With research showing that creativity peaks between our late 30s and early 40s, Rianna Patterson shares the benefits of engaging in creative activities as we get older.
As we grow older our bodies change too, along with our personalities. Psychologists who study creative work have discovered that one of the perks of this change sees our creativity peaking between mid-to late 30s or early 40s. An explanation of this could be because we are at a point in our lives where we stop living by design and are less concerned about what people think of us.
Creativity and aging is a topic close to Rianna Patterson, a personal development coach and filmmaker. In this article, she shares her personal experience and insights into the importance of engaging in creative activities in mid-life and beyond.
Using creativity to learn about ourselves
Creativity does not decline as we grow older. Storytelling, singing, dance, poetry, painting, gardening and weaving are all ways of engaging with our creativity. We can learn a lot about ourselves through various types of art as it is a form of expression. There is also a strong cultural and holistic context to art. Creativity helps us with introspection as well as extrospection as it provides new ways of seeing things differently. Being creative can encourage “what if” questions and the practice of reflection which is important for growth and building positive life habits. Gardening, for example, can be seen as a sensory activity, which can build awareness of our environment.
What I have learned through exploring my own creativity
I’ve learned so much about myself and my capabilities through film, I’ve also been able to work and learn from amazing people from various industries. It can bring out your inner child, where you don’t have to conform to societal norms, and you can just create something entirely new and fresh. Art transcends traditional ways of thinking or acting.
Find your own way of being creative
For example, through storytelling. Personally, I have developed a new perspective on various topics and situations from others. Seeing what other people have created around the world has inspired me to continue to create.
Photography is another area where confidence brews as you may find yourself in an unfamiliar environment to capture a shot. It also makes you think outside of the box. You may find yourself through the process by being present and capturing a special moment in time.
Written words can provide clarity, for example writing poetry can help you to understand certain situations in ways you might not have thought of. Art can also be an emotional rollercoaster which builds resilience.
Art is an example of not seeking perfection. It will never be perfect but if it is to you, that’s what matters. Creativity is a skill specific to an individual. If you “fail”, you would fail on your own terms.
The process of creating raw art can lead to a tangent of endless innovation and new ideas. This is important when you feel stuck in life. You are not sure what’s the next best move or you’ve lost your purpose in some shape or form. You can always go back to your roots. Art has a natural ability to engage our lives by embracing the process. Usually, the end result might be far from where you began, just like life.
Creativity can be a bridge to your past, and your future
Creativity can help to build relationships and simultaneously learn from each other. In my culture, the Creole period is a time where intergenerational activities are apparent, we engage in dance, playing instruments, food and art. For mothers it is a great way to create memories with your kids by drawing and painting, this helps build stronger bonds.
I remember crocheting with my grandmother, one of my fondest memories with her and something I can also pass on to my future children.
Creativity is a language that requires no interpretation
It is like an unspoken language that is recognised by different cultures. Although artistry does not involve extensive brain work it also engages the mind and allows us to expand our thinking in a way that unblocks the normal pattern of our thoughts. This is useful for abstract thinking as well as improving memory. Studies show that creative activity can be particularly beneficial to people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It can also be used as a preventative exercise to decrease the likelihood of developing neurodegenerative diseases.
It can be a form of escapism
Creativity can provide a much-needed escape from the world we live in. The bills, the hustle culture and the politics. We are able to create our own realities, it provides the freedom to design whatever we envision. It gives us a space to dream big.
You’re never too old to embrace creativity and art
Art encapsules our mindset, perception and experiences. Getting older can be daunting but it should be seen as a beautiful experience of continual self-discovery and the ability to express this through creative pursuits should be encouraged. Ultimately, creativity can contribute to healthy aging, bringing healthy properties for the mind and body.
Remember, you are never too old to be creative or artistic.
Rianna Patterson is a personal development coach, TEDx speaker and psychology graduate who lives and works in England. She is the founder of a youth-led dementia charity called Dominica Dementia Foundation which she launched when she was 18, in memory of her grandfather. She also directed the film Dementia: The Island Journey, a documentary on dementia in the Caribbean.