Woman walking companionably with a boar through a canopy of trees.

A few years ago I decided to write an allegorical book about a lost woman and a friendly boar. If you’re not a writer, you may not realize how odd this sounded to my agent, editors, and publishers. 

“An allegory?” they said. My proposed book wasn’t just outside my usual genre, it wasn’t in any genre at all.

“A boar?” they said. People can be so judgmental of tusked animals.

“But why?” they said. I was an established self-help author. Why throw away my time and energy on a book so odd no one would even know where to shelve it?

“No reason,” I said. 

It was true, at least in the context of those conversations. I actually did have a reason for writing Diana, Herself. Here is my reason: I wanted to. 

Maybe it’s my world-class case of ADHD, which I’ve been told gives me pathologically “interest-based attention.” This means I pay attention to things that interest me. Pathologically.

“Wait,” I said to the neurologist who first diagnosed me. “How is that pathological? Why do most people pay attention to things?”

“Because it’s optimal,” he told me. “Because it lets them get done what needs to be done.”

My ADHD may be a “disorder” in a society where everything is about making money, but I wouldn’t give it up if I could. After thirty years of coaching, I know that the first thing most people ask about any activity is, “Will it sell?” The second question is “Will it sell?” The third question is, “Will it sell?” And so on, indefinitely. In our culture, many people don’t see any other question worth asking. 

I, on the other hand, ask questions we’re supposed to leave behind after preschool. Does an idea feel fun? Will I learn from it? Does it light up my imagination? Does it make me laugh, or cry in a good way, satisfy my mind, heart, body, and soul?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” then count me in.

So I wrote Diana, Herself, and despite the lack of a big publisher’s marketing machine, quite a few people read it. Then I read it aloud for the audiobook version, which is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because, unlike reading a self-help book, it required voice acting.  Acting. I can’t do acting! 

But damn, I had a great time.

A few days ago I sent in the manuscript for my latest book, which will be published in a few months. It’s called Beyond Anxiety: Curiosity, Creativity, and Finding Your Life’s Purpose. It’s right down the center of my genre, which pleases my agent, editors, etc.. And the research I did in order to write it showed me why creating just for the joy of it—for no reason, according to parts of our culture—is well worth doing. 

So, just in case you’re incubating an odd idea you haven’t let yourself finish, here are some reasons to go ahead and create it. And it turns out that creating it for no reason—in other words, not doing it for the money—will greatly enhance all these outcomes…

When we create, we tap into the bliss of the present moment.

To whip up anything original, whether it’s a bedtime story, a newfangled recipe, a dance move, a poem, or an epic opera, we have to call on the right half of our brains, which specializes in making unfamiliar connections and leaps of insight. The whole brain is active almost all the time, but creativity skews our attention to that right hemisphere. 

When this happens—when our attention activates our right hemispheres—we enter a different world. Time seems to disappear. We come home to the eternal present moment, the place neuroscientists and philosophers tell us is optimal for happiness. It may not give you the cash to go on a vacation to a tropical paradise, but the act of creating itself will take you to paradise inside your own head.

When we create, our mental health improves.

Creativity is like a psychoactive wonder drug. Piles of research show that creative actions reduce anxiety, make us think more clearly, and stave off dementia. In one study, researchers found that when adults spent just a few minutes coloring, their heart rate, respiration, and skin conductance came close to the levels achieved in deep meditation. If you’re after enlightenment, instead of moving to a cave in Tibet, maybe buy some really good crayons.

When we create, we get younger.

Scientists used to think that children have tons of something called “fluid intelligence,” which is replaced over time by “crystalized intelligence.” This is why anyone over fifty needs a resident six-year-old as a technology consultant. Old dogs can’t learn new tricks, right? 


It turns out that if we continue to give ourselves creative challenges, like solving puzzles or playing complex games, we gain crystallized intelligence while maintaining the fluid intelligence we had as children. Push past the reluctance to do something challenging “for no reason,” and you can learn as fast as a kid while sustaining the wisdom of age.

When we create, abundance finds us in odd ways.

I’ve had several joyless jobs in my life, and I was paid for them. Sometimes. But when I create purely for the joy of it, not expecting payment, something weird happens. It’s as if I’m baking cookies, and people sniff them out and want to buy them.

I’m beyond grateful that this has happened for much of my writing. It’s also how I started life coaching, and then training coaches. I never set out to do any of these things as a career. I did them for no reason—that is, for pure creative joy—and often found abundance as a kind of byproduct.

When we create, we—and others—discover who we really are.

Creativity is always a way of showing who we really are. And when someone “gets” our creations, it’s a shortcut to soulmates, whether in romance or friendship. 

You don’t have to write a book to test this. If you’re feeling brave try this: create a playlist of your favorite songs, put it out on social media, and ask anyone who loves that list to post a comment. You’ll find friends you never knew you had, people whose creative essence aligns with yours. (The same goes for your favorite paintings, movies, books, or any other mode of creative expression.)

When we create, we join with the universal force of creation.

I believe that we are creative beings because we exist in a creative universe, and that our essential nature is a continuation of the forces that created us all. This may sound woo-woo (it is) but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. When we engage our creativity enough for time to disappear, our sense of being small and isolated vanishes as well. There’s a sense of dissolving into a vast creative force, joining with everything ever created, with the intelligence of nature. 

We have to create pretty hard for this to happen, and it’s so worth the time and effort. It opens us to bliss, purpose, and belonging. It puts us in the place where, as the Indian sage Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, “I look within myself and see that I am nothing; that is wisdom. I look around myself and see that I am everything; that is love. Between these two, my life turns.”

Right now, I’m looking around me and feeling a lot of love. Many thanks to you for reading these words and any others I may have written. Courage to you if you long to create, but think you don’t have a good enough reason. Jump in. Keep going. Long before you’ve created anything you feel like sharing, you’ll experience the delights and benefits of becoming the creator you were meant to be.

Also, if you want to color something, here is a coloring book page I made to go with Diana, Herself. If you want to know what the hell you’re coloring, turn on the audiobook.

I’ll see you in the great, boundaryless bliss where pure creativity can take us all.