While necessity is often touted as being the mother of invention, innovative ideas aren’t only developed in times of need. A variety of studies have identified the link between happiness and creativity. The link between the two is one of the many reasons why a healthy organizational culture should be of greater priority.
Let’s dive in and take a look at happiness’s role in creativity, how creativity and happiness feed one another, and whether creativity is contagious.
What Is Happiness?
Happiness is an emotional state of well-being, which is associated with feelings of contentment, satisfaction, and joy. Happiness can be fleeting, but it is also something you can take a proactive and reactive approach to cultivate more of. From work-life balance to engaging in activities you enjoy, fulfilling employment, and maintaining strong social connections.
When speaking of activities you enjoy, creative activities are important for overall well-being. They can be a great form of self-expression, provide stress relief, and inspiration. Creativity is required when trying new activities, even those that aren’t “creative” in nature—as anything new requires creative thinking. Even if it’s an activity you try once and never again, you are likely to feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that leaves you feeling happy.
Conversely, those who are unhappy may find solace in creative activities (such as writing, painting, or playing music) as a way to express themselves and find purpose. Ultimately, creativity and happiness are two sides of the same coin. Understanding the connection between them can help us better appreciate the importance of both.
What Is Creativity?
Creativity is essential for innovation. It is the ability to brainstorm or develop new solutions and ideas. It involves imagination, problem-solving skills, and the ability to combine existing ideas in unexpected ways.
Engaging in creative activities is linked to increased positive emotions, improved self-esteem, enhanced mental health, and improved communication skills. Additionally, these activities can be a great form of self-expression and stress relief, helping to improve overall happiness.
Whether personal or professional, engaging in creative activities can also result in increased life satisfaction. This is achieved by fostering feelings of accomplishment, joy, and pride.
In other words, creativity and happiness feed one another. The happier you are, the more you are likely to create. The more you create, the happier you are. By understanding this connection, you can strategize and prioritize these essential elements.
What Is The Progress Principle?
Harvard researcher and co-author of The Progress Principle Teresa Amabile set out to debunk the myth that pain and necessity are the primary motivators of creativity. For example, a recording artist writing a breakup song or chart-topping hit after a bout of depression. Or a company that achieved unprecedented success during the pandemic. While the outcomes may be noteworthy, she wanted to prove that both day-to-day and outstanding creativity are more often driven by happiness.
Amabile and her team conducted a formal research study with 280 professionals across a wide range of industries. Participants recorded their daily emotions and creative endeavors.
The findings showed that:
- Creativity is positively impacted by joy, love, and happiness.
- Creativity is negatively impacted by anger, fear, and anxiety.
- Being happy today is more likely to result in a creative breakthrough tomorrow.
- When employees are excited about their work, they are more likely to be happy.
- Happiness and creativity create a positive cycle, one feeds and fuels the other.
Is Creativity Contagious?
“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” Albert Einstein
While you can’t force creativity, you can encourage it in your individual team members, your team as a whole, and throughout your organization.
Have you noticed that your team is more cohesive, motivated, and creative after your brand conference or a group training session? When you invest in your team, they feel valued, which sparks happiness and the positive ripple effects that come with it.
Sparking Individual Creativity
- Ensure each team member has the training and tools required to succeed.
- Acknowledge ideation, even if it’s something you don’t move forward with.
- Allow for truly open lines of communication to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
- Provide personal development plans and ensure each team member is positively challenged and fulfilled.
Sparking Team Creativity
- Brainstorm as a group, ideally using whiteboards and visual aids.
- Lead social and team-building activities to build trust and a safe place to share.
- Ensure teams have the time and resources to bring new ideas to life.
- Allow your team to create a team mantra, value, or mission statement—in addition to your organization-wide statements.
Sparking Organization-Wide Creativity
- Celebrate strategic risk-taking and reframe failure as a learning experience.
- Create a culture of innovation by prioritizing diversity, non-judgmental listening, and establishing accountability without blame.
- Reward departments, teams, and individuals for their creative successes.
- Don’t just lead and innovate from the top down, but from the bottom up.
Prioritize Cultural Drivers of Organizational Happiness
- Recognize that employees are increasingly seeking out employers they are socially and consciously aligned with.
- Prioritize diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic background, and personal and professional experience.
- Encourage happiness and creativity with perks such as flexible and hybrid work hours, social outings, community engagement, celebratory activities, wellness perks, and more.
- Ensure that your leaders lead by example and that the decisions you make are aligned with your branding, mission, vision, and values.
What Kind of Wellness Perks Should You Offer?
Let your employees decide. From wellness fairs to weekly lunch, discounted gym memberships, on-site yoga and massage, and more.
Also, consider providing your team with a small budget to personalize their office gadgets and accessories. For example, allowing employees to buy and wear earbuds while working. While computers and mobile speakers are an option, in open offices they contribute to noise pollution.
As long as it doesn’t pose a safety hazard or communication concern, listening to music while working can:
- Boost happiness
- Increase focus
- Improve retention
- Stimulate creativity
- Reduce stress
- And more!
In conclusion, creativity and happiness are interlinked. When creativity is encouraged, happiness often follows, and vice versa. With just a few small changes, you can create major shifts in individual employees and entire teams. This can help to deliver both day-to-day creativity and transformational internal innovations.
Once you have ideation you are ready to explore, IdeaScale is here to ensure you take a strategic and measurable approach!