There is a question that was brought to my attention during the last weeks…
– What is creativity?
It came to be true that creativity tends to involve a double combination: originality and meaningfulness. Then sometimes, some creativity researchers add to this main recipe the concept of surprise for what is unexpected, for what is able to surprise you as it can bring something different to the field you’re working in, claiming for your attention and interest on what it should say or predict. This message is projected to the future.
Which possible future we might imagine for ourselves and the friends we care of and just saw during the last weekend of holidays? Even modern day creativity researchers are extending this research question in showing just how important it is to imagine the future of ourselves and the one of others we meet daily, but hardly know from their expectancy: their goals, fears, limits and personal attitudes that sometimes is hard to recognize and discuss about from a fast chat around the office places dedicated to social exchanges. In recent years there’s been the flourishing of a new field in cognitive neurosciences, called the default mode network.
To frame correctly this kind of network, imagine that you have different areas of the brain that operate as team players, communicating with each other in order to solve a particular task or a particular problem. These areas process all the information you have in your cerebral database, trying to find new possibilities, starting by the latest discoveries, embracing exploration and experimentation, recognizing the role of self-expression and how “invention” starting from the elements you have at disposal can simply be the most amazing act a human being can do… Despite its attractiveness and embedded openness the concept of creative invention is something that can be hardly taught during the early adulthood and the late adolescence. You can invent following a procedural and instructional scheme of doing, but as you can imagine is not the same as produce something coherent following personal free will. Why? It seems that you need to master this sort of habit, way of think, style of existing well-being long before.
Theorist and young researchers have also explored if there is a certain liaison between creativity and well-being. Usually psychologists take the traditional approach to well-being, focusing on the constant flow of pleasures and positive emotions. However, while positive emotions often embrace happiness, the mere experience of positive emotions is not necessarily an indicator of happiness, and the presence of negative emotions doesn’t necessarily decrease one’s well-being. This deeper approach to well-being, often described as “eudaimonism” is very similar to the well-being research concept and to the spirit to handle daily life, focusing on living life in a full and deeply satisfying way.
How this might be a 2018 proposal? well, first of all what you need to do is evaluate the importance to explore and develop a personal ideal of what does achievement means to you. Related concepts to this idea are the one of autonomy that can help you learn how to have confidence in your opinions even if they contradict your daily general attitude to handle-on things in search of public and colleagues consensus. Passing through a personal growth and a management of the many responsibilities you have in your daily life, require a firm decision when they become challenges to face and dialogue with. To gain this skill of positive responsiveness is important to remind yourself which is the purpose in your life and why you need to accept that its roller coaster is a purposeful adventure that can be handled choosing a creative lifestyle.
In a study I read months ago, I remember that the author was saying that people who engage in more creative acts in everyday life such as making a scrapbook, visiting an art museum, inventing a new recipe, and taking photographs can be (significantly) more likely to score high in personal growth. A more recent study dived deeper into the relationship between the creative Life and the concept of happiness.
Researchers found that creativity was not significantly correlated with overall life satisfaction and various kind of creativity styles were associated with intrinsic motivation. Just to be clear about it, intrinsic motivation is the motivation to engage in an activity for its own sake for the pleasure and satisfaction derived from its performance. It can be also framed as the love of creating for the sake of creating, avoiding any external rewards. About this topic there is a large body of research handled by Teresa Amabile regarding the importance of intrinsic motivation to enhance creativity.
We can recognize some aspects of creativity that can be associated with intrinsic motivation related to the elaboration of the new piece of art. These are:
- Taking time to learn from the environment you’re dealing with everyday.
- Dedicate some time during the week just to listen to your thoughts and reflections. Being completely concentrated on what surrounds you, can enhance the chances to come up with new ideas and expectations.
- Allowing yourself to think and fantasize on things. But be aware that is fundamental to frame the amount of time you’re doing that.
- Not being afraid to recognize that sometimes the unconscious processes is able to facilitate the creative process that give to an artistic work a richer emotive hint.
In fact, although artists can appreciate friendship they can stay perfectly in solitude. They need this sort of physical and mental isolation to work, deeply, on creative ideas.
Researchers recognized that the creativity process is related to the sum of positive and negative emotions, in contrast to positive or negative emotions alone. In fact, who has built the capacity to experience intense emotions, which can described as both positive and negative ones – may be central to the creative process itself. Being creative in life is not directly associated with the traditional picture of “happiness”, where people experience only joy, amusement, goal achievement and lack of challenges or struggles. It is not a sort of power that allow you to take what you need without giving nothing in exchange that have to do with your personal sphere of well-being. Life is not directly associated with traditional conceptualizations of happiness, as a person who is able to be “creative” appears to be associated with a more deeply meaningful life. To be creative there is a first main requirement: being meaningful and feeling connected to others, feeling in touch with the emotions and the difficulties that usually people conceal for different reasons, that an artist or a creative person is able to dialogue with, understand, and even take by side when the anxiety and the stress came over.
When I go to a modern museum of art I pic up the artwork I like the most by the author capacity to link the past, the present and the future thanks to its ability to refer to history and human emotions. Such as can be fears for example. Maybe this ability is the one that can allow to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties letting them become courageously intimate with themselves. After all, as the Buddhists have long noted, every life has its 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. “Humans may resemble many other creatures in their striving for happiness, but the quest for meaning is a key part of what makes us human, and uniquely so”.
Ruth Richards puts it in other words but the meaning is pretty similar: “a creative style of living, coping with difficulties and weaving possibilities, can not only produce useful accomplishments for self and world but can offer the creator new resilience, perspective, aliveness in the moment, joy, and purpose in life.”
Being creative is not easy cause you need to imagine something new, different, and then accept it before others do, believing in this “thing” deeply and meaningfully. This is a subtle different perspective of what is purpose (your personal one), with all the strong features that overload it along ordinary models where we want to give our contribution.