By: Adrian Smith
Earlier this week I came across a book written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of psychology at the Quality of Life Research Center in Claremont. In Creativity: Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention, he marvels at how creative people “show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated…instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.” Throughout his book Csikszentmihalyi details a number of personality traits that his findings lead him to believe are typically present in creatives. Here are a handful of the most relevant (and accurate) from his list.
1. Having Lots of Energy, Yet Staying Quiet And Always At Rest
Most of that energy is centred on focusing in on their work, which leaves them a bit tired after long hours of concentrated thought. Power naps are usually in order.
2. Combining Playfulness With Discipline
Along with the free spiritedness that comes with creativity, a lot of creative people work far into the night on the projects that are of meaning to them, whereas others call it a day once they get home from work.
3. Somehow Being Both Extraverted and Introverted
Csikszentmihalyi notes how people tend to prefer either being with crowds of people or sitting somewhere alone, but rarely both. Creatives seem to have the capacity, and the willingness, to thrive in both settings.
4. …Then Somehow Being Both Rebellious and Conservative
They love taking risks in order to explore new avenues creatively, but most creatives honour routines and rituals that leave them out of sorts if not followed strictly.
5. Very Open & Sensitive People (Causing great joy, or pain and suffering as a result)
The psychologist cites this as perhaps the most frequent and important quality among creatives.
6. Touchy About Their Work and also Extremely Objective
Creative people are obviously very passionate about their work and their opinions on it, but at the end of the day they hold an objectiveness that allows them to see the quality of their work for what it is, good or bad, to improve upon or perfect it.
Check out Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity: Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention here: harvard.edu