There are lots of reasons not to bottle up your emotions. The general consensus is that you’re happier, healthier and have better relationships when you let those feelings out. And now a new study says you can add one more benefit to the list: Your work will be better if you use it to express your emotions too.


Researchers from the University of California San Francisco used brain scanning to figure out that when jazz musicians actively tried to express their feelings through their work, the parts of the brain that control creativity were more active too. They also found that the happier the emotion you’re expressing, the more creative you’ll be. When the musicians looked at a photo of a woman smiling and tried to convey that emotion through music, their creative brains were more activated than when they saw a photo of a woman looking unhappy. In other words, be positive! You’ll do better work.

“There’s more deactivation of the DLPFC (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, aka the creativity zone) during happy improvisations, perhaps indicating that people are getting into more of a ‘groove’ or ‘zone,’ but during sad improvisations there’s more recruitment of areas of the brain related to reward. This indicates there may be different mechanisms for why it’s pleasurable to create happy versus sad music,” says Malinda McPherson, the study’s first author in a news release.


The researchers only studied musicians’ brains, but we think their findings definitely apply to other creatives too. So next time you’re trying hard to get those creative juices flowing, try to channel some positive feelings — it just might work!

Do you think your creativity and emotions are connected? Tweet us your thoughts at @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)