Inspiring Reminders to Think, Live and Love Well

Inspiring Reminders to Think and Live Well

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Oscars: A Celebration of Creativity

copyright A.M.P.A.S.
Millions of us will be tuned in tonight to enjoy the Academy Awards presentations on television.  Whether or not you love the films they celebrate, there's no denying that the Oscars do bring together and showcase an amazing amount of creativity:  from script-writing to musical composition to makeup and costume design.  Creativity and it's benefits have been closely studied by Positive Psychology researchers.   One of the fathers of Positive Psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, studied the commonalities between ninety of the most successfully creative people.  These were people who embraced and nurtured their creativity, and lived full, happy, self-actualized lives as a result.  These are suggestions made from his study of the life-enhancing benefits of allowing our creative selves to shine:

1.) Try to be surprised by something every day. Embrace the atypical. Be open to what the the world is showing you. Life is a stream of experiences. Swim widely and deeply in it, and your life will be richer.

2.) Try to surprise someone every day. Don't always be predictable and patterned. Embrace the unconventional.

3.) Each evening, write down what most surprised you that day, and your response to it. What was your most surprising action, and what was a person's response to it? After a few days of notes, go back and reread them. In a few weeks you'll likely see a pattern of interest developing, waiting to be explored in greater depth.

4.) When something sparks your interest, follow it. Oftentimes we'll find something curious or interesting and tell ourselves we'll do some Internet research on it later. We then let it slide because we're too busy with other things banal, and simply forget about it. If you can't drop everything to follow your interest at any given moment, then carry a small notebook around with you. Write down those things which demand exploration.

5.) Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to. Creative people start each day with the feeling that there is something meaningful to accomplish, no matter how seemingly small.

6.) Spend time in settings that stimulate your creativity. Physical activity is important. The most profound sparks of creativity generally happen when a person is jogging, swimming, walking, or even just traveling somewhere in the car. Sitting in a natural setting, enjoying a sparkling stream or a sunset is beneficial. And the half-asleep / half-awake state we find ourselves in when we're deeply relaxed or barely awake is a powerful state for the reception of novel ideas.

Okay, so we don't all have to produce Oscar-worthy works of creativity.  Ask yourself, though, could your life be fuller, if you let your creative side explore a little?

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996). Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-092820-4

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02411-4 

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