Color Outside the Lines

By Sami Schwartz ’13, Public and Community Health, Center for Health and Wellbeing Intern
Image source: Grounded on the Daily (click for original)

Image source: Grounded on the Daily (click for original)

  • 8:00am- Wake up
  • 8:30am- Go to the gym
  • 9:30am- Get ready for work, eat breakfast, make my lunch
  • 11:00am-7:00pm- Work
  • 7:30pm- Dinner
  • 8:00pm- Laundry/clean, homework, watch TV, hang out with friends, relax, etc.
  • 12:00am- Go to sleep

This is a typical day for me – consistent, average, and nothing particularly new or exciting.

Sometimes I find it hard to live a creative and imaginative lifestyle when I get so caught up in the other aspects of daily life – friends, family, work, school.  I try to change up my schedule by adding or eliminating something, but more often than not I revert back to the basics.

On one hand, I take comfort in knowing what each day will be like. There’s no need to stress or plan something new and I don’t run the risk of feeling unprepared. But on the other hand, I naturally get bored of doing the same daily routine and crave new experiences.

In order to avoid this “same old, same old” mentality, plan ahead and make room in your hectic life to become more creative.

Making creativity a priority allows you to figuratively (and maybe, literally!) color outside the lines of your life.

Here are some ideas to shake up your routine, but of course – be creative!

  1. Play travel agent. Plan a day trip for you and some of your best friends. UMD happens to be close to beaches to the east and mountains to the west, not to mention our nation’s capital just a few minutes south. Here are some great places to play out and about near our campus >>
  2. Channel your inner foodie. Never tried Ethiopian food? Not sure what pho is? Instead of defaulting to the same burger or pizza joint, make it a point to try something new next time you decide to eat out.
  3. Sign-up for something you think you’re not good at. Think you have two left feet? Pretty sure a 5-year old could make a better piece of art than you? Tone deaf? Turn off that pesky voice in your head telling you these stories. The Art & Learning Center in the Stamp offers classes including bellydancing, salsa, hip-hop, drawing, painting, ceramics and intro to guitar.

Maybe the trip will be a disaster, maybe you’ll hate the food, and maybe the dance floor really isn’t the place for you.

But here’s the thing – failure is when you know you’re doing it right.

Taking risks and making mistakes are necessary to living a creative life.

So, what’s the big deal about living a creative life in the first place?

Creativity and novel experiences are fuel for the practice of wellness. A class could stimulate your mind and lead you down a new academic or career path (intellectual/vocational wellness). A stranger you met in a place you don’t normally hang out could become a new friend (social wellness). Engaging in art or other forms of creative play could be a way to express your spirituality and connection with others (spiritual wellness).

Or a clear piece of plexiglass and some fingerpaint could, as one participant in this video said, “free the soul”.

Too often we let the pressures and hassles of daily life get in the way of doing something imaginative. We avoid the (very real) possibility of making a mistake and fear being wrong. We won’t deny it – creativity takes courage.

I recently signed up for The Color Run to try something new. Hopefully I will run the whole thing, but maybe I won’t. It doesn’t matter because I am feeling happy about it already.

What is something new you’re going to try this month? Share with us in the comments below!

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