What’s the secret to a happy, healthy life? Creation. Humans are naturally creative beings. Everything we define as having value will be some form of creation, even if it’s just the creation of some humour for a laugh, or some baking for someone’s enjoyment.
We create families, businesses, and communities. We can create homes and meals and schedules for ourselves, experiences for ourselves and our children, books for others to read, songs for them to sing, or art for them to behold –and there’s a reason we call it ‘making’ friends. These are all creative acts.
We can also build businesses, or develop ideas or systems within businesses. We can come up with a better filing system, or invent technologies, or develop new scientific insights, experiments, or tools. We can knit, or sew or crochet or weave. We can even create more loving relationships with those around us. The act of creation is what gives our lives their life.
To avoid creation is to kill our spirit. As the saying goes, idle time (or hands) is the Devil’s Workshop. If we avoid creating a bigger world in some way –by hiding from responsibilities, or by drinking or taking drugs, or simply through locking ourselves away out of fear– our minds will still continue to create even though our spirit has been left with nowhere to go. This is where we can turn creation against ourselves.
Left with nothing to do but create thoughts, our ego will take an idle life and fill it with the sort of thinking that bounces around inside of us in a painful manner.
Maybe that’s us laying in bed with insomnia after what feels like a day with too little meaning or productivity. Or maybe it’s just a day of unproductive ‘spinning’ where most of what we do is procrastinate while we internally beat ourselves up. But those sorts of thoughts are why it is important to learn to quiet the ego’s voice and quell our crazed and busy minds.
If we want our lives to change we have to shift from creating the thinking that is telling us our lives are bad, and we need to use that same energy to create a worthwhile life to live instead. In the end, for anyone experiencing it, feeling ‘crazy’ isn’t who we are. It is what we are doing.
The next few times you feel badly, note that it will be during bouts of thought. But when our minds are busy creating any value at all, we are fine –we are ‘being’ that productivity. At that point we are less a person with emotions and we are more of a flowing verb; an action; a principle in motion.
And what does all of this trading-thought-for-action mean for our mental health? It means the question in life then ceases to be ‘how can I feel better?’ and instead becomes, ‘what can I do to add value to myself or the world?’
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.