Researchers have long been studying the connection between health and the five major personality traits: agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism, openness and conscientiousness. American Scientist reports on a study published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Aging and Health, which reported that higher openness, which measures cognitive flexibility and the willingness to entertain novel ideas, predicts longer life. Creativity is associated with the personality trait of “openness”. It is this trait, creative thinking, that seems to reduce stress and keep the brain healthy. Other studies conducted last year have linked this trait with lower metabolic risk, higher self-rated health and more appropriate stress response.
The American Scientist reports in their September 2012 article, “The June study sought to determine whether specific aspects of openness better predicted survival rates than overall openness, using data on more than 1,000 older men collected between 1990 and 2008. The researchers found that only creativity—not intelligence or overall openness—decreased mortality risk. One possible reason creativity is protective of health is because it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain, says study author Nicholas Turiano, now at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Individuals high in creativity maintain the integrity of their neural networks even into old age,” Turiano says.”
The article goes on to say, “Turiano also cites creative people’s ability to handle stress—they tend not to get as easily flustered when faced with an emotional or physical hurdle. Stress is known to harm overall health, including cardiovascular, immune and cognitive systems. “Creative people may see stressors more as challenges that they can work to overcome rather than as stressful obstacles they can’t overcome,” Turiano says. Although studies thus far have looked at those who are naturally open-minded, the results suggest that practicing creative-thinking techniques could improve anyone’s health by lowering stress and exercising the brain.”
So, helping your child develop their creativity will not only help them become better students, problem-solvers, and better at their jobs in the future, but now you can even be helping to improve their health and live longer lives.