Live longer with creative, enriching work
Researchers found that employees who have more control over their daily activities and who do challenging work that they enjoy are likely to be in better health and live longer lives. (1)
"The most important finding is that creative activity helps people stay healthy," said lead author John Mirowsky, a sociology professor with the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. "Creative activity is non-routine, enjoyable and provides opportunity for learning and for solving problems. People who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems".
"The health advantage of being somewhat above average in creative work (in the 60th percentile) versus being somewhat below average (in the 40th percentile) is equal to being 6.7 years younger," It is also equal to having two more years of education or 15 times greater household income, Mirowsky added.
"One thing that surprised us was that the daily activities of employed persons are more creative than those of non-employed persons of the same sex, age and level of education," Mirowsky said. "People with a wide variety of jobs manage to find ways to make them creative".
The survey examined general health, physical functioning, how people spent their time on a daily basis and whether their work (even if unpaid) gave them a chance to learn new things or do things they enjoy. The authors suggest that creative work may curtail depression and enhance good feelings from a sense of personal control.
Although the authors did not examine specific job positions that could confer this health advantage, they found that jobs that are high-status, with managerial authority, or that require complex work with data generally provide more access to creative work. Professions considered not to involve a "creative" environment were those such as assembly lines. If your work is routine, find an activity that taps into your imagination and allows you to express yourself. Learn to draw, play music, or write fictional stories and poetry.
1. Creative work and health.
Mirowsky, J., Ross, C. E., Journal of Health and Social Behavior 2007 Dec;48(4):385-403.