|A small section of my library with the works of creative people|
On Sunday mornings I wake up to Krista Tippets’ NPR program On Being. It’s a wonderful program to wake up to. Every week she interviews people about interesting things. Recently, she had Rex Jung on. He’s a professor of neurology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He’s also a distinguished Senior Adviser to the Positive Neuroscience Project based at the University of Pennsylvania, and he’s worked for years with Special Olympics.
I found the interview fascinating, although I missed a little coming downstairs and taking care of my dog and cats before I turned the downstairs kitchen radio on. So the other day, I went online and listened to it again and took down some notes. I tried to download his papers on the topic, but it was only available with a fee. Anyway, Jung’s working definition of creativity is that it is something both novel and useful. He also sees it as practical with often a common sense connection between creativity and family life, aging and purpose. Jung states creativity is different than intelligence and has more to do with how the brain networks are engaged. With intelligence ideas go quickly from the frontal lobe to the back lobe. It’s straight from A to B, while the creative mind is slower so ideas link together in different ways.
I wonder if that is why my son is always telling me to get to the point when I’m trying to tell him about something that’s happened. Maybe it has to do with my creative mind having a tendency to wander from A to Z, with a few side trips to other letters before reaching B.
Jung feels a sense of humor is a sign of creativity, too, especially when it takes a turn to the unexpected. Anyone who listens to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion will know what a creative genius he is.
Other things he pointed out regards the belief the left brain is logical, whereas the right brain is magical. That’s a myth and not true. Neuroscience studies show the wires that connect left and right brains works with both logical and magical thinking. Rex Jung also claims that the popularity of brainstorming doesn’t promote creativity like it’s believed to do because people conform to please others rather than come up with independent ideas. It is good for team building if not creativity. Of course, he admits writers working together for a TV series, etc., is a different story, because they have stronger wills and are more aggressive about getting their ideas across.
Although I couldn’t get Jung’s articles without paying for them, there were other articles I could download. One of them from Forbes I didn’t download when I read you’re more likely to be creative if you’re neurotic. Excuse me?????
I downloaded excerpts from Human Motivation by Robert E. Franken I found in an article titled “What is Creativity?” from California State University, Northridge. I will only add a little from several pages I downloaded. Franken wrote “In order to be creative, you need to be able to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you need to be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives." It also refers to novel products of value like the airplane.
Franken states the characteristics of the creative personality show they have a great deal of energy, but are also quiet and at rest. They tend to be smart and yet naïve. They have a combination of playfulness and discipline. They alternate between imagination and fantasy, as well as a rooted sense of reality. They tend to have tendencies of both introversion and extroversion. They’re humble and yet proud at the same time and often thought to be rebellious and independent. They are very passive about their work, yet can be extremely objective about it as well. Their sensitivity often exposes them to suffering pain, and yet also a great deal of enjoyment.
From “The Creative Personality” in Psychology Today by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyl – yes, that’s his last name. He states of all human activities, creativity comes closest to providing the fulfillment we all hope to get in our lives. He calls it full-blast living. He claims creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives. Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the result of creativity. It’s what makes us different from apes – our language, values, artistic expression, scientific understanding and technology – the result of individual ingenuity recognized, rewarded and transmitted through learning. He says when we’re creative; we feel we’re living more fully than during the rest of life, like the excitement of the artist at the easel, the writer working on a story, poem or book, or any other creative endeavor one works at.
For thirty years he researched how creative people lived and worked, in order to understand the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. One of the things is their remarkable ability to adapt to almost any situation and make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. He said if he had to express this in one word what makes their personalities different from others is its complexity. He lists the characteristics of the creative person in much more detail than in what was listed in the article by Robert E. Franken above. Possibly Franken read and shortened and simplified what he’d learned by the author with the incredibly long last name impossible to pronounce.
I have many of the characteristics of the creative person listed above. I wrote short stories and poetry as a teenager, and drew pictures as well as painting a little. When I was in my late twenties or early thirties, I took up painting. I took art lessons and attended art shows with my painting, and continued painting for years. I was a creative teacher, playful and with a sense of humor. I started writing when I started college as a nontraditional student, and it opened a whole new world for me. I still miss painting, but have no time for it anymore with all the ideas I have begging to be put down on the page. I’m a mixture of the extrovert and introvert, but enjoy my quiet time alone more than anything else.
Do you have the characteristics of a creative person, and in what ways?