The Psychology of Creativity

An introduction to a series of in-depth articles exploring the psychology of human performance and creative expertise

Image of two girls faces painted for article by Larry G. Maguire on creativity

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An introduction to a series of in-depth articles exploring the psychology of human performance and creative expertise

I regard myself as a creative person. Ideas flow through my mind, almost non-stop. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Music and lyrics I’ve never heard before visit my mind as I doze off to sleep. Poems say themselves to me as I sit at my desk. Article ideas come to mind as I drive along, and business ideas pop into my mind at the drop of a hat.

Managing and developing these ideas is arguably my greatest challenge. I guess that it’s the same for many others. Understanding the nature of our creative instincts and learning how to cultivate them is something from which everyone can benefit. Because the more we know about the inner workings of the self, the better equipped we are to act on purpose and create the life we want to live. The contrary to this is to work to someone else’s rules, to live a life by some other’s design.

The secret to living life on purpose is not really a secret. It’s more a state of mind that is absent in most of us. As such, we can cultivate that state of mind in ourselves and train our brains to focus on creative expression. Therefore, for me, creativity is a state of consciousness that can be nurtured rather than a discipline to be learned.

It is also of primary importance that we first and foremost direct the focus of our attention on things that we enjoy doing. Work must be engaging; it must thrill and excite us. Otherwise, it becomes a means to an end. Without love and attraction to work, it becomes merely a transactional and binary arrangement without purpose. We exist to pay bills and furnish debt to buy things we don’t need.

Our lives must mean more than this. Purpose, meaning, happiness and fulfilment must come from the right-now experience and not from some future expectation of reward. Conscious creative expression in daily work, therefore, is how we can realise this.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi makes a case for engagement in daily work for its inherent enjoyment rather than for applause or recognition. He says in The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity;

“Very few creative ideas or products are the result, in my opinion, of a rational cost-benefit calculation. None of the highly creative individuals I have interviewed for my book on that topic (Creativity, Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention), became interested in the work that brought them fame and occasionally fortune, because they figured it would make them rich. Even though some of them became world-famous, their lifestyle remained simple and largely unchanged, and in some cases, not much more affluent than it had been when the scientist or artist was a hardworking student”

So this is the basis of my motivation to share these ideas with you. I have been studying the topic for some time now, and I enjoy discovering new concepts that attempt to explain human creativity. How I deepen that curiosity and develop a greater understanding, is to disseminate and share the psychological principles through my writing.

As such, I’m launching a new series titled; The Psychology of Creativity.

In this series, the length of which I don’t know, I will be sharing the history, major theories, biological, cognitive and emotional basis of creativity. Articles will explore the neuroscience of creativity, its relationship with mental illness (if indeed there is one), social influences and cultural influences. A psychoanalytic perspective will also be covered. I’ll be looking at how we can nurture creativity in ourselves and others through daily practices and behavioural change.

I should note at this point, that articles will not merely report on the available research. Instead, I’ll be taking perhaps a critical look at the available material and offering some personal experience and opinion. In that way, I hope to give you something into which you can get your teeth.

Because there is a lot of work that goes into each article, I’ll be publishing weekly on a Wednesday afternoon CET.

How To Get These Articles: If you want to get each one in the series, follow The Creative Mind and check the box to receive letters from the publication. Or better, join Sunday Letters my private newsletter — it’s free.

Issue 1 |

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