“It’s your internal motivation that opens the creative spigot.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 105
Those of us who create day after day know that things don’t always go smoothly.
Sometimes our work flows; other times difficulties slow us down.
But whether we deal with good days or not, one simple practice helps keep our creativity rolling: an inner smile.
The Power of an Inner Smile
Researchers are proving that when we reinforce positive thoughts, our creative powers ignite.
See my post Positivity for a look at one researcher’s work; also check out the Science News article, “Positive Mood Allows Brain to Think More Creatively.”
How do we generate positive thoughts? Aside from using affirmations, one gentle technique that I’ve taught and employed for years is to uphold an inner smile.
I’ve learned that when we adopt an inner smile, we support a range of creativity-boosting habits such as these five:
An inner smile activates our sense of interest, motivating us to focus on the task at hand.
Smiling inwardly helps us trust in our resources and tackle problems with confidence.
Carrying an inner smile quells worries, allowing our best selves to emerge, even in high-pressure situations.
Our positive mindset mobilizes us to accept setbacks as steps on the path of growth and discovery.
With shining eyes, we appreciate the opportunities before us, especially when we remember that every moment of our lives is miraculous.
See The Musician’s Way for diverse strategies that infuse music making with wonder and transcendence.
10 Affirmation That Energize Music Practice
The Abundance Mentality
The Growth Mindset
The Self-Motivated Musician
© 2013 Gerald Klickstein
Photo © FWStudio, licensed from Shutterstock.com
I am glad that I came across your book The Musicians Way and visited this website. Since the age of 12yrs old I learned how to play the saxophone (tenor) and learned music theory from my music teacher, who played with greats musicians in the 1940 – 60’s. However, since he passed on during my teenage years and I never stuck with it when I enter high school.
After my divorce in 2007, I purchase a cheap horn and began playing again (I didn’t sound good). Subsequently, I stuck with it and my tone came back, just last year I took my horn to show it off at a restaurant to some friends and ended up playing along side a lone singer.
According to the singer he loved how I sound and how it moved the people. This made me feel great inside that we exchanged contact information (always carry pen and paper or business card). Since that day we have met up and have been practicing some songs.
It turned out he needed a saxophone player to go along with his keyboard playing and singing.
So, in a nut shell smiling does help over come hopeless moments like the one I had.
I m still reading through the book looking and learning for some more helpful advise in my saxophone playing.
Hi Luis – Thanks for sharing your inspiring story! I hope you’ll stop by often.
Such simple, yet highly practical advice. The “inner smile” you speak of cultivates perhaps the most important state of mind: gratitude. As an artist, when I feel thankful for what I have (for being able to study, play, teach, and yes, even struggle with music), I’m so much more able to trust what comes forth to me from my muse, and creation seems to flow easily. Thanks for this reminder.
Hi Bill – Thanks for the positive feedback and the nod to the importance of gratitude. I’m grateful for your contributions!
Ive been really depressed the last 6 months and i cant help but feel like its hurting my creativity.Making music has just been frustrating and i havent actually finished a track for quite some time now which is stressing me out even more.Thank you for writing this article im starting to realize why im having so many problems getting anything done. Nice blog by the way 😉
Hi Dino – I appreciate you sharing your story. Many creative people go through similar episodes. Eric Maisel’s book The Van Gogh Blues describes why creative people often wrestle with depression and offers proven strategies to triumph over depression. You can preview it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/NoxC1p
This is a very timely article for me to read. For the past several years, I’ve been working diligently on being intentionally grateful and saying positive affirmations. As I write this, I’m smiling inside.
Thanks for reinforcing the importance of positive thinking.
Hi Mike. Thanks for sharing – your positive words provide a shining example that uplifts us all!