to live a creative life

Before my research on wholeheartedness (and before the 2007 breakdown spiritual awakening), I was completely disconnected from my creativity. My disconnection took the form of judgment, resentment, and fear:

“A-R-T – how nice. I have a J-O-B – I’m doing real work.” 

“I’m not the creative type.” 

“Spending time creating is self-indulgent.” 

Behind all of these emotions was disconnection. I had the creativity scars that many of us have; the ones that come from not being able to draw a still life in middle school and being told that I better stick with writing and reading.

Today, I’m reconnected with my creativity and it’s transforming every part of my life. Creativity brings me joy, helps me stay more grateful, calms me down, and inspires me. It helps me keep my perfectionism in check and has become a powerful way to connect with my family. 

In The Gifts of Imperfection, I summarize what I learned from the world of Wholehearted living and loving:

1. “I’m not very creative” doesn’t work. There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.

2. The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.

3. If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. Cook, write, draw, doodle, paint, scrapbook, take pictures, collage, knit, rebuild an engine, sculpt, dance, decorate, act, sing—it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.

I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned and for all of you who are creating and sharing your work with the world. 

I’m celebrating creativity today with a giveway of this great poster by Amanda Cherie. 

Just leave your name in the comment section and I’ll pick a winner on Thursday! 


Leave a Comment

  1. Tricia Wiseman

    The poster is amazing, but your book "The Gifts of Imperfection" is really amazing. I was going through a period of feeling like I needed to be "perfect", and my friend who is in school to be a marriage therapist had given me your book for my birthday. I began reading it this weekend, and I am already half way done. It has been inspiring and helping me feel free to be who I am.

    I look forward to checking out your other books.


  2. As a food addiction therapist, I make people make creative images of their disease and their imagined wellness. In the last 2 years I have found that creativity, authenticity and vulnerability are very tied up in brain chemistry. As we are able to balance their brain chemistry, the willingness and ability to be vulnerable, authentic and creative blossoms in people that thought they simply didn't have it and turns into true healing forces.
    Thank you for your research and permission to be a scientist sage!

  3. Shayla

    What a wonderful reminder!

  4. Robyn

    As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.

    I LOVE those words. I started my own blog in late February to engage myself in creativity and positive energy. It is working well for me!

  5. Chan

    'wholehearted love even there's no garantee. '

  6. Carl Josefsson

    thanks for giving me inspiration in my transition into vulnerability

    Carl from Sweden

  7. Love the post. I am creative; I always have been and always will be. In fact I get scared when I am not being creative: when the dreams don't come, or the words won’t flow, or I go a week without creatively photographing someone. I love how encouraging your posts are. Anyone can sing, anyone can draw, and anyone can be creative! Some are better than others; some creativity comes easier to one person verses the next but I really believe that creativity hits people in different ways. We each need to find our own way, commit to it fully and face resistance and not accept failure as an option. The only way to fail is not to begin.

  8. Nandita

    "If we want to make meaning, we need to make art. "
    How true.

  9. Becca Wallig

    I'm slowly working my way through "The Gifts of Imperfection" after reading your first book. Oddly enough, being in college, the supposed mother source of learning, is a place that has really killed my creativity. Thanks for all your honesty about perfectionism–it gives me hope that I can work through it too.

  10. Love the inspiration to tap into something that we all have, even if we were raised to believe it was limited to certain things. Creativity is simply self-expression is any form we wish to use. I love your challenge via the poster's words that we have to let go of the fear that somehow our choice or mode of expression is wrong. – Dr. Shannon Reece

  11. Karne

    I love your post. Food for thought! Thank you!!

  12. Davina

    Your work is inspirational to me!

  13. Linda Hummel

    Those words are it in a nutshell! Just came across your work today for the first time, Brene, and looking forward to reading your books. Laughed out loud often in recognition at the TED video. Inspired, encouraged and enlivened. Thank you.

  14. Lindsay

    You probably already picked a winner, but I'm posting anyway. I like the poster. I've realized the truth of that thought in recent months. I had a baby 11 months ago and its a struggle to be creative in the way I want – music and photography and writing- but it is very inspiring and rewarding to have creative moments with my daughter. I hope that I can raise her to express creativity and enjoy the works of her own hands/voice.

  15. Beth

    I need to re read Gifts… I would love this poster

  16. Linny

    Am I too late!?! Say, why no. You're right on time. 🙂

  17. Tiffany Courtnage

    Love this blog post today! Thanks,

  18. Larry Holden

    I was able to see you speak in Austin recently with the pastoral care department @ the hospital where I am a chaplain. Your work is refreshing, encouraging, freeing. Thanks! Oh yea, I like the poster too. When I'm through with "The Gifts of Imperfection," I'll start the second one. Thanks for being real and vulnerable.

  19. Alison Shumaker

    I'm new to you and found you via The Pioneer Woman site! Thank you for what you do!

  20. I was 'broken open' in 2009, and life is glorious! I'm a huge fan of your work, and can relate to so, so much. Thank you for being honest…and vulnerable…and real. You're a true gift. This post is a great reminder to us all; I'm now inspired to go make something! thank you, thank you

  21. Sandy

    I think we often define creativity too narrowly: creativity can include simply finding a new way to get someplace rather than traveling the familiar path. (OK, this thought comes from my adventure today in getting to my lunch date: despite creating a Google map, I still took the wrong exit and had to work my way back — and then turn around again because I missed the highway entrance. But it was so much more creative and adventurous than if I had done it "right" the first time!)