Why You Need Creativity (Especially as You Age)

Why You Need Creativity (Especially as You Age)

You’re sitting there ruminating on what brings you the most joy in life. 


After all, you’ve had the extra time and space available (during social distancing, anyway) to reflect on such things. 


Some questions that come to mind:


  • What’s my plan for the next couple decades?
  • What should I be doing?
  • What makes me feel accomplished?
  • How do I find more purpose?
  • And what about clarity – how do I find that?


If you’re pondering topics like this, that’s a good thing. It means you’re curious and you want to be fulfilled. 


Even if you don’t have a clear path to finding clarity, one thing is certain: Creativity helps you get there.


And by “there” I mean living a purposeful retirement lifestyle that’s healthy, active and engaged. 


I put together five science-backed reasons why you need creativity in your life, to urge you to take action and inject creativity into your daily life.


But first, let’s briefly define creativity, so we’re on the same page.


What is creativity?

Creativity is how you turn new and imaginative ideas into reality. 


To dig a little deeper, creativity is when you look at the world in new and different ways. It’s a way to find hidden patterns and put two things together that aren’t normally correlated. 


And what about the output? 


While creative ideas are known to emerge in hobbies, careers and a variety of works, they can exist anywhere in your life and take on virtually any format.  


Does creativity decline as you age? (Hint: not a chance)

One of the seven myths about aging that’s floating out there is:


“Aging makes you less adventurous and less creative.”


Let’s quickly debunk it, so we’re clear:


You have full control over how adventurous and creative you can be, no matter how old or young you are. 


Just like your brain plasticity, your level of creativity is something that you can exercise and practice. In the same “use it or lose it” fashion that your neuroplasticity exists, creativity is not something that simply declines with age.


your brain was designed for lifelong learning and growth
Maintain your brain, just like you would any other muscle in your body


The reason why the stereotype of “being less creative as you grow older” exists is largely due to society teaching us to not be creative – in a formalized way.


Hear me out. 


A classic study by George Land, known as his Creativity Test, revealed astounding results after testing the creativity of 1,600 children at ages 3-5, then again at age 10 and a final time at age 15.


Ready for the results?


George found the percentage of people who scored at the “genius level” of creativity were:


  • Amongst 5-year-olds: 98%
  • Amongst 10-year-olds: 30%
  • Amongst 15-year-olds: 12%
  • Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%


George’s conclusion: 


“Non-creative behavior is learned.”


creativity scores at genius level for different age groups
George Land’s Creativity Test concludes that non-creative behavior is learned. Source: Idea To Value


The good news: creative behavior can be taught and learned.


And if we’re talking creative output, there’s no age cap to the creative contributions that you gift to the world.


It’s just a matter of when you decide to start, peak and contribute your creative ideas – which can be at virtually any age. 


Naturally, most of your creative contributions are likely to happen at the peak of your creative efforts and productivity level. 


Which, again, can be at any stage in life. In fact, according to a psychologist, Dean Keith Simonton of UC Davis:


“Some late bloomers do not truly hit their stride until their 60s or 70s. They often drudged away in uninspiring jobs for decades before discovering their true passion.”


For inspiring examples, check out these older adults with impressive creative years under their belt:


late bloomers who have accomplished a feat in old age and impressive years


  • Gladys Burrill – after surviving cancer, Gladys ran her first marathon at age 86 and became famous after finishing the Honolulu Marathon at age 92
  • George Blair – famous for his extreme barefoot water skiing, George didn’t learn how to water ski until he was in his 40s and continued to be creative with the sport until age 92
  • Annie Leibovitz – while Annie’s renown creative career extends back before she photographed John Lennon the day he was assassinated, she is still practicing creativity today and teaches an online photography class


And these are just a few amazing creative models to look to for inspiration. 


I can assure you there are countless creative heroes and/or late bloomers who contribute to the betterment of society (in massive ways) deep into their golden years. 


(In fact, I’ve had the great privilege of working with several of them in my Rewire My Retirement program. If you’re interested in seeing where your creativity can take you, just book a free 1-on-1 breakthrough session with me to see if you’re a good fit for joining the program.)


Basically, the moral here is creativity does not shrink as you age. 


The truth?


Whether the culprit is our education or corporate system, your natural-born creativity is likely something you’ve suppressed for decades (yes, far too long).


So, without further ado, here are five reasons why you need to relearn how to be creative and unleash your natural inclination ASAP.


5 Reasons why you need creativity in your life

Reason #1: Being creative boosts your brain health

The first reason why you need to practice being creative as often as possible is it does wonders for your brain plasticity. 




The mere definition of creativity includes thinking in new ways, which means you’re literally creating new neural pathways in your brain as you find different patterns and ways of looking at life. 


What’s more, a study of 163 Australians found that while you’re engaging in creative tasks your brain engages multiple brain networks and undergoes divergent thinking – a stark difference in the location of your brain activity compared to when you’re not engaging in creative tasks.


brain creativity networks and activity
Creative tasks engage your brain in a completely different way than non-creative tasks. Source: Psychology Today


And divergent thinking is a profound way to land yourself in new growth experiences, which are crucial to stimulating your brain and increasing its plasticity.


So, if you want to protect against cognitive decline (who doesn’t?), being creative is one way to boost your neuroplasticity. 


Not to mention, by stimulating your interests and pursuing your passions (which happens when unleashing your creativity), you become you less bored – and less boring. 


While our culture may be one of the glaring reasons why older people are considered boring, sadly, settling for stagnancy is a real thing.


And when you’re living a sedentary life from the comfort of your couch (or favorite lounge chair), chances are you’re susceptible to turning your brain to mush, so to speak. 


All this to say, being creative stimulates your brain in the best way possible and leads to better cognitive health and a more robust lifestyle.


Reason #2: Creative thinking reduces stress and anxiety 

Another reason why you need to be creative is it reduces your stress level and decreases your anxiety. 


A study authored by Heather Stuckey (from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine) and Jeremy Nobel (from Harvard School of Public Health) revealed there are many benefits of art that enhance your health and wellness. 


More specifically, four types of creative engagement – music, visual art, movement-based creative expression and expressive writing – can decrease anxiety, stress and mood disturbances.


Another way creativity affects your stress and anxiety levels is in how you deal with stressors.


It goes without saying that stress has only harmful effects on your health, from mental and cognitive to immune and cardiovascular issues.


If you’re a creative person, not only can you reduce your stress and anxiety through creativity, but you’re also more likely to see a stressor as a challenge to overcome rather than an obstacle that you can’t.


Which makes sense because, according to a LinkedIn Learning study, in the business world, creativity is the most important skill that companies seek and need the most because it leads to creative problem-solving. 


And as LinkedIn Learning instructor Stefan Mumaw, who published six books about creativity, including his most recent work, Creative Boot Camp, defines it:


“Creativity is problem-solving with relevance and novelty.”


creative bootcamp
Creative Boot Camp by Stefan Mumaw. Source: Amazon


Regardless of whether you’re in or out of the business world, creativity helps you overcome difficulty. As the author of A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger, puts it:


“Creativity has this amazing power to give you renewed enthusiasm and energy – even in the most difficult circumstances.”


a more beautiful question by warren berger
A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. Source: Amazon


So, if you’re in a stressful or difficult situation, your creativity can give you the zest you need to overcome it. 


Reason #3: Creativity gives you a sense of purpose

A third reason why it’s vital to tap the power of creativity is it provides you with fulfillment and a sense of purpose. 


Renowned psychologist and author of Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, claims:


“Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives … most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity … [and] when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”


creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Source: Amazon


And one of my all-time favorite creators and author of Creative Calling, Chase Jarvis, declares:


“Creativity is a force inside every person that, when unleashed, transforms our lives and delivers vitality to everything we do. Left unexpressed, it can be a poison in your life leading to unhappiness, unfulfillment, and that feeling there is something missing.”


creative calling by chase jarvis
Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis


As someone who’s contributed a career’s worth of vibrant world-class photography, plus one of the world’s largest online education platforms, Creative Live, Chase has creative experience worth gleaning from.  


Reason #4: Being creative makes you live longer

Another reason why I’m encouraging you to be creative is it lengthens your life span.


Naturally, there’s research to back this up: 


A study that followed over 1,000 older men collected data for an 18-year span and found that creativity to be the only factor in the study that decreased mortality risk.


One theory explaining why is that it draws on a range of neural networks in your brain, which helps you age successfully (aka Reason #1).


For instance, if you play a musical instrument, it’s like a full-body brain workout that engages auditory, visual and motor skills, which produces long-term positive effects.


cartoon representing how music impacts the brain
It’s a full-brain workout when you play music. Source: TED


And according to Nicholas Turiano, who’s an author of the study:


“Keeping the brain healthy may be one of the most important aspects of aging successfully – a fact shown by creative persons living longer in our study.”  


On top of that, the National Endowment for the Arts and George Washington University co-published a Creativity and Aging Study that divulged, older adults who participate in creative cultural programs experienced:


  • Better health, fewer doctor visits and less medication usage
  • More positive responses to mental health measures
  • More involvement in overall activities


To sum it up: Creative people tend to have better mental and overall health, more engagement and, ultimately, extended longevity.


Reason #5: Creativity opens you up… to everything exciting

The final reason why creativity is a must in your life is it opens the door to so many exciting opportunities for you that are key to living a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.


More specifically, creativity:


  • Opens up your mind
  • Gives you new growth experiences
  • Gives you new meaningful relationships


Here’s the relevant domino effect: 


By tapping into creative thinking, you’re more open to new ideas, new experiences, and meeting new people who also crave interesting, fulfilling and passionate lifestyles.


In a nutshell, creativity stimulates your life in the best way possible.


It’s time to get excited about bringing more creativity into your life.


Your creativity is calling your name

It’s time to pay heed to your natural-born inclination to be creative. Do it for your health, your mental stimulation level and your sense of purpose. 


And if you’re ready to take action, check out these 5 ways to be creative as an older adult.


As for the benefits of creativity, here’s the short and skinny:


  • Creativity is the way to make your innovative ideas, including your dreams, come to fruition. 
  • Creativity is something you’ve likely been suppressing for too many years because you’ve been encouraged to be non-creative. 
  • Creativity is also something that’s naturally within you and it certainly doesn’t decline as you age. 
  • There are five big reasons why you need creativity.
  • #1. Creativity increases your brain plasticity.
  • #2. Creativity decreases your stress and anxiety levels.
  • #3. Creativity fulfills you and gives you more purpose.
  • #4. Creativity increases your lifespan.
  • #5. Creativity opens your mind to new and exciting growth experiences.


Here’s to unleashing your creativity and transforming your life to the one you dream of.


(And if you want a proven system for transforming your life, plus an accountability partner standing behind you, I’m here for you.)

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portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach
Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion. Through her signature program Rewire My Retirement, she helps people achieve their best life across the 5 Rings of Retirement, which covers topics Growth, Community, Health, Giving Back, and Finance.

Cyn combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.

portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach

Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion (beyond the stereotypical financial planning side of retirement). 

She combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.