‘Creativity’ as the cover story of Psychology Today

Photo: jef safi

Editors note: The cover article for the December issue of Psychology Today is titled ‘Everyday Creativity’. How cool is that? It was written by the features editor, Carlin Flora. Here are excerpts from the much longer article:

We all marvel at other people’s artistic achievements and ingenuity. But most of us fail to nurture our inner innovator. Start living creatively and reap the benefits—including fewer relationship headaches and more fulfilling workdays.

When we think of creativity, we think of Mozart, Picasso, Einstein—people with a seemingly fated convergence of talent and opportunity. It’s too narrow a set of references, because the truth is that all sorts of people, possessing various levels of intelligence and natural ability, are capable of engaging in fulfilling creative processes. Just because you’ll never be Brando or Balanchine doesn’t mean that you can’t harness your idea-generating powers and make your life your own masterpiece.

“It’s too bad that when considering what endeavors may be creative, people immediately think of the arts,” laments Michele Root-Bernstein, co-author with Robert Root-Bernstein of Sparks of Genius. “It’s the problem-solving processes they exhibit rather than the content or craft that make them so. Just about anything we do can be addressed in a creative manner, from housecleaning to personal hobbies to work.”

… studies show that taking up creative pursuits actually makes people more flexible and less judgmental.

The real question isn’t “How creative are you?” but rather “How are you creative?” Innovation is rarely a one-step deal; the trick is figuring out how you solve problems. That way, you can build on your strengths and team up with people who compensate for your weaknesses, says educational psychologist Donald Treffinger.

If you want to come up with truly original schemes, it’s essential to separate idea generation from idea evaluation. Otherwise, you’ll be too quick to dismiss seemingly implausible yet brilliant notions. Tina Seelig, executive director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and author of What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, asks her students to come up with the best business idea they can muster and the most horrendous start-up idea imaginable. She then dramatically rips up the “good” ideas and redistributes the “losers” among the students, with instructions to turn them into viable proposals.”

Treffinger and colleagues at the Center for Creative Learning provide an online test to help their clients in the nonprofit world figure out their personal problem-solving styles. “Explorers,” in their framework, are great at coming up with completely novel ideas but not as good as “Developers” at executing and making them work. “Developers may have gotten the idea that they are not creative,” Treffinger says—think engineers—”but both groups are equally creative.”

Ruth Richards, a professor at Saybrook University says: “Creativity provides opportunities for self-actualization. “It makes you more resilient, more vividly in the moment, and, at the same time, more connected to the world.”

Image by Joël-Evelyñ-François Dézafit-Keltz. Description of the concept behind the image can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jef_safi/355887968/

2 replies »

  1. So many pearls of wisdom here.

    my favorite of the day

    The real question isn’t “How creative are you?” but rather “How are you creative?” Innovation is rarely a one-step deal; the trick is figuring out how you solve problems

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