What did you make when you were little?

Did you paint? Did you sing? Did you play an instrument in the school band or build a treehouse with your grandpa? Did you write stories or invent recipes?

Making is part of who we are as humans. It is hard-wired into us to create. And when we’re little, it’s all about the joy; it’s about exploration and risk-taking. It’s about connecting with someone who can teach us, or reaching someone through a product of our heart. It’s about sharing something about ourselves with the world and saying with an excited catch of our breath, “Look!”

But somewhere, somehow, a lot of that evaporates. We get caught up in the final product and overlook the importance of the process. We worry about judgment or failure. We compare ourselves to others and see another’s talent not as a gift to be shared, but as height we’ll never reach.

But we shouldn’t let that be. The health benefits of creativity are well proven.

  • It reduces stress. Whether we’re creating ourselves or letting ourselves experience someone else’s creation, it soothes us and moves us. It lowers our blood pressure and raises our endorphins.
  • It improves our mood. Wrapping ourselves in art, music, cooking or storytelling is a sure fire way to lift spirits and quiet our anxieties.
  • It helps our brain. Learning a new skill or pushing ourselves to better an existing one is about the best brain exercise there is. Forcing our adult brains to form new neural pathways can help stave off dementias and even the milder cognitive impacts of normal aging.

So I challenge to you take up a skill! Resurrect something you used to love or close your eyes and point to a page in your local community center’s class offerings. Maybe in a few months time you’ll be able to:

Cook a new cuisine
Knit a cap
Paint a flower
Write a travel blog
Photo your kids or beloved pets
Play a new instrument
Dance the tango
Decorate a room
Sew a quilt
Preserve some fruit
Built a birdhouse

And on and on! So go ahead – it’s good for you! And I’d love to see what you make!!!

— Lori O’Hara