Recipe for Happiness 3: Creative Happiness

by Waleed Ali Khan

The first thing that I would like to mention is that I realized I haven’t really written about my inspiration behind the Happiness Series, so InshaAllah I’ll include a page called “Themes” where i discuss the rationale behind the themes I discuss.

This post is special to me because I hope that it will encourage my readers to take a step back and think about exploring their creativity. I’m sure we’ve all done some activity to blow off some steam, like listening to music or watching a TV show. However, a few of us actually have a creative outlet and even fewer of us actually relate that to our careers. Research has shown that people who have creative hobbies are less stressed, depressed and of course have more of a sense of purpose.

There are many interesting researches that one can find on the web that corroborate with the idea that having a creative hobby increases happiness. I relied again on my friend TED to find some inspiring talks on this topic. The most interesting lecture I found was by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who has been one of the pioneers in the research of positive psychology. His take on creative happiness was from a scientist’s perspective (go science!) in which he related happiness to the amount of cognitive resources needed in a creative assignment. He found that  when one is doing something creative (that involves both skill and challenge), one is in a state of a creative “flow”. This state requires so much brain power and attention that one forgets one’s identity.This is a state of  suspended existence. It is precisely that moment when one forgets about one’s problems or worldly issues and is in a state of ecstasy. He actually talks about the traumas post world war II and how people were never able to recover, and one of his reasons for that was that they never had creative activities to take their minds off what had happened.

Many people are unsure about what creative hobbies to pursue. I found these steps by another blogger very interesting.


  1. List 20 activities that you have enjoyed over the last ten years. For example, going to the seaside, having friends over for dinner, walking in the country.
  2. List 10 activities that you do not do, but think you would like to pursue.
  3. Make yourself a promise now to do one activity from each list in the next month. Write down what you will have to do to fit in these two new activities.

Click here to visit her blog.

My Extremely Creative Friends

I would like to take these opportunity to celebrate the creative talents of one and a half of my friends (yes Fatima you’re just half a friend).

I think Hiba is by far the most talented person I’ve been friends with. Not only is she crazy smart, she’s good at almost anything. She has an awesome sense of humor, can play the bass and is an amazing artist. I’d like to share some of her artistic masterpieces on my blog (Hiba you owe me!). image


Click on the pictures above to check out her entire work.

The other is my recent friend, Fatima Mujahid – I’ve been blown away by her photography skills! When i was with her in Pittsburgh, I used to wonder why she would take pictures of the most random things. Then when I saw the pictures themselves and I was amazed at how beautiful they looked. Here is some of her work:

ny! by CarnegieMellonQatarslime n plants.JPG by CarnegieMellonQatar

Again – click on the pics to take a look at some of her other work