Friday, June 22, 2012
40 Pieces of the Happiness Puzzle - Part 10
Being happy is a state of being most of us want to experience, though not everyone is skilled at reaching and prolonging this state. There are a range of ways to experience feelings of happiness, with certain methods being better for some than others.
This is the 7th post in a series of 40 on the techniques you can employ to experience and prolong the feeling of happiness. The first post was on Sensory Hedonism, followed by Achievable Challenges, Serving Others, Expertise, Fake it Till You Make It, Stay Busy, Aligned Integrity, Constructive Activism, and Live Quietly.
#10: Bringing Things into Existence
Why have hobbies? Hobbies are both efficacious and fun, giving us an opportunity to express ourselves creatively. Much like the blank slate of our minds, bringing something new into existence begins with a blank slate or canvas.
Often times when we're not "being creative" a creative thought will enter our mind. A new product, a new concept, or a new storyline. Where it comes from has long since been a matter of debate.
Questions like: How does it happen? Where does it come from? What is creativity? have captured the imaginations of philosophers, cognitive scientists, and artists for centuries. Whether creativity is a distinctively-human creative capacity or there for all beings to access is not known, but whatever it is and wherever it comes from most theorists assume that creativity requires ideas, behavior, or an object that is both novel and valuable to be categorized as creative.
Take for example a joke. Comedians weave familiar words and concepts in a way to heighten a concept they wish to express, be that one of incongruity or surprise. The moment you hear the joke, it sounds so simple, so easy, and yet, few people conceive of them. Many people can retell a joke, but most of the jokes circulating around are Millerian the extreme i.e., very old jokes.
So, where do new jokes come from? Presumably, new jokes arise from the same place from which art, sculpture, or new ways of thinking about old problems emerge.
Irrespective of how one goes about transforming the mundane into a something new, one thing is for certain, the experience of bringing something new into existence evokes happiness. Whenever someone creates something new or comes up with a creative solution to a problem at work, satisfaction, pride, and then happiness generally accompany the experience.
Perhaps creativity is an evolutionary trait. Creative people outwit competition and attract desirable mates. Most people enjoy experiencing creativity, if they didn't we wouldn't house art and sculpture in museums, no one would pay money to go to an amusement park or a comedy club, and no one would care about "what's in" or "what's new" at the box office.
Whenever we bring about a great new idea or object into existence, we feel a buzz of excitement. In some ways, what we create is an extension of our identity. People often refer to their books, paintings, or ideas as their "babies."
One day, I started using the word FUNtastic written exactly as I typed it with FUN in capital letters and tastic in small letters, making it easier for readers to differentiate between the two, but that's just a silly, trivial thing - or is it?
Most people would agree that there are degrees of creativity. The linguistic example above might be considered slightly or moderately creative whereas composing a new concerto or sculpting a human figure might be regarded as highly creative or a stroke of brilliance.
Then again, it might depend on the audience. Noam Chomsky might consider my little wordplay to be more innately significant than a sculpture of a human being, despite the skill or precision in which it was executed. After all, we see more brilliance in things that are personally meaningful.
One thing is for certain, creativity is personal. It doesn't matter from whence creativity arises or whether anyone else likes or values our creative contributions, what really matters is that we enjoy the experience. That's where the happiness in creativity lies... our own personal enjoyment.