CREATIVE CREATURES: WHAT MAKES THEM TICK?
Nietzsche once said; “He who has a why to live, can bare most any how.” For many artistic types, creative expression is their “why” and they will often bear the how at great costs. Making art has been a part of every culture since the beginning of time. From the Greek plays, the Roman sculptures, Egyptian scribes to the English musicians and the Renaissance painters, art has and continues to captivate the minds, hearts and souls of humankind across the globe.
THE SCIENCE OF CREATIVITY - WHAT THE RESEARCH TELLS US
Although evolutionary scientists have yet to find a satisfying reason for why we engage in creative activities, scientific research suggests that artistic expression enhances self-understanding, improves mental focus and can lead to relaxation and renewal. According to Daniel Goleman and colleagues - authors of The Creative Spirit, research also suggests that tapping into your creative side leads to a greater enjoyment of life, and improvement in communication and collaboration skills.Creativity expert psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, reports that when we involve ourselves in creative projects we feel more alive than during the rest of our lives. Creative outcomes, he suggests, also “add to the richness and complexity of the future.”
So, what exactly is creativity and what then is the driving force behind this powerful innovative engine? Csikszentmihalyi explains the creative concept as having “wonder and interest in what things are like an how they work, an openness to experience, and a fluid attention that constantly processes events in the environment” plus a healthy “dose of curiosity” that all lay the groundwork for “recognizing potential novelty.” Essentially, according to Csikszentmihalyi, who spent years interviewing thousands of artists of all types, shapes and sizes, curiosity is the gas that fuels this mother-of-a-ship. Since creating fresh ideas takes hours, days, weeks and sometimes even years, without a full tank of curiosity, great creative minds would not stay motivated. Csikszentmihalyialso explains that curiosity helps to marshal the individuals “personal resources towards goal-directed activities” and that artists are compelled to pursue their projects, not because of a projected outcome, but for the mere sake that the activity they are focused on is enjoyable.
Scientific evidence also suggests that most people are capable of creative acts. Creativity is not only just for artists as it can be expressed in a number of different ways each and everyday. From painting your living room, experimenting with a new recipe, gardening, and sewing to composing a beautiful email, re-telling a funny story, clever prose in a daily journal, or simply finding new and interesting way to relax, recharge or recycle. Goleman and colleagues also suggest that engaging in one’s own originality leads to more self-confidence and the more you do it the more creative you’ll be in the future.
For some, creativity is a life-long calling and for many artists, writers, musicians, scientists, and inventors, being “creative” is just something they do. For others it is a way of life. Why not nurture your compelling psychological need and use creative expression as a way to facilitate personal and interpersonal growth, carve out some meaning in your everyday life and engage Nietzsche’s “why” while at the same time experiment with your own personal “how.”