By Leo Babauta

We have a tendency to treat habits as something to be gotten through, to rush through so we can get to the next thing in our day.

This is a mistake with any habit, but especially the creative habit. That’s because our minds treat it as something to check off a list, to get over with … it’s not enjoyable. We want it to be over quickly. We’re very likely to switch to something else. We’re not open to what emerges from the process, because we only care about getting it over with.

An alternative is the mindful approach. In this approach, we try to inhabit the creative space, as if we’ve already arrived at our destination. We’re in the place we want to be, open to whatever happens in that space. We’re paying attention, grateful just to be here.

This happens to be the best way to form habits, because it makes the habit something to look forward to, a reward in itself. It also happens to be a fantastic way to create, because we open ourselves up creatively rather than being closed off.

Here’s one way to create mindfully, that you might practice this week:

  1. Notice. After clearing distractions, pause and notice the space where you’re creating. This might be a text document if you’re writing, a canvas if you’re painting, a place where you play music, a sketchbook and table if you’re drawing. Just notice the space, the quality of light, the sounds, the textures, the energy of it.
  2. Savor. Have you ever taken a bite of food with complete awareness of the physical qualities of the food, the textures and flavors and smells, how it feels as you chew? You were savoring the food, but also savoring the experience. This is what you want to do as you write, draw, play. Fully savor the experience of creating. Every movement, every word, every color, every note, even every struggle.
  3. Be curious. Instead of knowing what you’re going to create, be open to what might come from this process. Be curious about what it’s like, about what ideas come, about what happens when you play around. Notice your mind and body as you do this, and be curious about how they feel.
  4. Be grateful. Take a moment to find gratitude just for being here, just for having this opportunity. Be grateful for experiencing every detail.

And finally, develop trust in the goodness of this moment, in the goodness in you, in the goodness of the process. This trust takes time to develop, but if you’re mindful, you might find that this trust emerges.