“It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.”
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Intrinsic Value of Creativity
If you’re involved in creativity at all, like keeping a journal, or learning to express yourself through art, it’s likely that you’re doing it for it’s intrinsic value.
Intrinsic value means you’re motivated by something within, the desire is flowing from somewhere inside of you.
It’s not really some outer result you’re after, but more of an inner hunger or thirst that you are feeding. And if this part of you isn’t being fed, you simply feel off in some way. Out of sorts. Not quite yourself.
I have always thought of my creativity and creative actions as an inner imperative.
Creative action is something I need to do, have to nourish, must allow more of. If I don’t, it’s as if the meaning of my life goes missing.
If you’ve ever wondered this about keeping a journal:
How can something that is so fun, and so…seemingly frivolous—really make a dent in the big deal problems and struggles that I am facing right now?
Then check out: Why bother keeping an art journal or sketchbook?
And try this: Next time you feel off balance or out-of-sorts, check in with yourself. When was the last time you did something creative you really enjoy? When was the last time you wrote in your journal, drew in your sketchbook, got your collage or paint supplies out?
In addition to today’s journal prompts, below, I invite you to take some notes on what intrinsic value and inner imperative mean to you. What things feel necessary for their own sake, for your own well-being?
It can seem indulgent to play in an art journal.
Until you take stock of how much well-being you get as a result.
How much joy you feel, and how centered in yourself you become, even after just a few minutes of playing with simple art supplies in your journal.
In terms of therapeutic value, it’s really damn effective, and also a bargain in terms of investment.
And speaking of that, I might as well sneak in a link to this post:
that I rarely have linked to. Even after a couple of years, it still feels so raw and vulnerable to share.
Introducing Dr. Flow
Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the architect of the notion of “flow” — the creative moment when a person is completely involved in an activity for its own sake.
I’ll tell you how to pronounce his name in a moment. For a long time, I’ve affectionately thought of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi simply as Dr. Flow.
He says creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives, a subject he became fascinated by as a child imprisoned in Italy during World War II.
Since then, and a wonderfully synchronistic meeting with Carl Jung himself, (see the Ted talk, below) he has devoted his life to studying what makes people truly happy:
“When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”
How Does It Feel to Be in Flow?
Dr. Csikszentmihalyi interviewed thousands of people from all over the world and found seven common attributes of the flow state:
- You’re completely involved in what you’re doing— focused and concentrated
- A sense of ecstasy–of being outside of everyday reality.
- Great inner clarity—you know what needs to be done and you know well you are doing
- Knowing that the activity is doable, that you have the necessary skills to complete the task successfully
- A sense of serenity—no worries about yourself, and a feeling of going beyond the boundaries of the ego
- Timelessness—completely focused in the present moment, an losing a sense of time
- Intrinsic motivation—whatever produces flow becomes it’s own reward
How do you pronounce Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi?
Yeah, I wondered that, too.
This video show you how it sounds, which goes something like this:
Me high. Cheeks sent me high.
Say that really fast and you’ve got it!
Today’s Journal Prompts:
Remember a time when you acted freely, unselfconsciously…
What did that feel like?
What enabled you to take such free action?
What was the reward for acting so freely?
Explore (Even) More
I’ve just recently had the pleasure of meeting Suzi Banks Baum, of Laundry Line Divine, when she attended my workshops in North Caroline this summer. If you don’t yet know Suzi, I do hope you’ll go visit her (tell her I sent you), as she has so much to offer anyone who dreams of expressing themselves more. She gives us an inside look at her creative practice and tools right here.
Now, let’s talk about indulging in YOUR creative dreams and desires…
Every idea first begins with a dream, or some inking to create or grow that we can’t quite name.
I discovered how to follow my dreams and even make a living from them, using this simple, yet powerful creative process.
You can, too.
Dreaming On Paper helps you excavate your own true desires, innate wisdom, and intuition, with ease, gentleness and joy.
This workshop is one of the foundational, prerequisite courses for the facilitator training.
Right now you can get Dreaming on Paper at a nice discount with Bundle Up special over on my workshops page. This offer expires July 31.
Every once in a while, I do something really crazy with pricing, and this is an example.
This post is part of the 30 Day Journal Project.
Our theme for this year is: FLOW.
Just discovered this project? Great! You can begin right now.
Pop your email into the box below, and you’ll each day’s prompts delivered to you:
You’ll get Day 1 immediately when you sign up, and a new prompt each day after for 30 days.
Don’t want to receive prompts by email – or did your daily email go missing?
No worries, we’ve got options:
1. Every day for 30 days, a brand new set of journaling prompts is posted right here on my blog. Creative journaling is my number one tool as an artist and creative entrepreneur.
2. You can get printables of ALL 30 days of prompts here >
Beauty & Connection
You may join our closed FB Group for this project here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/30dayjournal/
Each inspirational quote for the 30 Day Journal Project has a pretty visual graphic for you to print out and paste your journal, add to your Pinterest gallery, or share as you wish.
You are invited to share your experience in the comments—the dream is to collect your stories for an upcoming book about this project.
Use the hashtag #30DAYJOURNAL in your blog and social media posts so we can find each other and build our creative community.