Cultivating Creativity and Joy - A conversation with Alex Harper

Cultivating Creativity and Joy - A conversation with Alex Harper

Hey! It's Xi here, Founder of Sonderlier®

You may already know that I created Sonderlier out of the believe that fashion and beauty is for the everyday, and not just special occasions.

And with this belief, I often think about how we can help you introducing more beauty and joy to your everyday life.

One answer that has come up often is all about coming back to our nature - being curious, being creative and rediscovering that childlike wonder.

So today, I chat with my friend Alex Harper - Founder of Women of Culture about how we can become more creative and joyful in our everyday life. 

We each shared our own processes and tips that anyone can easily adapt for their own lifestyle. Here's the interview.

Xi: Hi Alex, so great to have you here! I’m really excited to chat with you about creativity and joy. I know a lot of us want to be more creative, but at the same time find it really difficult to accomplish in real life because we constantly feel the pull of life’s responsibilities. As someone who’s dedicated to helping women cultivate more creativity and joy through art, have you seen this struggle? What’s your take on it?

Alex: Absolutely, I see it a lot. Somewhere along the road to adulthood, most of us received the message that our creativity was wrong, useless or unimportant. It seems that, as our responsibilities and obligations increase, our creativity (and therefore capacity for inspiration and joy) decreases. Yet, I believe we all have the capacity for creativity and that we were born creative! We always have the ability to tap back into it - even if just for a few minutes.

Xi: That’s so spot on. Growing up, I remember receiving implicit and explicit messages that being creative equals irresponsibility. And that couldn’t have been more wrong! I totally agree with you that we naturally relish being creative and it’s a great source of joy - just think of that joy of exploring the world when we were children. Yet over time we become burdened by these messages and lose that childlike wonder. But I agree with you that we don’t have to! I believe no matter whether we are in a “creative” profession or not, finding ways to exercise creativity is so important and would help us become happier people. Why don’t we talk about some practical ways that have helped us become more creative? Can you share some specific things that you like to do to cultivate creativity in your everyday life?

Alex: Yes! I’m more than happy to share three things I do to feel more connected to myself and my innate creativity that I think anyone can practice everyday:

First, slow down and take time to notice the beauty all around you. Especially if you are feeling stressed or anxious, take 5-10 minutes to just be in the moment. Tap into the simple beauty in even the most mundane, everyday things around you. Being in nature can help make this easier - notice the birds chirping, the wind in the trees, the smell of fresh air. But even at home, you can challenge yourself to find beauty in your favorite chair, the comfort of your bed, the softness of your linens, etc.

Second, cultivate gratitude and appreciation for those things - especially the ones you take for granted. It may sound silly, but can you be grateful to your favorite chair for holding you up, your bed for providing you with a good night’s sleep and your linens for keeping you warm? Cultivating gratitude helps us feel inspired, alive and therefore more creative. Artists are experts in bringing out and calling attention to the things the rest of us hardly even notice.

Finally, tap into your imagination and let it run wild! Does that chair have a personality - perhaps you can imagine it having a name and getting tired of holding you up. Channel some of the characters from your favorite Disney classics, like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty & the Beast. Can you imagine what, for example, your bed would say if it could talk to you? Or the birds and trees outside? We all imagined these sorts of things when we were kids and have the capacity to imagine them now, if we allow ourselves to. 

I recommend taking these three steps at some point every day, even if while in the car, doing the dishes or walking your dog. Give yourself permission to experiment and see what inspiration, joy and happiness arises as a result!

Xi: These are such great tips! Giving everyday objects a personality and imagining their conversations? Brilliant! I will be trying that out myself! To add to what you’ve said, I find that for me, being hands-on makes creativity more tangible. And it doesn’t need to be as evolved as completing an oil painting. There are many things in our everyday life that we already do and that I’ve found easy and fun to add a creative spin to. So for those who are more hands-on like me, here are a couple of things I’d recommend to try:

One, you can find new ways to wear your clothes. We can easily get into a dressing rut and become bored of our clothes. Next time you get dressed, think: Can you button it differently? Can you add a belt? Or tie a knot somewhere? Or wear it upside-down? Can you pair a piece with something you haven’t done before? Or wear a shirt as outerwear or underlayer? The possibilities are endless - experiment and have fun!

capsule wardrobe, versatile clothes, multiple ways to wear

Two, you can switch up a tiny part of your routine. Is there a new dish you can try to make, or can you change a part of the recipe? If you take a walk daily, is there a different route you can take? Sometimes even reversing the direction can give you a completely new view. When you go to the grocery store, pick up something you have never tried before. Creating a newness will cultivate our sense of wonder and exploration, and creativity naturally follows. 

I 100% agree with you that the important thing is to practice a little bit of creativity everyday. It’s like a muscle, the more you practice, the better you’ll be at it. 

Alex: Totally! I love how practical your tips are - such fun ways to be creative! I get into a dressing rut from time to time also, especially since the pandemic. What a great place to get creative! I don’t even need to buy new clothes!

Xi: Haha exactly! Oh and I think another point is to create the right conditions for creativity. Being uncomfortable or anxious is a creativity killer. So wear comfortable clothes, make your home comfortable, go into nature, practice meditation and breathing exercises to eliminate discomfort and anxiety will set the right conditions to make creativity easy.

Alex: Can’t agree more!

Xi: Thank you so much for chatting with me and sharing your insight with us! Hope these tip will be helpful to our readers to be more creative and more joyful every single day!


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