Creativity can be found in any discipline and every person can be creative in their own way. Using creation as a path to wellbeing means learning how to align ourselves with enjoyment: what happens when we are fully engaged in the process of making something? Creativity enlivens us by fostering a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the world around us and our inner worlds. By tapping into these emotions of awe and appreciation, creative action naturally fosters a sense of connectedness. Creative arts also have an important role to play in helping us understand our pasts, presents, and futures as inherently ‘storied’ – historical events, or even a personal interaction we had today, are all conceptualized through our idiosyncratic contexts. By studying and making various forms of art, we can directly experience the ways that people have told stories for millennia. Understanding the world in this way can help us not only have compassion for others, but also think about alternative ways to communicate across divides and make change happen. 

Writing for Wellbeing

Here, Jordan discusses the ways in which writing can be a practice for generating deeper awareness. Writing engages with the narratives we create in our minds, allowing us to have a better idea of the the way these stories are shaping our lives. Jordan also emphasizes the way in which traditional mindfulness principles can be applied to writing in order to strengthen its benefits. Find a few of Jordan’s writing practices at their Reflect and Practice page.

Creating Better Stories through Art

Dr. Richardson explains how studying art is also the study of how human beings create stories out of their time and place. Histories and political movements are stories made by piecing facts together and choosing goals to make out of them. For students to understand themselves as potential change-makers, they first need to know which stories are important to them, and then how to represent and communicate those stories to others. In this way, studying art is also the study of how to move the hearts and minds of people. 

How Art Makes an Argument

Dr. Richardson discusses that the function of art is often to be seen and responded to. However, art from other times and places will elicit a very different response from modern viewers than from viewers at the time it was made. This discrepancy, when pointed out to us, allows us to see our societal conditioning in the assumptions we make about the art piece. Understanding this, we can then see art as a vehicle for communicating norms to its community members – how to be an ethical person, a religious person, etc. It makes these arguments through images instead of words, through eliciting opinions and assumptions rather than making commands. 

Designing Technology for Wellbeing

Jay lists the three biggest insights he has gained from his work in design. From these insights, he talks about some pathways towards using and designing technology in healthier ways. Since we cannot escape the use of technology, we need to learn how to use it in the kindest and most mindful ways possible.

What is Awe?

Dr. Stellar explains the difficulty in defining this multifaceted emotion. She sees it as having two essential aspects: a reaction to perceiving vastness and a feeling of incomprehensibility of the thing encountered. Artists and writers have been interested in awe for a long time, but science has yet to fully conceptualize it.

How Can We Cultivate Awe?

Dr. Stellar explains the importance of paying attention in order to cultivate awe in our everyday lives. It’s not that we are incapable of awe; it’s just that we are often too busy to notice awe-inspiring aspects of life. Make awe a part of your routine by dedicating time to that which you personally find beautiful and inspiring. Allow yourself to be absorbed by beauty. 

Selected resources for learning more

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is a classic guide for anyone who wants to learn about writing as a practice for self-exploration and spiritual growth. It includes exercises, techniques, and explanations about ‘how to write’ in a way that can liberate us.