I recently read the book, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The book traces an in-depth study of creative individuals and the creative process. Why spend time studying creativity when there is so much research to be done in the field of medicine or economics or…? The list goes on and on. Well, Mihaly says that creativity is essential to life not only because creativity enriches culture and quality of life but also because creative thinking leads to solutions for the world’s problems. “If the next generation is to face the future with zest and self-confident, we must educate them to be original as well as competent” he writes.

As you know, creative people come in ALL shapes and sizes. It would be impossible to define the personality of the “creative individual.” However, Mihaly is able to pinpoint one personality trait that is common to all creatives– complexity. He defines complexity as demonstrating “tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated…contradictory extremes.” Creative individuals easily swing between these contradictory extremes.

Mihaly lists ten examples of opposing personality trait pairs.

When an individual can be

  1. energetic but quiet and restful
  2.  smart yet naïve
  3.  playful and disciplined
  4.  imaginative and realistic
  5.  extroverted and introverted
  6.  humble yet proud
  7.  masculine and feminine
  8.  rebellious yet conservative
  9.  passionate yet objective
  10. sensitive to both the pain and enjoyment of their work

I love this concept. After reading the chapter on complexity I felt invigorated. I am not bipolar…I am creative! Ok maybe that is a bit severe, but truthfully, I was able to look at my thought processes differently. Times when I feel spastic or out of control, I try to remind myself that I am creative and it is an asset that I am able to jump between extremes of thought and emotion.