Creativity: an overused term still misunderstood (1)

How many times a day do you hear the word creativity? What about using it? Are we all supposed to be creative or this is just the privilege of a few? Do you consider yourself creative? If yes, in which way? If no, why not? These were a few questions leading into my research on personal creativity and more exactly into designing ways of improving it. We hear very much about creativity in our daily life, at work, in the media etc and that is normal, as creativity is important in many domains. Economics, business, learning and development, arts and culture, psychology are all areas in which creativity is a factor of success.


Creativity is very specific to humans and many of the most important and interesting things in humanity are the outcome of creative endeavour: languages, arts, science, culture etc (Csikszenmihalyi, 2013).



What about creativity and daily (normal) life?Are we making use of this, obviously human, characteristic or resource to improve the quality of our lives? The results of my research were showing that most of the participants considered creativity as an important element and resource in their lives. Also they were expressing high appreciation of creativity in daily life and willingness to introduce different exercises to improve it nevertheless the meaning, the elements and importance of creativity is still underestimated or misunderstood.


How is that? Let’s try a small exercise! Before reading further try to come up with a few words, elements or a definition of what creativity means  for you.

creativity miths

If your definition is involves concepts such as novelty, originality, creation, a certain type of energy or mind set (thinking out of the box), capacity of having or changing perspective /attitude, or imagination and artistic expression, then you are using the most commonly known concepts about creativity.


Previous research showed that creativity, especially creativity at a personal level is much more than that and therefore we should pay more attention if we want to have a more fulfilling life or be more performing or happy.


In everyday life, creativity is a mechanism of coping, adapting, solving novel problems (Runco,2015) and therefore supporting the decision making process. This means creativity in everyday life is beyond our artistic hobbies, blog writing, theater group or playing with our kids. It is a real resource and also a capacity in dealing with serious everyday decision-making, problem solving or adaptation to the environment. It is the “capacity to construct original interpretations of experience and therefore develop and have transformational capacity” (Runco, 2015, p. 14). The transformational capacity is related to change, the most constant and the scariest thing in our human life.  Furthermore, as creative living is a decision (Sternberg, 2006), it can become a habit if one purposefully looks for beauty, for expressing emotions, finding new solutions, developing a style, a new trend, challenging the status quo (Kaufman and Gregoire, 2016).


Very well you might say, but where is the misunderstanding?

The misunderstanding is that most of us consider that creativity is mainly about divergent thinking, novelty…and “crazy stuff “when in fact is also a resource to better cope with change and other “serious stuff” (not that crazy stuff is not serious or important!!!).

But most of the misunderstanding lays in the elements supportingcreativity at personal level.

I chose in my research just a few that can be used to increase our level of personal creativity: self-beliefs; awareness and expression of emotions; openness to experience; complexity of personality; passion and inspiration; time alone; and flow.

I will take these elements one by one and describe them in future articles but I will mention just one related to the complexity of personalities of highly creative people, which captured my attention right from the beginning of my research: “If I had to express in one word what make their personalities different from others, it would be complexity. By this I mean that they showed tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated”(Csikszentmihalyi, 2005, p.57)


Next article is about the complexity of creative people!


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