Monday Musing: Creativity vs. Anxiety

I’ve never really considered these 2 states to be opposites.  But I saw this quote (Facebook? Pinterest? I can’t remember any more) and downloaded it, and made it the wallpaper on my work computer:

I’m not a subscriber to Deepak Chopra’s overall philosophy, but this quote struck a chord for me.  The one thing creativity and anxiety have in common is imagination!  Normally I use imagination in a positive sense, as describing wishes, hopes, dreams, possibilities.  But when I really think about it, anxiety does stem from letting imagination run to the most negative place.

I tend to be equal parts hopeful and anxious.  I generally have a positive outlook on big things (a 500-mile move with no housing lined up, nearly 2 years living apart from my then-husband because of his job location, separation and divorce…) but I get all worked up and gloomy over little things (the terrible voicemail message I left for a client recently – I was totally unclear, and even gave the wrong phone number – it’s still bothering me).  I definitely imagine that people think the worst about me over little mistakes, and that causes a lot of unnecessary anxiety!

The crazy thing is that our imagination can be under our control.  We talk about someone’s imagination “running away” with them, but we choose where we focus our attention.  It isn’t always easy to change the focus off the negative.  But when we focus on the positive, it’s always by choice, isn’t it?  We don’t just go through our day and realize, “Oh, I’m really thinking positive thoughts, and imagining good things for myself, and wow I feel inspired!”  Most of the time we have to choose a positive experience – either through an activity (music? stitching?), or a distraction, or a conversation with a friend.  These may seem automatic, but they are choices.  They are our “go-to” solutions for a bad mood.  When I’m truly anxious or mad, my kitchen gets soooo clean!  I choose to channel the negative energy into a task (loathsome) that gets a positive result.  And when I’m elbow-deep in dish water, I find my “imaginings” start to turn and become more realistic.  And suddenly I have a positive outlook – and sometimes even a solution!  And clean dishes!

Really, that’s what creativity is – harnessing imagination and using it in a positive way.  To solve a problem.  To bring joy and beauty.

What do you all think about this?

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