How Creativity Can Make You More Resilient

What role does creativity play in your life? Do you like to make, cook, paint, write, or glue things together? The more you do, the better off you may be. And while most of us aren’t spending our days doing watercolors or writing songs, that doesn’t mean we should write off creativity, period. Because one of the best reasons to embrace more of it in your life is that it’s a powerful way to build resilience.

That’s what Brene Brown, PhD, told the audience of nearly 4,000 at the recent How Design Live conference, where graphic designers, visual artists, and other creative professionals go for information and inspiration in their industry. Brown, whose famous TED talk has garnered nearly 20 million views to date, says that the act of creating isn’t just a career—it’s a tool that helps turn ideas into action.

“The biggest question I’ve gotten in my career is this,” she said. “How do I go from understanding an idea in my head to living it in my heart?” After all, you can know a thing intellectually, but how do you make it real?

“If you want to move knowledge from your head to your heart, it requires your hands,” she said. “Creativity is the ultimate integration tool. And the best part is that it’s built in.” In other words, we all have the power to create. And it’s in the act of doing and making a thing that you go from knowing a thing to living it.

This isn’t just a nice-to-do—it’s critical for helping you get back up after you’ve fallen, she says…also known as resilience. And it just so happens to be the topic of her next book due out later this summer, Rising Strong.

A dear friend of mine, a musician, says he can tell when he’s gone too long without making something—he gets irritable, edgy, impatient. As soon as he takes even a little bit of time to invest in making something (a sketch, the beginnings of a song), he feels so much better.

So, I ask you: What creative urge have you been stifling? What thing could you do or make that would help you connect to that in-born ability and urge to create? It doesn’t have to spin off into a career or business. You don’t have to up and quit your job to go “be creative”—you can do just a few little things that help tap your nascent and fully wired ability to make things, and to take joy in the making.

It could be doodling again for the first time in years, or making a vision board but cutting out pictures from magazines that you love. Maybe it’s baking cookies again, or cooking your famous lasagna, working on an arts and crafts project with your kids.

Remind yourself of what it feels like to step into a place of creativity, knowing that just the act of taking that risk helps you feel aligned, calm, and even a little more confident than you were before. Because if you can do this, what else might you do?

(Find out how to make cooking at home more doable and fun.)