrying about what you don’t have. Don’t worry about what you think you need. At this very moment you have everything you need to be creative.
Sometimes all you need to do is stop thinking and start working. If time is short or energy low, do something small. Write a few lines, do a quick sketch or play a few notes.
Whatever it is you do, commit to it for a few moments. Stay calm and be in the moment with whatever it is you are doing.
Being creative gives us the chance to be in the present. A present where the past and future don’t exist.
In the present we don’t feel anxious or regretful and we’re not pinning our hopes on something that may never happen.
In the present your world becomes what’s in front of you, a world where your creativity comes alive.
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