How to Find Creative Inspiration from Ordinary Happy Moments

Happiness lessons from a beloved cartoonist

Famous cartoonist Charles Schultz celebrated ordinary moments. (Photo courtesy Orange County Archives)

If you live each day with a sense of wonder, extraordinary ideas will come to you in the midst of ordinary life. You’ll discover that creativity will flow through your life — and that will make you happy. “Happiness is a warm puppy,” the beloved Peanuts comics cartoonist Charles Schultz famously said. That simple yet profound statement evokes the joy that comes from everyday experiences. Ordinary happy moments inspired Schultz’s creativity, and the creative ideas he communicated to others made them happy — illustrating the beautiful cycle of creativity and happiness at work.

I visited the Charles M. Schultz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California to learn about this cultural icon’s creative process. That process was surprisingly ordinary.

Day after day, Schultz (who went by his nickname, “Sparky”) would follow the same routine of working in his studio in the morning, eating lunch at an ice skating rink he had built for the community (he always had a tuna sandwich and sat at the same table), then returning to work in his studio during the afternoon until he was satisfied that he had produced something humorous and thought-provoking for the Peanuts comic strip.

Sparky rarely traveled or did anything else that would take him away from his daily routine. How boring! I thought at first (especially because I love to travel and find that it always ignites my own creativity). But just as everyone has a unique personality, everyone has a distinctive creative process that works best for him or her. “I have the feeling that working in the same room is the only guarantee of keeping going,” Sparky once commented about his own creative process. “Somehow, a change of scenery makes working more difficult, but sitting down in the same place each day turns on the creativity.”

Peanuts masterfully depicted mundane moments in the lives of children to whom people could easily relate. “Most of the ideas I get are just sitting down here at the drawing board merely doodling,” Sparky revealed. Just by showing up and paying attention to the ordinary moments of his day, Sparky discovered extraordinary ideas that fueled the world’s most popular comic strip for half a century.

Your ordinary life contains countless extraordinary experiences that can spark flames of joy and creativity within you. Finding those experiences involves paying attention and appreciating the wonder of what you discover. One way to find something wonderful is to pray, as Sparky did regularly. His faith inspired him to seek out joyful experiences. Whatever way of looking for joy works best for you, just start your search. Even the process of seeking can bring you happiness.

You’re bound to think of good creative ideas when you’re happy. So let the ideas flow, and act on them in order to spread the joy to others. As Sparky advised aspiring cartoonists: “Draw from your own personality and experience.” Whether or not you’re a famous artist, your ideas matter. Express your ideas in your own unique way so they can help make the world a more joyful place!

Whitney Hopler works as Communications Coordinator at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being and has written for many media organizations, from About.com to the Washington Post. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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