Creativity can bring a lot of joy into our lives — if we let it. As we get older, unfortunately, many of us leave our favorite activities behind, forget to play and instead go through the motions. Wake up. Go to work. Run errands. Come home. Have dinner. Watch T.V. Go to bed. Rinse. Repeat.
In The Book of Doing: Everyday Activities to Unlock Your Creativity and Joy, Allison Arden, publisher of Advertising Age, shares a slew of fun and playful ideas to reignite our creativity. More than that, her book shows us how to create and find joy in our everyday lives.
So what is “doing”? According to Arden, it’s anything and everything from creating, making, helping, experimenting, drawing, reading, playing, acting, cooking, tasting, celebrating and loving.
Here are 10 of my favorite ideas from her book. I hope you’ll try them!
1. Engage in your favorite activities as a child.
List your top three activities when you were a kid, and start doing them. Not only does this bring more joy and play into your life, but you never know the doors it might open. Arden’s husband started playing the drums again — after a 20-year break! He joined a band and became friends with the bass player, which led to a collaboration and an entirely new career, which makes him happier.
2. Sketch your everyday.
Sketch a picture of a person or object every day. As Arden writes, “Sit still for longer than you have in a while, and see something from a new perspective.”
3. Train for a “something-a-thon.”
This could be anything from a marathon to a bike-a-thon to a bowl-a-thon, Arden says. Today, Arden runs half and full marathons, which help her feel empowered. But years ago, she couldn’t run a mile. The key is to start slow. For instance, if you’re running, she suggests starting with 10 minutes and increasing five minutes every time.
4. Construct something from natural materials.
According to Arden, you don’t need to buy new supplies; just use the ones you already have to make anything from a snowman to a sandcastle to a building made from sticks.
5. Make a list of three goals on your birthday.
Think about what you’d like to accomplish and write it down. Then give the paper to a friend and ask them to put your list in your birthday card the following year. You’ll get to see what you’ve accomplished or assess what stopped you from achieving your goals. (Maybe your goals changed or maybe you need to overcome certain obstacles.)
6. “Learn the evolution of something that interests you.”
Arden suggests asking yourself the following questions about that topic:
- Where did it start?
- How did it start and why?
- What did it become?
- What changed?
- What should it be next?
7. Create a new tradition.
Arden invented the tradition of “Bloodies at the Gate.” Every time she and a friend have to travel for business, they have a Bloody Mary at the airport before their flight. They’ve even inspired others, who’ll send them pictures of themselves enjoying their preflight cocktails.
8. Read biographies of people who’ve inspired you. Arden spent an entire year reading biographies, which she found incredibly informative and eye-opening. These are a few she suggests:
- Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
- The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill by William Manchester
- John Adams by David McCullough
9. Talk to someone you’ve known a long time about a new topic.
A few suggestions from Arden: “Tell me a story I’ve never heard before or a story you’ve never told anyone. Who [do] you most admire and why? What is your favorite dessert? What was the best thing your parents ever taught you?”
Be sure to record their responses. (This is also a great way to learn more about your family history. Recently I wrote a post honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day on my personal blog. I talked to both my mom and aunt to get the details. It was a lot to take in, but I’m so glad to know more. Talking and writing about these stories ensures that they never die.)
10. Go back and read your favorite stories as a child.
As Arden says, there are many powerful messages in children’s stories that probably just went over our heads when we were young. She suggests:
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Winne-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
- Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie
- Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
Arden’s The Book of Doing reminds us that we can create our joy every day. Nothing is too frivolous or too silly or too young. As she says, rediscovering our passions and enjoyable pursuits helps us connect with the world in a powerful and positive way.
Learn more about Allison Arden at bookofdoing.com.