Wednesday, November 19

The Multitudes

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly spent some time interviewing and observing creative people and noted that:
Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it's complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an "individual," each of them is a "multitude."
Imagine the conversations an "individual" has with the "multitudes" in her brain. "Is this a good enough conflict?," she asks. "Nah," the other says. "Crossing bridges isn't interesting. Burn it!" Yet another raises her hand. "But that's not a revolution. Isn't that mere anarchy?"

Csikszentmihaly also observed that if most people are either introverts and extroverts, most creatives are both. They are also proud and humble at the same time, and this comes from an awareness that they did something important, but that others have also done more than they had. It's quite a contradiction.

He also says that the most excruciating thing for creatives is when they can't create. At all:
Perhaps the most difficult thing for creative individuals to bear is the sense of loss and emptiness they experience when, for some reason, they cannot work. This is especially painful when a person feels his or her creativity drying out.

Yet when a person is working in the area of his of her expertise, worries and cares fall away, replaced by a sense of bliss. Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.

No comments: