Is Happiness Really That Important for Being Creative?

In this post, I'm going to share my thoughts on design and happiness. There is a direct correlation between those two things. No, it's not about being a hippy or total ignorance of what's happening around you. It's more about productivity and ability to make healthy decisions in your life and work. Also, it's not a motivational post or a 100% solution that will work for everyone, and it's not like if you read this article then your life will change.

However, you can get an idea of why sometimes you're not creative and productive and what things to try to fix this.

I'll be talking more about my own experience, what I noticed and daily routines I tried, and my research notes on the topic.

I'm now living a nomadic life and for the past 2 years already experienced living and working in different places, cultures, environments. I was working on some of the design client projects and my own side projects. So mostly it's creative work.

I came up that there is a connection between how you feel yourself and things you can create, invent, and make.

But first I want to share with you some studies that I found and how this impacts us even if we don't know about this.

The Level Of Happiness In The World

Here is the world map of happiness where you can see how people on average happy in the world. data on 2018

Finland, Norway, and Denmark are the happiest countries (in 2018). As you can see it's not a climate that is the main reason for happiness. Despite these countries being wealthy researchers say it's not money that makes us happier either.

Happiness Metrics

The level of happiness depends on 3 basic things like activities, living conditions, and genes. Psychologists say that our genes responsible approximately 50% for how happy we are.

Age plays a tiny role. Older people are a little bit happier than younger people. Surprisingly, health problems play a small role as well. Extraverts considered to be happier than introverts. Married people are also happier than single.


This is definitely one of the most important factors for me. I have a good level of empathy. So this is something that is hard to escape for me. I often do my work from cafes and if I don't have my headphones and it's extremely noisy I can't do anything. Moreover, I can't think at all, only if about escaping a place. Even if people around are laughing and all seems positive.

I like being in places where I do not always understand what people are talking about because of the language I don't know. I can only read emotions and body language. I usually go to a coffee shop in the morning to walk and improve my blood flow. That helps me to start my work day on a positive note. But sometimes the overall experience is not that good as I expected and I feel like I need to escape the place as fast as possible not to ruin my day completely. I feel frustrated. So it's hard to back on track, feel good and be productive.

A noisy cafe in Koh Phangan (view behind my back)

UW Health study shows that your emotional state can be changed at least 25% by people that surround you even with indirect contact. I feel that all the time. I'm an introvert myself, but even if I sit in the cafe close to people who talk negatively or I just don't like the topic then this is definitely what impacts my mood in a bad way, and my productivity starts decreasing. So I usually put on my headphones and try to listen to something that brings me back to my state. Certainly, I see how I speed up and can think creatively again. Even if we talk about general noise, it has a negative impact as well. Crowds, construction, traffic sounds are the worst sounds possible for creative work.

The Right Time And Place

To be honest, you don't really need to be 100% happy to be able to create.

Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh was in depression and poverty all his life, but he was able to create great art.

The Dutch 17th century was a period of a tremendous change in the art world. Also, that period is called The Dutch Golden Age. That was the time and place to create and innovate. So we can see a lot of work at that time from Rembrandt and other painters.

The wave of immigration created a society in which it was normal to live and work together with different kinds of people. This one goes to socialization and how it improves happiness and creativity as I mentioned earlier.

A similar thing happened in Silicon Valley in the 80s when well-known garage startups emerged and now they are the most influential and successful companies.

All these things explain that it's not really necessary to become a hippy to be able to create. It's about what kind of things happen around you. Is it a development and prosperity or a recession and degradation.

Freedom Of Thought

I create more and better when I have freedom and basic life needs like food and services covered. External rules, regulations and time constraints are the enemies. It's very difficult to create something great when you constantly under pressure. You need a space, your own rules, time frames, being able to spend time on ideas or just do nothing to replenish your creative energy. You need attention to things that are important for you, not things that important for someone. That's how you start to love what you do and most importantly the process of work.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

I noticed that I have more emotional and physical freedom when I go to Thailand. Chiang Mai is my favorite spot as of now. People, in general, are very kind. The food is amazing and easily accessible. Everything is very convenient. You can go anywhere you want and any time you want if you rent a bike. You can go to a different coffee shop like every day or sign up to a coworking space. The negatives are only the traffic, burning season and visa renewal, but that's something I can live with if I have the benefits mentioned above.

That's not only me. I see a lot of Americans and westerners, in general, coming to Chiang Mai to bootstrap a project, write a book, make a course, build a business. Even tho they come from the countries that have a high index of happiness they come to Southeast Asia to work on their projects. Mostly to avoid high rental payments, expensive services, foods, etc. Often, developing countries can be uncomfortable, but you can find a place where you can have your creative freedom and do the work that you want to do or at least try things out without much of a risk.

Positive Or Constructive Thinking

What I know for sure is that positive thinking works better than a negative one. I know, I know, sometimes we have dark days and seems like there is no a tiny positive thought to completely switch to this mode. But you'd better do nothing in a negative state than do mistakes that will be hard to fix later.

Being positive is highly beneficial. You see more opportunities, solutions come easier to your mind, it's much faster and easier to make any decisions, and in general, you feel good and happy.


Max is meditating

When I was in Bali the first time, I meditated every day for 1 month. Bali nowadays is a hectic place, not what you can see in "Eat, Pray, Love". Meditation helped me to deal with many things, and I started noticing the beauty of Bali, rich Indonesian nature and culture. In general, I became more positive and started to see things in a different way. Before that, I almost fired all my clients, but after calming my mind, I found a solution and could build even better relationships with my existing clients and managed to finish writing my book about freelance. You can find a lot of benefits in different articles on meditation. In short, it's definitely a life changer and helps to concentrate, clean the mess in a noisy mind and break the negative chain of thoughts.


Last but not least is attention. Social media and advertisers fight for people's attention these days. The more they have it, the more they can monetize. This is highly important to have your attention on the right things that really matter to you. Because from that moment you go on explore screen or start scrolling that news feed you switch to a reflective state that has nothing in common with the creative state, but rather the opposite state. It doesn't mean that you can't use social media for creative researches and to catch up on some trends. But please, don't feed yourself with general stuff. Search for specifics.

I hope that this article helped you to understand how to be more creative and productive or at least helped you to see things in a different way. I believe that there is no one recipe for happiness or for becoming a truly creative person and create only awesomeness. However, I think that if you turn your attention in the right direction then this will be the best investment of your time. Thanks for the reading and stay awesome!


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