Creativity. We all have it, and we all want to relish in it. But how?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s groundbreaking book, Creativity: Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention, is considered an exemplary work (and I agree) in the study of creative expression. Csikszentmihalyi interviewed almost a hundred creative people in every field and synthesized his findings in this book. He also brings thirty years of research on the subject of creativity. Professor Csikszentmihalyi explains the creative process, the creative personality, and what it means to work creatively in the first part of his book. He then summarizes his findings from his interviews of very successful creative people, followed by a thorough explanation of what he renders the domains of creativity: the word, life, future, and culture and how to enhance your own personal creative energy.
Although it has been almost twenty years since the publishing of this writing, this masterpiece stands alone as the bedrock of how people experience creativity and live in what the author calls, “flow”- the experience of spending hours or days where you lose track of time, forgetting to eat or sleep, feeling like there is no other place you would rather be, being “in the zone,” feeling completely immersed in your creative endeavor, experiencing creative bliss and feeling an instinctive calling to keep working on your project. Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presents the author’s nine, necessary component states of achieving flow. He also explains that in order to achieve a state of optimal flow, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the creator.
For a long time, I believed I did not possess creativity. However, I thankfully discovered that I, as well as all of us, have an abundance of it! We are all creators to one extent or another. You might be a person who thinks you are not creative, but you truly are. Every day, you make decisions that require the use of your given and inerrant, abundantly supplied creativity. Deciding to shower a certain way as opposed to another is being creative; decorating your bedroom is using your creative mind; designing a spreadsheet, delivering a speech, sewing a dress, knitting a scarf, building a skyscraper, re-arranging your pantry, cooking, using a programming language, making jewelry, writing music, designing the underground structure of an emerging neighborhood, organizing the applications on your cell phone, and blogging is being creative. And, the list goes on. Every time you imagine and then take action, you are creating. Having had to read this book in college years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I possessed some of the characteristics of highly creative and successful people that are described in this book, and you do too! Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi will show you what creative people are like, how the creative process works, and what conditions encourage or discourage the generation of original ideas. I recommend this book to those interested in the study of creative expression or those who want to understand or nourish their own creative lives.
A bit about the author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He is the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago and of the department of sociology and anthropology at Lake Forest College. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi has written several other books or publications in addition to Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention. His most recent work centers around the study of intrinsic motivation and how it contributes to the overall success of the individual. Born in Hungary in 1934, he was affected by the Second World War in ways that deeply influenced his life and later work. During his childhood, he was put in an Italian prison. Experiencing the horrible loss of family and friends due to the war and subsequently becoming lost in “flow” playing chess when he could be the catalysts that inspired his future work in the area of individual flow and optimal human experience.
To purchase Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, visit Goodreads.
To learn more about the author, visit The Pursuit of Happiness.
“But it is impossible to enjoy a tennis game, a book, or a conversation unless attention is fully concentrated on the activity.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi