We must stop thinking that creativity is a gift given to a special class of people. Here are ways to find the ‘small epiphanies of beauty’ in our everyday lives.
Being creative is not for the select few. It is not something reserved for those with downtown studio space or fine art degrees. It’s for all of us. We don’t need thousands of Instagram followers to be labelled as “a creative,” we just need courage. Besides, creative isn’t a noun. It’s an adjective. In his Letter to Artists, St. John Paul II writes that “all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own lives: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”
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In the daily grind, we are often quick to throw beauty to the wayside in favor of efficiency. But, as the famous quote goes, “without beauty, the world will sink into despair.” So, buy those flowers. Wear those pearls to the grocery store. We all depend on what John Paul would call “small epiphanies of beauty”!
In that same spirit of saving the world, here are five ways to make a “masterpiece” of your life:
1. Let’s start with those jeans
I like my denims as much as the next girl but it has to be said: jeans are uninspiring. St. Josemaria Escriva, a Spanish priest and the founder of Opus Dei, was outspoken in his belief that the way we dress can lead people to God. If your lively floral-print pants or your full, flowing skirts remind someone of life’s small joys or inspire a poem on the subway, we’ve done our job!
2. Write on your walls
I mean really write on them. With marker or paint. The fear of making some kind of permanent mistake is what hinders most of us from venturing into creative waters. Throw caution to the wind and write a few lines of your favorite Psalm, song, or poem on the wall where you work or sleep. This small gesture of rebellion will open the floodgates (or ink gates?) and make fear of creativity a “write-off.”
3. Look deeply into the eyes of others
Not only does eye contact create a feeling of connectedness (think about a baby’s reflex to seek mother’s eye contact) it also heightens our awareness of the present moment. Research out of the University of Paris shows that when we maintain eye contact with others, we feel more self-aware and sensitive to our own thoughts, beliefs and feelings. When we are planted firmly in the moment by being fully present to those in our midst, we cultivate the peacefulness necessary for creativity to flourish.
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4. Go outside
Evergreens caked in thick, white powder; your breath billowing before your eyes. The sun nuzzling into the horizon amid swirls of coral and golden yellow sky. Nature never runs out of inspiration! So, when your creative well is running dry, getting outside should be your first line of defense. The Psalms are filled with rich imagery extolling the beauty of God in nature. In her book, The Privilege of Being A Woman, Alice Von Hildebrand writes that “authentic creativity in creatures depends on their degree of receptivity.” All that is good, true and beautiful comes from above. If we are radically open to receive God in our surroundings, a creative life is inevitable.
5. Give yourself time to waste time
More than ever, our time is at a premium. There are handfuls of projects, friendships, and meetings competing for our time and for our head space at any given moment. The most successful, busy people know how to carve out time for guilt-free leisure.
In an On Being podcast interview, New York Times best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert reaffirms the age-old adage: if you need something done, give it to a busy person. “Most of the most beautiful and interesting things in the world that have ever been made were made by people who didn’t have enough time, didn’t have enough resources, didn’t have probably any education.” By simply making something more beautiful than it has to be, Gilbert says we defeat the tragic misconception that the creative life belongs to a “very special class of people.”
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