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Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

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Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity? Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity? Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration – to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity. Each chapter explores one of the ten attributes and habits of highly creative people: Imaginative Play * Passion * Daydreaming * Solitude * Intuition * Openness to Experience * Mindfulness * Sensitivity * Turning Adversity into Advantage * Thinking Differently With insights from the work and lives of Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Marcel Proust, David Foster Wallace, Thomas Edison, Josephine Baker, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, musician Thom Yorke, chess champion Josh Waitzkin, video-game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, and many other creative luminaries, Wired to Create helps us better understand creativity – and shows us how to enrich this essential aspect of our lives. 


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Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity? Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity? Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration – to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity. Each chapter explores one of the ten attributes and habits of highly creative people: Imaginative Play * Passion * Daydreaming * Solitude * Intuition * Openness to Experience * Mindfulness * Sensitivity * Turning Adversity into Advantage * Thinking Differently With insights from the work and lives of Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Marcel Proust, David Foster Wallace, Thomas Edison, Josephine Baker, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, musician Thom Yorke, chess champion Josh Waitzkin, video-game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, and many other creative luminaries, Wired to Create helps us better understand creativity – and shows us how to enrich this essential aspect of our lives. 

30 review for Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

  1. 4 out of 5

    Macy_Novels at Night

    Fun read! I was attracted to this book because I see myself as a creative person, and thought learning a little psychology behind it would be fun. It did not disappoint, I felt that most of the chapters were written just for me. I have had many inclinations about my personality and the reasons why I am the way that I am, and this book justified many of those feelings. It gave me permission to be who I am without fear. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a creator.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    I enjoyed reading this book; it is engaging, and full of intriguing information about creativity. Some of the information in this book is well-known and documented in other books. But I did learn a lot from this book, so I definitely recommend it. The book is well organized in chapters that deal with factors that seem to contribute to creativity. These factors are: Imaginative play, passion, daydreaming, solitude, intuition, openness to experience, mindfulness, sensitivity, turning adversity into I enjoyed reading this book; it is engaging, and full of intriguing information about creativity. Some of the information in this book is well-known and documented in other books. But I did learn a lot from this book, so I definitely recommend it. The book is well organized in chapters that deal with factors that seem to contribute to creativity. These factors are: Imaginative play, passion, daydreaming, solitude, intuition, openness to experience, mindfulness, sensitivity, turning adversity into advantage, and thinking differently. I learned that creative minds are both messy and complex. Creativity is not the same as IQ. Creative writers score high in both tests for psychological health and in psychopathology! They are simultaneously mentally healthier and more mentally ill than the average person! George Bernard Shaw wrote, "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.". The book notes the importance of daydreaming for incubating new ideas. Also, interestingly, solitude is also important for creativity. Creative people are more sensitive to noises in the environment than most people. I was particularly interested in what the book has to say about meditation. Focused meditation is actually detrimental to creativity, while open-monitoring meditation (tuning into one's own subjective experience) is helpful for fostering creativity. I thought it was especially intriguing that so many performers seem to show paradoxical behavior. When they are on stage, they appear to be extremely extroverted, but they are actually introverted, and quite sensitive. Backstage they are completely different from their onstage presence. In 1959, Isaac Asimov a wonderful essay about creativity. In it, he wrote, "The world in general disapproves of creativity." Asimov explains that we celebrate new original ideas only after they are widely accepted. Until then, we fear creative ideas, because they push us out of our "psychological comfort zone." Creative work can be dangerous, because we simultaneously admire and fear creativity.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Richard

    I was very disappointed by this book. I didn't learn anything new - it was basically a Cliff Notes version of all of the creativity gurus that I have already read collated into this one book. This might be helpful to you if you are new to creativity research, but if you want some practical advice on helping with your creative habits and output, go to the source material: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (anything he has ever written on the topic), Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way), Elaine Aron (on being H I was very disappointed by this book. I didn't learn anything new - it was basically a Cliff Notes version of all of the creativity gurus that I have already read collated into this one book. This might be helpful to you if you are new to creativity research, but if you want some practical advice on helping with your creative habits and output, go to the source material: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (anything he has ever written on the topic), Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way), Elaine Aron (on being Highly Sensitive People).

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    It's a short book with a large number of quotes and extensive notes. What that means is that Wired to Create is a nice little review of a large amount of material about our current understanding of creativity. There isn't a lot of original material here, and that's okay. But I do feel it falls short of being the inspirational source it might have been. I want one or more of these things from a non-fiction book: 1. Tell a good story (reads like fiction, but isn't) 2. Teach me something I didn't alre It's a short book with a large number of quotes and extensive notes. What that means is that Wired to Create is a nice little review of a large amount of material about our current understanding of creativity. There isn't a lot of original material here, and that's okay. But I do feel it falls short of being the inspirational source it might have been. I want one or more of these things from a non-fiction book: 1. Tell a good story (reads like fiction, but isn't) 2. Teach me something I didn't already know 3. Challenge me to have a different perspective about something I thought I knew 4. Inspire me to try something (or inspire me to learn more about a subject) This book had a little bit of each of these things, but less than I would have liked. Much of the material simply confirmed what I already knew. That's not always a bad thing. Here's a quote from the chapter on "Passion": "It should come as little surprise that when we feel that our work is both emotionally interesting and personally meaningful, accomplishing a task is significantly less mentally taxing." I've always known that to be very true for me. I've heard it expressed before and I've applied that knowledge to make my work more bearable on several occasions. Nevertheless, the reminder came at a good time for me. On the other hand, it was difficult to come up with a way to apply the facts from many of the chapters or even to extract any sort of "a ha!" moments from them. Perhaps I've just read too many other writings on creativity (and learning and brain plasticity) recently for there to be enough novel material in Wired to Create. Another irritating bit, and perhaps more of a complaint to the publisher than the authors: there are little pull-quotes peppered all over the book. I'm sure they were intended to make the book even more skimmable than it already is. They make sense in a magazine, especially when quoting from an interview. I found them to be irritating breaks in the flow of reading. It was strange to re-read the same sentence twice on the page. It was strange to re-read the same sentence twice on the page. I would still recommend it to anyone looking for a quick survey of the current science because it's short and concise.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sieran

    Fabulous read! As a creative individual myself (I'm a novelist), I was very interested in the characteristics, and manifestations, of creativity in highly creative people. Though the book made me feel good about myself that I have all the ten traits that creative people tend to have, it also challenged me to do some things differently in my life, to do even more in my art and writing. I was already pretty happy about the stories I write (though I'm always open to more improvement), but I see now Fabulous read! As a creative individual myself (I'm a novelist), I was very interested in the characteristics, and manifestations, of creativity in highly creative people. Though the book made me feel good about myself that I have all the ten traits that creative people tend to have, it also challenged me to do some things differently in my life, to do even more in my art and writing. I was already pretty happy about the stories I write (though I'm always open to more improvement), but I see now that I can innovate even more. The point that we need to have the courage to do things differently in our art, even when most people reject or dislike it, is very important, as I know from my experience as a writer how much we start to want to please our readers, at the cost of sacrificing our artistic freedom and originality. Not saying that we must completely ignore our readers either, but depending on the artist's goals, we can somehow balance the need to make the audience happy (especially if we want to sell our work), and the need to be true to our art and experiment to our heart's content. What I enjoyed most about this book, apart from it being full of inspiring, nonconformist thoughts in itself, is that it cited tons of research and case studies. There's a big difference between just telling us that creators have these ten qualities (imaginative play, sensitivity, etc.), and showing us a mass of data behind each of these ten qualities. The data and studies don't just substantiate the importance of these personality traits and behaviors; they make the author's points clearer, more interesting, and more convincing. The abundant number of case studies and research described were very intriguing to read! The only thing that really bothered me wasn't about the book itself. It's just that when there is a research study on creativity that involves participants coming to the lab (or whatever venue), it seems that the participants' creativity is only ever measured by solving puzzles (with only one correct answer) or by engaging in divergent thinking tasks (e.g. think of as many uses of a brick as possible.) There are many types of creativity, not just the problem-solving or idea-generating type. For instance, there is the kind of creativity you see when writers think of the most interesting, entertaining, consoling, or love-inspiring plot events, characters, sentences, descriptions, and many other things. Despite there being case studies on famous artists and writers, I don't see much (if any) research on not-yet-famous people in their creative abilities as "entertainers", "intriguers", " inspirers", and "soothers", as opposed to "problem-solvers". Creativity is not just, and not always, about solving problems. But again, this is a critique I have on creativity research in general, not on the book itself. Overall, Wired to Create was an enriching and enlightening read for me as a writer, and as a person who has always been fascinated by creativity.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Connie Kuntz

    Do you whistle while you work? (Or do you work with focus and rigid intensity?) Do you sing through your chores? (Or do you just get them done?) Does your mind wander when you take a shower? (Or do you just shower off?) Are you madly liberal and the suddenly sharply conservative? (Or does everyone know exactly where you stand politically?) Do people call you crazy on a regular basis? (Or do people think you are calm and logical?) Let me guess, you do/are all those things because you are...wait f Do you whistle while you work? (Or do you work with focus and rigid intensity?) Do you sing through your chores? (Or do you just get them done?) Does your mind wander when you take a shower? (Or do you just shower off?) Are you madly liberal and the suddenly sharply conservative? (Or does everyone know exactly where you stand politically?) Do people call you crazy on a regular basis? (Or do people think you are calm and logical?) Let me guess, you do/are all those things because you are...wait for it...wired to create!? Creative people are not any one thing. We are all things. Please stop hating us for not being categorically clean. Or don't stop hating us because we don't care. (But we are sensitive to it.) I enjoyed this. (But it did get a little repetitive.) Please, world, stop talking and writing about mindfulness. (And while I'm here, meta-cognition isn't much better.) And it was a bit heavy on the pull quotes e.g., "Flowers are everywhere for all who wish to see them" (Barf.) And it gets a bit precious at times e.g., "I create so I don't cry." (Double barf.) So...if you choose to read this, you've been warned. (And encouraged.) One more thing. (Or possibly two more things.) The "Notes" section is impressive. (Lots of references to back up the authors' statements.) Psychology buffs will appreciate this. (And creative types will feel validated.) So there. That's my review in ten minutes or less. (Eleven, actually.) Signed, Meta (Cognition)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is like the 232nd book I've read on creativity, but it definitely stands out among the oversaturated genre. Unlike the others I've read, this one is not a quick read, nor is it filled with variations of the same exercises/advice to be more creative. No, this is filled with anecdotes backed by research and just the perfect amount of neuroscience. I'm so here for this. Unlike the others in the genre, I didn't finish this in one afternoon. (It took several months, but only because I kept havin This is like the 232nd book I've read on creativity, but it definitely stands out among the oversaturated genre. Unlike the others I've read, this one is not a quick read, nor is it filled with variations of the same exercises/advice to be more creative. No, this is filled with anecdotes backed by research and just the perfect amount of neuroscience. I'm so here for this. Unlike the others in the genre, I didn't finish this in one afternoon. (It took several months, but only because I kept having to return it when people would recall it from me at the library). I suppose I could have, but it's much more dense (it's only 186 pages of actual book -- the other 100-ish pages are acknowledgements/references, which goes to show the depth of the research that went into writing it). I wouldn't have absorbed it all if I sped through it. Is this book going to kick-start you into being more creative by giving you that lightbulb moment of motivation? Probably not. It's not supposed to, and if that's what you're looking for you'll probably think "wow, that was a useless book." Will it give you something to think about regarding the potential of the human brain to create something from nothing? Absolutely. It's a refreshing change from the others I've been reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katia

    If you've never read anything about creativity, this book is a pretty good start. However, if you've read any articles on this subject, you will be disappointed. Each chapter is an interesting overview, but they are all a bit incomplete, all leave you with the feeling that there are so much more to explore.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I requested this book from the library after reading an exerpt in an online article (Huffington Post, maybe?). I'm interested in psychology and sociology, but prefer less academic books on the subject. This was a perfect melding of informational and engaging to the average reader. In Wired to Create, Kaufman and Gregoire give insight into what makes creative people different. Citing a wealth of books and articles on the neuroscience and psychology of creativity, they've have broken down, by chapt I requested this book from the library after reading an exerpt in an online article (Huffington Post, maybe?). I'm interested in psychology and sociology, but prefer less academic books on the subject. This was a perfect melding of informational and engaging to the average reader. In Wired to Create, Kaufman and Gregoire give insight into what makes creative people different. Citing a wealth of books and articles on the neuroscience and psychology of creativity, they've have broken down, by chapter, all the different components. Apparently, creative people have 'messy' minds as well as 'messy' emotions. There also seems to be a correlation between creativity and mental health problems. Oddly enough, they also show a greater depth of joy and a higher degree of savoring life. Some of what I read came as no surprise. Creative people engage in imaginative play more often than those less creative. They daydream, enjoy solitude, and depend strongly on their intuition. They tend to have a higher degree of sensitivity, are open to new experiences, diversity of thought and expression, and have a tendency of 'thinking differently' than the average person. In short, creative people are united by their unwillingness to abide by conventional ways of thinking and doing things. The common strand in all the answers was the idea that creative people reject popular, conventional ways of thinking and instead support new and fresh ideas. I found the whole book very interesting, but it was the last chapter that really struck me. In it, the authors touch on the societal contradiction of hailing creativity as important while, at the same time, discouraging it. Even in the field of science where the norm is open-mindedness, it is suggested that scientific peer-review systems are designed in a way to discourage innovation and instead rewards research that reinforces existing paradigms. In short, it's not always applauded or pleasant to be a creative individual, but the rewards can be vast if you're wired that way. More interesting still, Kaufman and Gregoire say there is hope for those who weren't born that way. It is possible to re-wire yourself to cultivate creativity using mindful exercises. All that's needed is to work on the mind's flexibility and create as often as possible. Even the greatest artists an (Beethoven, Edison) show a body of mediocre creativity with peaks of greatness.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Sund

    I enjoyed this book a lot, but I usually find this genre to be manipulative. So either this book is actually useful or it has successfully manipulated me into thinking I am a unique sunflower of creativity. Both outcomes look the same from my perspective, so I'm subtracting a star to compensate for my lack of objectivity. Four stars are being awarded for either being good at conveying true information, or for being good at manipulating me. I am a pawn! Or a genius!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Esperanza

    An amazing book regarding the human mind, and more specifically, the creative mind. Artists of all kinds will find this book informative. For those who are not artists, it is a wonderful exploration on creativity. As an artist myself, it gave me greater understanding of myself, my creative process, my own self-exploration and self-expression through art. 5 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Absolutely LOVED this.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chandana Watagodakumbura

    “Wired to Create – Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind” by Scott Barry Kaufman (Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute and a Researcher in the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania) & Carolyn Gregoire (Senior Writer at the Huffington Post) In “Wired to Create – Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind”, the authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire have identified and presented some incredibly useful traits and behaviours of highly creative “Wired to Create – Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind” by Scott Barry Kaufman (Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute and a Researcher in the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania) & Carolyn Gregoire (Senior Writer at the Huffington Post) In “Wired to Create – Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind”, the authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire have identified and presented some incredibly useful traits and behaviours of highly creative minds/individuals. Becoming aware of these traits would help us, the readers, to systematically understand some of the thoughts/behaviours of our own as well as the others with whom we interact on a daily basis. One of the important messages highlighted throughout the book is the messy nature of these truly creative minds that our societies find baffled if look at them in an ordinary/casual sense, thus leading to a situation of social isolation/alienation of these creative minds. Out of the ten traits of highly creative minds presented by the authors, a number of them such as thinking differently, solitude, sensitivity and daydreaming etc. are, in general, negatively regarded by our societies, akin to antisocial behaviour/mental disorder. “Our cultural disapproval of creativity tends to show through when we look at creative paths that don’t lead to mainstream success. There’s a high price to pay for being creative - tireless work, solitude and isolation, failure, and the risk of ridicule and rejection.” Throughout the book, the authors have duly glorified the notion of creativity in a deeper sense by presenting the evidence (unlike how our societies do, in general, in the same way although superficially), while at the same time pointing to some of the commonly used practices in the educational forefronts, albeit somewhat unconsciously, that hamper the enhancement of creativity, which is identified by many scholars and researchers to be a natural human capacity, in learners. As discussed in detail in the book, the important role of “imaginative play” in developing creative minds, especially during the childhood, can be an eye-opener for many parents who are the main caregivers in many cases. Giving the children the freedom to play in their imaginary or dream worlds, minimising unnecessary parental instructions/intervention would be more important than getting them to forcefully develop early reading/writing skills as means of overcoming parental anxieties. “In fact, most children are natural nonconformists. Unfortunately, either at home or in school (or both), many children grow up in environments that devalue independent and creative thought and instead reward imitation, memorisation, and rote learning. The suppression of free thinking and imagination often starts in the educational system. Many people can recall an experience during childhood…when they were punished for thinking differently from everyone else. These experiences can lead children to suppress their natural inquisitive and creative instincts.” The need for appropriate means of instruction for learners by encouraging them to ask questions and finding appropriate information on their own while minimising direct instructions is presented in the book as an important step in encouraging and enhancing creativity. Such practices are likely to minimise stifling of learner creativity inadvertently as a result of inappropriate means of content delivery and expectations from learners. “…common teaching methods that emphasise direct instruction – those in which the child shown what to do rather than given the opportunity to figure it out for herself – can hamper the child’s ability to solve problems independently and creatively and may instead encourage mindless imitation…she won’t be learning the important real-world skills of asking questions and sleuthing out new information about a problem…learning to imitate sometimes means learning to generate the less intelligent response. This is the response that most students give, because of both the way they are instructed and the fact that they may be punished for presenting the more creative answer.” As the authors elaborated, sensitivity and openness to experience appear to go hand in hand in supporting creativity in individuals. Through these traits, creative individuals are able to take in and process a larger volume of information from external (from the outside world through sensory organs) and internal (thoughts, emotions, self-awareness, intuition etc.) environments compared to one who does not show these traits. Such inherent broader and in-depth information processing capacities themselves are also shown to make creative individuals exposed to many vulnerabilities as a result of becoming aware of as well as reactive to some perceived/felt negative subtleties and nuances emerging from social encounters. “…creative people of all types tend to be acutely sensitive, and conversely, sensitive people are often quite creative. It is easy to see how one trait feeds into the other: To both highly creative and highly sensitive mind, there’s simply more to observe, take in, feel, and process from their environment. To highly sensitive people…the world may appear to be more colourful, dramatic, tragic, and beautiful. Sensitive people often pick up the little things in the environment that others miss, see patterns where others see randomness, and find meaning and metaphor in the minutiae of everyday life.” Given the above vulnerabilities faced by creative/sensitive individuals, the only ways to minimise or overcome them appear to be the other characteristics highlighted fittingly by the authors - solitude, passion and mindfulness. In many instances, as aptly presented by the authors, creative individuals were able to turn adversity into advantage through the means of relaxing/recharging in solitude and identifying and working towards passions of the greater good. They are also helped by their inherent capacities of mindfulness in which they demonstrate both focused attention as well as open attention abilities in a balanced manner. More specifically, in open attention awareness/monitoring, creative individuals are able to receive and digest information entering into the default/imagination network (while daydreaming) in a non-judgemental/open manner, leading to emotional stability and clarity of understanding. The authors have also highlighted the interesting point of similarities in brain activations of highly creative thinkers and people who are prone to psychosis/mental imbalances. They used the spectrum of referred to as schizotypy – a personality continuum ranging from normal levels of openness to experience and imagination to extreme manifestation of magical thinking/psychosis – to highlight the difficulty in demarcating the boundary between creativity and psychosis, possibly leading to widely discussed medical misdiagnosis instances of creative/highly sensitive individuals, yet another vulnerability faced by them. “So what determines whether schizotypy goes the way of intense absorption and creative achievement or tips over to mental illness? This is where a number of other factors come into play. If mental illness is defined as extreme difficulty in functioning effectively in the real world, then the complete inability to distinguish imagination from reality is surely going to increase the likelihood of mental illness. However, if one has an overactive imagination but also has the ability to distinguish reality from imagination and can harness these capacities to flourish in daily life (with the help of things like motivation, posttraumatic growth, resilience, and a supportive environment), then that is far from mental illness.” Finally, authors have fulfilled a commendable task in directing our readers and societies to sustainability by making use of human creativity appropriately. To pursue that path, we first need to develop the capacities/awareness to identify the characteristics/behaviours of creativity and make it a point to encourage/enhance them rather than stifling them unconsciously right from the childhood. Our societies, in its current form of operation, need a different and evidence-based perspective of seeing, identifying, supporting and embracing this important notion/instinct of human creativity for the sole purpose of their sustainability/survival.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tara G

    I loved this book. It was an interesting read on the science behind why we need to create. My favorite chapter was on Sensitivity. I have been studying this subject recently after taking an on-line quiz on one of my nights plagued with insomnia. I checked off almost every box listed to find out if I was HSP. Highly Sensitive Person. It turns out many creative people have some of these similar tendencies that were previously only seen with a negative connotation. The book states "that a heightene I loved this book. It was an interesting read on the science behind why we need to create. My favorite chapter was on Sensitivity. I have been studying this subject recently after taking an on-line quiz on one of my nights plagued with insomnia. I checked off almost every box listed to find out if I was HSP. Highly Sensitive Person. It turns out many creative people have some of these similar tendencies that were previously only seen with a negative connotation. The book states "that a heightened level of overexciteability has been linked to higher levels of insomnia, anxiety, and fear of (...)death. But it also has led to the creation of some of the greatest art, poetry, and literature." They told a beautiful story of about Van Gogh and his creation of Starry Night. I also loved how they interspersed the works of many creative geniuses of our time such Michael Jackson, Freda Kahlo, Thoreau and Kerouac. The book also gives helpful tips on how to bring more creativity into your world. Some as simple as taking a different route home from work.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a book that examines 10 common characteristics, experiences, or commitments that highly creative people tend to share. There is lots to consider as well as lots to spark the imagination. While I personally got bogged down in the middle of the book and found a few chapters less interesting than others, I still have to say this is a very worthwhile read. It is both affirming and challenging to creative people and should cause the reader to see themselves, make some more sense of some of th This is a book that examines 10 common characteristics, experiences, or commitments that highly creative people tend to share. There is lots to consider as well as lots to spark the imagination. While I personally got bogged down in the middle of the book and found a few chapters less interesting than others, I still have to say this is a very worthwhile read. It is both affirming and challenging to creative people and should cause the reader to see themselves, make some more sense of some of their own world, while also calling them into greater creativity. My favourite chapters we the ones on imaginative play, intuition, and thinking differently.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Huang

    [Sounds like an interesting book to at least scan in more detail. The book explains creativity: that it’s not a single trait but have different angles. Some have creativity from their passion, others from their perceptivity. There are also things one can do to improve their odds of being more creative: breaking fixed routines, take a walk of solitude...]

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nayad Monroe

    I don't know if my three-star rating is completely fair or not. This book promises to describe "the ten things highly creative people do differently." It does. But - maybe because I already do all ten of the things - I mostly felt bored while reading it. I didn't get any new ideas out of it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Sark

    p.xiv - Picasso said of this own creative process, “A painting is not thought our and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it’s finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.” Introduction: Messy Minds p.xvii – In his boo The Art of Thought, British social psychologist Graham Wallas outlined the popular “four-stage model” of creativity. After observing and studying accounts of eminent inventors and cr p.xiv - Picasso said of this own creative process, “A painting is not thought our and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it’s finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.” Introduction: Messy Minds p.xvii – In his boo The Art of Thought, British social psychologist Graham Wallas outlined the popular “four-stage model” of creativity. After observing and studying accounts of eminent inventors and creators, Wallas proposed that the creative process involves the following stages: preparation, during which the creator acquires as much information as possible about a problem; incubation, during which the creator lets the knowledge stew as the unconscious mind takes over and engages in what Einstein referred to as “combinatory play;” illumination, during which an insight arises in consciousness – the natural culmination of a “successful train of association;” and a verification stage, during which the creator fleshes out the insights, and communicates their value to others. p.xxiv – Creative people seemed to become more intimate with themselves – they dared to look deep inside, even at the dark and confusing parts of themselves. Being open to and curious about the full spectrum of life – both the good and the bad, the dark and the light – may be what leads writers to score high on some characteristics that our society tends to associate with mental illness, while it can also lead them to become more grounded and self-aware. In truly facing themselves the world, creative-minded people seemed to find an unusual synthesis between healthy and “pathological” behaviors. Armed with mounting evidence of these deep paradoxes, scientists now generally agree that creativity is not a single characteristic but a system of characteristics, and many theories now emphasize the multifaceted nature of creativity. The characteristics highlighted by these theories include general intellectual functioning, knowledge, and skill relevant to the activity; creative skills and thinking styles; psychological resources such as confidence, perseverance, and a willingness to take risks; inner motivation and a love of one’s work; a complex suite of positive and negative emotions; and environmental factors such as access to gatekeepers in the field and key resources. p.xxvi – The creative process draws on the whole brain. p.xxx – We are all, in some way, wired to create and everyday life presents myriad opportunities to exercise and express that creativity. This can take the form of approaching a problem in a new way, seeking out beauty, developing and sticking to our own opinions (even if they’re unpopular), challenging social norms, taking risks, or expressing ourselves through personal style. Creative self-expression, in its many forms, can be a particularly powerful means of coping with life’s inevitable challenges. There’s a great myth that creativity requires mental illness or suffering, but as we’ll see throughout the book, while there are interesting connection between creativity and suffering, they do not suggest that suffering is a necessary or sufficient condition for creativity. p.xxxii – Learning to solve the increasingly complex world problems of the twenty-first century – and to identity the problems themselves – will require creative qualities like originality, curiosity, risk taking, and a tolerance for the ambiguity inherent in the idea that there is not always a single correct solution. p.xxxiii – Between the late 1960s and early 1990s, more than nine thousand scientific papers were published on the subject. Between 1999 and 2009, another ten thousand papers were written about creativity from a variety of psychological perspectives, including biological, developmental, social, cognitive, and organizational domains, as well as in other fields including economic, education, and the arts. Today, creativity research is in full bloom, with its own scholarly journals and a division of the American Psychological Association. There are now twenty-one thousand books on or related to creativity on Amazon and an endless array of blogs devoted to sharing tips for living more creatively. 1 – Imaginative Play p.6 – It’s important that children grow up in a home environment in which adult interactions support their natural desire to play in this way. Research has shown that pretend play is more common among children whose parents talk to them often, read or tell bedtime stories, and explain things about nature or social issues to them. Research has also found that in schools, encouraging pretend games either in the curriculum or at recess can enhance imaginativeness and curiosity. Adults, too, need this type of support to dream and play. p.8 – “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” (Plato) p.11 – In the words of George Bernard Shaw: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” But that doesn’t mean we can’t infuse playfulness back into our adult lives. Our widespread play deficit is an important reason to carve out spaces in which play is not only tolerated but celebrated. Adults who are more playful report feeling less stressed, being better able to cope with stress, and having greater life satisfaction and other positive life outcomes. And truly, maintaining a spirit of play keeps creativity and vitality alive as we get older. 2 – Passion p.17 – Many highly creative people can vividly remember a “moment, an encounter, a book that they read, a performance that they attended, that spoke to them and led them to say, ‘This is the real me, this is what I would like to do, to devote my life to, going forward,” says psychologist Howard Gardner. That moment of memorable, dramatic contact with an activity of fascination is known as a “crystallising experience.” It can be like love at first sight. The encounter often activates lasting changes in the person’s worldview and self-understanding. Ultimately, the individual and the activity become one and the same. Both the initial and refining crystallizing experiences are critical to the development of the creative mind. As author Thomas Armstrong puts it, crystallizing experiences – which he believes propel people toward their destinies – are the “sparks that light an intelligence and start its development toward maturity.” p.18 – Developmental psychologist Ellen Winner concluded that talented young people “must be able to persist in the face of difficulty and overcome the many obstacles in the way of creative discovery.” Talent is associated with a “rage to master” – an intense and sustained drive for excellence – in the individual’s chosen activity or medium, according to Winner. While important, this drive does not take place of mundane, everyday hard work. The prodigies she studied worked intensely hard, and they were highly motivated to consistently work hard precisely by this internal drive. But what she noticed was that, in addition to hard work, talented young artists shared an intense love of their activity. They were driven less by external rewards and praise and more by a passionate joy in doing their work. While working, they focused like a laser beam, entering a psychological state of flow, which is characterized by complete absorption, concentration, joy, and subjective loss of time. Flow has been documented as an important contributor to performance in areas ranging from sports to music, to physics, to religion, to spirituality, to sex. Who can forge the 1992 NBA Finals, Bulls against Trail Blazers? Imprinted in the brains of many sports fans is the moment when Michael Jordan hit his sixth consecutive three-point shot, looked over at Magic Johnson, and just shrugged, as if to say, “This is out of my hands!” It’s likely that our ability to enter flow states is a product of the creative rage to master. Martha J. Morelock, who has worked with exceptionally creative children, is convinced that the intense engagement she saw in the children is a reflection of a deep brain-based impulse to learn – “a craving for intellectual stimulation matching their cognitive requirements in the same way that the physical body craves food and oxygen. In other words, the children didn’t just seem internally driven to learn about their craft. It appeared as though they needed to master it. p.19 – the same finding, of course, applies to highly motivated adults. A love of one’s work is key to not only productivity but also high-level creativity. In a famous study of the development of excellence, developmental psychologist Benjamin Bloom found that children who became highly creative later in life showed unusual interests in their field. p.20 – The highly creative person may also fall in love with the creative process itself- the imagination, the creation of new forms and figures, and the exploration of new ideas and possibilities. p.21 – Psychologist Robert Vallerand and his colleagues make a distinction between harmonious and obsessive passion, which are most importantly distinguished by how a passion has been internalized in the person’s identity. In contrast, obsessively passionate people are less motivated by a love of their work, and they tend to feel as though they are not in control of their passions. They frequently experience anxiety when engaging in their work and feel constant pressure to outperform others because they see their achievements as a source of social acceptance or self-esteem. They are motivated to engage in their activity due to the promise of external rewards, not their inner inclinations. Obsessive passion is an indicator that the activity has not been healthily integrated into a person’s overall sense of self. p.22 – Passion and its companion, inspiration, are critical pieces of the creativity puzzle. p.24 – Inspiration really does favor the prepared mind. p.25 – Inspired people also tend to enjoy increased well-being in life. In particular, they enjoy greater levels of gratitude, positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, and self-actualization. p.28 – Snyder suggests that hope is a dynamic cognitive motivational system in which emotions follow thoughts, rather than the opposite. Guided by either a hopeful personality or state of mind, people approach their goals with an attitude and a set of strategies that are conductive to success. People who are hopeful tend to create learning goals (like experimenting with a new type of sound), which support personal growth and improvement. Those without hope, on the other hand, tend to adopt mastery goals (like selling a certain number of records), which are less focused on growth and more focused on outperforming others. Several studies have also linked hope to academic achievement, while one study found that those who were in a hopeful state came up with more original ideas and associations. Hopeful thinking may actually promote creative thinking skills, insofar as it involves coming up with various flexible strategies to achieve a goal. 3 – Daydreaming p.30 – “Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought?” Joan Didion once asked. p.33 – Creative work requires a connection to one’s inner monologue, and it is from this stream of desires, emotions, and ways of making sense of the world that new ideas and novel perspectives arise. T. S. Eliot was ahead of his time in recognizing the role of mind wandering in creative incubation, which he referred to as “idea incubation” in his 1933 work, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism. Eliot argued that creativity required an “incubation period” during which the mind could unconsciously process pre-existing ideas – and for this reason, he believed that illnesses forcing the artist to take to bed and avoid the unusual distractions of their daily routines could be surprisingly beneficial for creative work. 4 – Solitude p.48 – Science has confirmed that time for solitude reflection truly feeds the creative mind. The capacity for solitude is a quality that unites successful creators, who are able to turn away from the distractions of daily life and social interactions to reconnect with themselves. But solitude isn’t just about avoiding distractions; it’s about giving the mind the space it needs to reflect, make new connections, and find meaning. p.49 – Far from being an indicator of negative personality traits or mental illness, the capacity for solitude may be a sign of emotional maturity and healthy psychological development. D. W. Winnicott calls the capacity to be alone “one of the most important signs of maturity in emotional development.” Regardless of where you fall on the extraversion spectrum, the capacity for solitude is a muscle that anyone can strengthen and tap into as a way to facilitate the creative process. Psychologist Ester Buchholz describes solitude as “meaningful alone time” that fuels joy and fulfillment in both interpersonal relationships and creative work. p.52 – But we often don’t give ourselves much time for purposeful inner reflection – the pace of modern life leaves little time for seemingly unproductive activity as we face increasing distractions and demands for our attention. The mind must have the space to settle down if it is to come up with the insights that make for original creative work. When we’re engaged in solitary reflection, the brain is able to process information, crystallize memories, make connections, re-establish a sense of identity and construct a sense of self, making meaning from our experiences, and even guide moral judgement. When we’re alone relaxing and daydreaming – or simply turning out our immediate surroundings – the brain’s imagination network is activated. This gives us a sort of inner focus, a lens through which to see ourselves and others more clearly. p.53 – Solitude and creativity have a long and storied history. Since ancient times, a solitary life has been seen as a key to unlocking the mind’s highest creative, intellectual, and spiritual potential. 5 – Intuition p.58 – “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” (Albert Einstein) 6 – Openness to Experience p.82 – We need new and unusual experiences to think differently. Openness to experience – the drive for cognitive exploration of one’s inner and outer worlds – is the single strongest and most consistent personality trait that predicts creative achievement. Openness to experience, one of the “Big Five” personality traits, is absolutely essential to creativity. Those who are high in openness tend to be imaginative, curious, perceptive, creative, artistic, thoughtful and intellectual. p.85 – There are many misconceptions about dopamine, which is commonly seen as the “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” neurotransmitter. Despite many popular descriptions, dopamine is not necessarily associated with pleasure and satisfaction. Instead, dopamine’s primary role is to make us want things. We get a huge surge of dopamine coursing through our brains at the possibility of a big payoff, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll actually like or enjoy what we’ve obtained. Colin DeYoung explains that the release of dopamine “increases motivation to explore and facilitates cognitive and behavioral processes useful in exploration.” DeYoung has called dopamine the “neuromodulator of exploration.” At the broadest level, dopamine facilitates psychological plasticity, a tendency to explore and engage flexibility with new things, in both behavior and thinking. Plasticity leads us to engage with uncertainty – whether it’s pondering a new app to meet a consumer demand or questioning the next step in our own life path – exploring the unknown and finding reward in seeking its positive potential. With plasticity comes enhanced cognitive and behavioral engagement and exploration and, frequently, a commitment to personal growth. p.87 – We know that both daydreaming and dreaming at night are invaluable tools to help us access deeper realms of creativity. People who are high in openness to experience report dreaming more often and having more vivid dreams than those who are less open to experience, very likely due to their higher dopamine production. Dreaming inspires creative insights, and those who have more creative insights show more activation in the brain’s right hemisphere. Among people who are high in openness, the brain’s dopamine systems are working day and night to inspire creative insights. p.92 – Achieving a balance between the intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic aspects of openness to experience may increase the chances that surprising and novel connections will arise and that creativity will not tip over into mental illness. Indeed, for the highest levels of creativity it may be especially important to achieve a balance between the intellectual aspects of openness to experience and the more fantasy-oriented aspects. 7 – Mindfulness p.111 – Being mindful alters the very structure and function of the brain, supporting executive functions like attention and self-regulation, both of which are valuable assets to creativity – especially when it comes to motivating ourselves to sit down and focus on a challenging creative task for extended periods of time. 8 – Sensitivity p.123 – “Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment,” Csikszentmihalyi wrote. “Being alone at the forefront of a discipline also leaves you exposed and vulnerable.” p.140 – Both positive and negative emotions play a critical role in the positive disintegration process. Even emotional experiences that we tend to think of as negative, like neurosis and inner conflict, can contribute to personality growth. These conflicts, if we engage with and learn from them, can set the stage for emotional development, creativity, and a rich inner life. p.141 – At later phases of personality development, a quest to find the true self emerges. The individual no longer passively accepts external authority, but starts listening to his or her inner voice and making judgments based on his or her own standards. Through the process of transcending to the “higher self,” people often become aware of what Robert Greene refers to as the false self – “the accumulation of all the voices you have internalized from other people – parents and friends who want you to conform to their ideas of what you should be like and what you should do, as well as societal pressures to adhere to certain values. Becoming intimate with these voices helps the individual to transcend them. As Joseph Campbell said, “It is by going down into the abyss that we discover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” What lies at higher stages of this journey of personality development? Self-actualization and a desire to help others and solve problems in the world, rather than a preoccupation with one’s own petty concerns. Here, people develop universal compassion, service to humanity, and the realization of timeless values. p.142 – People who achieve extraordinary inner transformation find creative way of solving problems, coping with emotional challenges, accepting themselves and others, and giving back. They seek to constantly give new meaning to their lives and discover their true selves – the self becomes an object of ongoing discovery and creation. They also discover that one’s inner world determines his or her external reality, that we each create our personal and collective reality, that our lives are interconnected, and that the choices we make shape the world toward war or peace. In other words, they discover that “inner peace is the foundation of wold peace” and the “everything we need is within us.”

  19. 5 out of 5

    Raitken

    Great self-congratulatory read to feel good about my creative potential no matter how routinely I squander it by not creating anything of value!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sadia Shahid

    Definitely recommend it to students struggling with creative work in mandatory English classes.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Schwalm Stolz

    According to the author's research, individuals wired for creativity have a unique profile: sensitivity, a deep internal life, an ability to toggle between internal and external worlds and a strong desire to mediate and make explicit that experience, etc. I found this book very helpful in explaining some of the mechanisms my children and I operate under and also found it instructive in helping me to navigate around some of the negatives that this kind of neural package invites (daydreaming leads According to the author's research, individuals wired for creativity have a unique profile: sensitivity, a deep internal life, an ability to toggle between internal and external worlds and a strong desire to mediate and make explicit that experience, etc. I found this book very helpful in explaining some of the mechanisms my children and I operate under and also found it instructive in helping me to navigate around some of the negatives that this kind of neural package invites (daydreaming leads to "big fish" creativity but too much daydreaming leads to messy external world, anxiety and overwhelm...how to navigate?) Found the discussions on impact of digital distraction on creativity and brain makeup particularly useful. Also found discussion on meditation very helpful: meditation that encourages guided mind wandering is apparently much more useful to fostering creative thought than meditation that encourages focus. Takeaways: need to meditate. Need to spend less time online. Need to read more. Need to spend more time alone if I want to foster creative talents.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Terrence

    I enjoyed this book. It was difficult to get through at times because they used a lot of strenuous terminology. But it is a science based book, so it should be expected. Each chapter is a topic of the creative mind. I found the point of the truly creative not being gifted to put out masterpiece after masterpiece enlightening. A lot of being a creative person is a numbers game. You have to produce A LOT of failures, mediocre projects, crappy work, and bland ventures to create something of importa I enjoyed this book. It was difficult to get through at times because they used a lot of strenuous terminology. But it is a science based book, so it should be expected. Each chapter is a topic of the creative mind. I found the point of the truly creative not being gifted to put out masterpiece after masterpiece enlightening. A lot of being a creative person is a numbers game. You have to produce A LOT of failures, mediocre projects, crappy work, and bland ventures to create something of importance eventually. Shakespeare and Beethoven wrote a lot of pieces, many unpublished or unfinished, but the majority of people remember around only 5 to 10 of their works. So, the book motivates me get out there, fail a lot, and get better each time even by just a little bit.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hallie Cantor

    I enjoyed this book, although I sensed that much of the information was what I already knew. Creative people are curious, stubborn, independent, and willing -- even eager -- to take risks. As an Orthodox woman I realize certain limitations as far as broadening the mind. Too broad, the brain falls out. I cannot pursue certain topics (i.e. other religions) or do certain things (i.e. explore non-kosher food) which shows the problem of highly creative people in an authoritarian or religious environm I enjoyed this book, although I sensed that much of the information was what I already knew. Creative people are curious, stubborn, independent, and willing -- even eager -- to take risks. As an Orthodox woman I realize certain limitations as far as broadening the mind. Too broad, the brain falls out. I cannot pursue certain topics (i.e. other religions) or do certain things (i.e. explore non-kosher food) which shows the problem of highly creative people in an authoritarian or religious environment bound by tradition. But perhaps learning to navigate the boundaries is a lesson itself in creativity.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I was intrigued and compelled to keep reading this writer's eloquent style of describing the state of being one with the world when a brain is in creative mode.

  25. 4 out of 5

    mjelle

    I totally didn't think I could be creative but after reading this book, I've changed my mind. All you need to be more creative is use imaginative play, have passion for what you do, daydream a lot, be comfortable with solitude, pay attention to your intuition, be open to other experiences, practice mindfulness, embrace your sensitivity, turn adversity into advantage and just think differently. That's it! Now go out and create!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I really loved this book. Not simply because it has comments from some of my favorite people like Csikszentmihalyi, Yo-Yo Ma and other psychologists and artists, but because it is a great reminder on the importance of the creative process. In the book they talk about the way in which we live today is causing a national attention deficit- so true! Inspiring and a great encouragement to take time for your own solitude and creativity.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Living Creatively "When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive creature. He becomes interesting to other people. He disturbs, upsets, enlightens, and opens ways for better understanding. Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, he opens it and shows there are still more pages possible." —AMERICAN PAINTER ROBERT HENRI

  28. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Very interesting....a masterful blend of anecdotal evidence with psychological and neurological studies. A must read for anyone interested in revamping our educational system to encourage creativity.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katy Roberts

    As a highly creative person, this book spoke to me in so many ways. It made me realize that I am not totally insane and my weird quirks are just part of my creative personality. Overall I thought it was interesting but there was a bit of psychology jargon and dull parts to the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rohith Desikan

    Great book about how creatives are able to channel their energy. Shows that creativity is not a spark but a slow process to get an idea. Talks about the general personalities of creative people and why they are a certain way and how it works. Solid book, worth a read.

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