Updated: Mar 23
What sounded like a fairy tale is actually backed by research
It sounded like a fairy-tale
Not long ago, I wrote about the fear that I’m running out of time. I’m in my sixties and know that the average life span of the American woman is 81.1 years old. The clock is ticking loudly, a ferocious reminder that my time on earth is limited and that I can’t waste any of it. I need to write. NOW.
That piece provoked a beautifully worded response from a fellow copywriter who works in the field of aeronautics and aviation. He proposed a theory that made me think of the proverbial “castles in the sky.” As lovely as it sounded, I was sure that his idea was nothing more than a hopeful thought, a wistful theory for creatives who pursue their passion.
He had obviously felt my passion and proposed this:
“I wonder sometimes, particularly now, after reading your post, if pursuing one’s dreams and goals is actually additive to life span. Not just adding to the perception of life lived fully, but the activation of some natural law that adds a measure of time between womb and tomb.
Perhaps there is a mystic math that returns a factor of Time spent by those devoted to creatively inspiring others. A sort of ROI on investments in humanity, intended or not.
If so, your chances are excellent to blow right by that average life span. You have chosen to write to live…” — Cam Potts
The Theory of Added Hours For Creatives
Isn’t it a wonderful thought that creatives would get added hours because they’re making an investment in humanity?
Don’t you just love the idea that people who live life pursuing their dreams might benefit by living life more fully AND by living a full life, longer?
My friend’s suggestion got me thinking…and the curse of a curious brain is that it never rests until it gets answers. Here’s a happy fact:
This theory is no fairy-tale.
Do creative people live longer?
A study by The Journal of Aging and Health showed that creative people deal better with stress. They often view difficulties as problem-solving challenges, and in searching their brain for answers, they develop stronger pathways between different areas of the brain. This increases “white matter” which supports the neurons and improves communication within the brain. Creative brains are often healthier in old age and improve with continued thought.
“Individuals high in creativity maintain the integrity of their neural networks even into old age” — Nicholas Turiano, University of Rochester Medical Center
The personality trait of openness increases the life-span of creative people
Openness is one of the five major personality traits. (The other four are extroversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.) Defined as the ability and willingness to accept novel ideas, openness also means having an agile mind that can leap from idea to idea, referred to as cognitive flexibility. Creativity requires the trait of openness.
… researchers found that only creativity — not intelligence or overall openness — decreased mortality risk.
Thinking creative thoughts, keeping pathways between different areas in the brain open, improves longevity.
Choosing to “Write to Live”
I choose to follow my passion. I choose to write. I choose to use my creativity in a way that makes my life feel fulfilled, no matter how much money I make. I write to live, and until now, I never dreamed that doing what I love was actually adding hours to my life. Who knew that meandering down those crazy mind-paths in my head might be giving me an extra year or two?
Maybe I’ll have enough time after all, and I’ll keep scribbling away in my not-so-fairy-tale-like existence for eons.
I’ll live happily ever after, dying at the age of 260 with a pen in my hand.