Welcome to the Creative Hero University Gen. Eds.! First lesson on the syllabus: Intention Gratitude. We put gratitude first because it is such a huge component of creativity and the creative lifestyle. The key to strong, healthy creativity is being engaged with the world around us, and Gratitude is the best way to do that. It’s the ultimate engagement tool. Gratitude fuels creativity by keeping us open to wonder, delight, and enjoyment in the world around us.
It opens us up to find inspiration in even the most mundane circumstances, elevating the daily actions of our lives into a more creative place. It enables to see possibilities in impossible situations, and to find joy in circumstances that are far less than what our dreams. Gratitude is joyful, empowering, and full of creative potential for those who embrace it.
Gratitude is many wonderful things, but there is one thing it is not: passive. Gratitude is an active state, and only functions in those who cultivate it. As with art, gratitude works when you do. Hoping for gratitude will not bring it about in your life. Gratitude requires action, determination, and intentionality. It isn’t so much a mindset as it is a way of living life. Author Ann Voskamp describes gratitude as a “way of seeing.” In our book, we talk about wearing Gratitude Glasses, adjusting your vision to reframe the everyday aspects of life in the light of hope, possibility, and joy. It’s a daily, intentional choice to find the best in every situation, person, and circumstance.
Like a treasure hunter combing the dirt for buried gold, you can use gratitude to mine the lovely in the midst of the average, the glorious amid the mundane. Ask yourself questions like:
Where is the joyful aspect of this situation?
What is beautiful here?
What can I take delight in right now?
When you find gratitude sources, celebrate them! Keep a journal, and list out all the reasons you have to be grateful each day. Write thank you notes to the people (and things) that enrich your daily life. Keep a photo log of the beautiful things you encounter as you go through your day. As you train yourself with gratitude, you teach your vision to naturally seek out gratitude sources at every turn. Before long, even the ugliest situations will hold an element of inspiring beauty, because you’ve taught yourself to see it.
Intentional Gratitude is far more than thank you notes and finding pretty things, however; it is a powerful creative act. It is the ultimate defiance against the dark and painful experiences of this world, and greatest tool to combat the doldrums of the day-to-day life. Gratitude returns the color to a world stripped to grey by stress, busyness, and constant demands. It slows the rush of time, making room for glory and beauty to again have a place in daily life. Practicing intentional gratitude empowers you to see the joyful possibilities around, and to bring them into reality through your creative expression. The beauty that you see through gratitude can become beauty that you speak through your creative expression, and that expression can become a piece of beauty that changes someone else’s daily experience. That is powerful indeed.
Sarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in the South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative outlets; when she isn’t making art or writing, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!