Fascinating article at PsychologyToday.com: The Creative Personality: Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
I think Dr. C is using “paradoxical” as a euphanism for “schizo,” but regardless, here are the ten traits with some of his commentary:
- 1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.
2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.
Another way of expressing this dialectic is the contrasting poles of wisdom and childishness. As Howard Gardner remarked in his study of the major creative geniuses of this century, a certain immaturity, both emotional and mental, can go hand in hand with deepest insights.
3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
There is no question that a playfully light attitude is typical of creative individuals. But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, perseverance.
4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.
Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present. The rest of society often views these new ideas as fantasies without relevance to current reality. And they are right. But the whole point of art and science is to go beyond what we now consider real and create a new reality.
5. Creative people trend to be both extroverted and introverted.
6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.
These individuals are well aware that they stand, in Newton’s words, “on the shoulders of giants.” They’re also aware of the role that luck played in their own achievements. And they’re usually so focused on future projects and current challenges that past accomplishments, no matter how outstanding, are no longer very interesting to them. At the same time, they know that in comparison with others, they have accomplished a great deal. And this knowledge provides a sense of security, even pride.
7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.
Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.
8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.
Being only traditional leaves an area unchanged; constantly taking chances without regard to what has been valued in the past rarely leads to novelty that is accepted as an improvement.
9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.
Most would agree with Rabinow’s words: “Inventors have a low threshold of pain. Things bother them.” A badly designed machine causes pain to an inventive engineer, just as the creative writer is hurt when reading bad prose.
Dr. C notes, “When we’re creative, we feel we are living more fully than during the rest of life.”
I would add that we feel “we are living more fully” because we are expressing our “image of God” and He is the ultimate Creator. Only love makes us more like God than creativity.
9 am Cancer countdown: Just one radiation treatment to go!