4 Reasons Being Creative Will Make You Happier As You Grow Older
We don’t all age like fine wine, but there’s plenty of proof that the creative juices can keep flowing well into the twilight years.
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Millard Kaufman wrote his first novel, Bowl of Cherries, at the age of 90. Benjamin Franklin was 78 when he invented the bifocal lens. Frank Lloyd Wright completed the design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York at 92. Frank McCourt won a Pulitzer Prize at 66 for his first novel, and Giuseppe Verdi wrote the acclaimed opera Falstaff at 79.
Clearly, creativity and aging aren’t always mutually exclusive. Psychology Today reports the aging brain is characterized by a broadening focus of attention, which is a hallmark of creativity. And being creative into the senior years, research shows, can make us happier. One research project, The Creativity and Aging Study, conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts and The George Washington University, determined senior citizens engaged in creative pursuits - such as writing, painting and music - enjoyed greater feelings of morale and better overall health.
Award-winning author and poet Piero Rivolta, 77, enjoyed successful careers in car manufacturing, commercial building and sailing before re-dedicating himself as a writer the last few years. Being creative as one gets older, he says, brings more enjoyment of life by putting us more in touch with our authentic selves as well as with the outside world.
And he wishes more people took that approach sooner.
“People need to adapt a creative, poetic way of living,” says Rivolta (www.pierorivolta.com), whose ninth and most recent book is Bridge Through The Stars: A Novel of Desire and Destiny. “That starts with what is inside of them and letting it out.
“Today, too many people don’t see too far away from their nose. Money has become too important. We need a poetic sense of life, following our intuition, nurturing our curiosity and engaging in the world around us. Let the mind wander and become absorbed in a vibrant, creative process, leading to discoveries that can influence your future or even humanity.”
Rivolta gives four reasons creativity can bring more happiness later in life:
- It drives brain growth. Research shows creativity fires neurons that creates connections in the brain, essentially making the brain grow as it gets older. And, Rivolta says, a mentally active person with an open, curious mind tends to stay inspired and be happier. “It’s exhilarating to keep our minds moving and adding to them,” Rivolta says. “And older people already have a vast warehouse of knowledge to share creatively.”
- It adds self-esteem. New creative outlets later in life can remove any identity crisis one is feeling in retirement. “You really need a sense of purpose as you get older with seemingly less to do,” Rivolta says. “Creatively doing things you always wanted to do gives you immense satisfaction and more happiness. It’s exciting; you’re finding new parts to yourself.”
- It expands your social world. Studies have shown many aging people feel isolated. Creative pursuits such as art classes are a great way to connect socially. “It’s so important in older age to connect with others and not go it alone,” Rivolta says. “And whether you’re sharing ideas, the gift of your talents or just time together, it makes for a much happier existence.”
- It reduces regrets. Some senior citizens harbor regrets, wondering what would have happened if they had tried something new. “Being creative is a way to somewhat make up for that, and feel the satisfaction of taking action like you always wanted to,” Rivolta says.
“Living a creative, poetic life,” Rivolta says, “makes you more fully experience the beauty of living, especially in later years. I’ve always had that and didn’t want to stop. People used to tell me I worked too much, but in reality I felt like I never worked because I enjoyed each of my jobs so much. That’s a great part about doing things that combine creativity and adventure.”
About Piero Rivolta
Piero Rivolta (www.pierorivolta.com), an award-winning poet and author, grew up in Milan, Italy in a family of automakers. He has made a career of successful reinvention based on creativity and passion for enhanced living. The leader of a successful car manufacturing company, he left Italy and moved to Sarasota, Fla., in 1980 with his wife Rachele, a painter. Rivolta has also been a residential and commercial builder, high-seas sailor and yacht producer. He recently published Bridge Through the Stars, his first novel since the publication of Journey Beyond 2012 and his Sarasota trilogy: Sunset in Sarasota, Alex and the Color of the Wind and The Castaway. Rivolta is also the author of four poetry/prose collections: Just One Scent: The Rest Is God, Nothing Is Without Future, Going By Sea and One Life, Many Lives.