Do you paint, or sketch, or write short stories, or find new ways to solve old problems? You should! There is substantial evidence that creativity preserves youth.
Scientists have long been interested in the factors that either accelerate or delay aging and death. Our attention has been strongly focused on disease and other physical factors. Over time, it became clear that other non-physical elements, including personality also play a role.
Researchers evaluated a large group of United States veterans over two decades. They were interested in the role that personality played on their mortality patterns. Of all the personality facets they tested, creativity stood out as a key driver of longevity. Higher levels of creativity were associated with a reduced risk of death.
Creativity modulates the stress response. We know from other research that more open and adventurous individuals tend to have attenuated physiological responses to stress. Their blood pressure doesn’t rise as readily when they are challenged with new or difficult situations. Similarly, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol remain more stable through stressful situations. It is likely then, that creativity enables us to experience the stresses and challenges of aging with fewer physical consequences. Creativity and intellectual resilience allow us to discover new approaches to life’s challenges, without inducing undue physiological harm.
We all have a degree of creativity in our personalities. Through our life experiences, we tend to either encourage or suppress this trait. Based on this research, this is a vital aspect of our personality that we should cherish and nourish. It extends our lives and, without doubt, makes the journey more interesting and colorful.