By Jackie Rainford Corcoran
Explore Big Sky Health Columnist

In addition to being a holistic health coach I’m also an artist and art teacher. Lately, I’ve been hosting art parties – “Canvas and Cocktail” type events – and after witnessing hundreds of people light up as they explore their canvas with brush strokes, I’ve been giving a lot of consideration to the real value of creativity.

Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

A study titled “Openness to Experience and Mortality of Men” was discussed in the August 2012 edition of “Scientific American.” The study’s author, Nicholas Turiano, stated that, “Individuals high in creativity maintain the integrity of their neural networks even into old age.” He added that stress, which can be harmful to our cardiovascular, immune and cognitive systems, is reduced in creative thinkers.

When we’re in our creative groove, time seems to stand still and self-consciousness falls away. It’s very similar to how meditation focuses the mind. This is evident at certain moments during art parties when a room full of 30 people becomes Zen-like in its in quiet purposefulness. Since meditation and creativity can bring us to a similar place, perhaps their health benefits overlap for similar reasons.

But beyond health, honing your creative skills is good for you bottom line.

While introducing the iPad 2 to the world in 2011, Apple’s then CEO Steve Jobs said, “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

Richard Florida, an American economist and author of “The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life,” writes that “…human creativity is the ultimate economic resource.” According to Florida and other economists, we are in the “post-industrial age,” and the workforce now relies heavily on creative thinkers.

So how do we get into this creative zone if our jobs and education don’t require it? First, discover what truly motivates you. Is it playing an instrument, wood working or writing poetry? If you’re passionate about something, you’re more likely to pursue it, take risks and stick with it.

Second, cultivate personality traits such as curiosity, persistence and humbleness. They allow you to have the necessary openness that creative thinking requires.

Third, and perhaps most important, check-in with your inner critic. If you have a vicious voice that tells you to hang it up before you even begin, this is a great opportunity for self-exploration, self-love and self-acceptance.

That critic is your ego trying to protect you from failing or looking foolish. Or perhaps it’s not even your own voice but judgment passed on from someone else in your life like a family member or friend. Let it go and grow. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at, or find more at