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August Book Review: Creativity: Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Creativity. We all have it, and we all want to relish in it. But how?

Creativity, Mihaly CsikszentmihalyiMihaly 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.

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi

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 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 were 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

Visit my blog about creativity: DesignsbyVilms.com.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings From One Creative Being


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July Book Review: Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light by Valerie Tarico

“Rigid beliefs that are above question often inhibit or even prohibit the sublime objectivity needed for truth-seeking.” – Valerie Tarico

Trusting Doubt, Valorie TaricoValerie Tarico in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light relays her personal thought-journey from a born-again, fundamentalist Christian to an unapologetic atheist. She examines the authenticity of the bible and the Christian’s assumption and unwavering belief that the bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God. She points out some of the bible’s many errors and contradictions and blatant violence while explaining the historical and cultural context in which the “good book” was compiled. Tarico demonstrates how without this examination and understanding, the bible can be seen by the individual as well as by groups of people as the “timeless, perfect word of God” and rigid adherence to its commands can provide a substitute for nuanced moral judgment.

What makes this book different than the many other books that thoroughly explain the irreconcilable problems with the character of the god of the bible and with the bible’s textual errors and contradictions is the author’s education, experience and unique perspective. As a counseling psychologist, Valerie Tarico examines the reasons we believe what we believe and how that pertains to Christian beliefs specifically. Each chapter of this book begins with an explanation of basic Christian doctrines and is then followed by a “to consider” section, a short recap of the elements in the chapter and very thought-provoking questions for further study and contemplation. I found the organization in this book easy to follow and the author’s voice enjoyable.  In addition, it is well researched.

Essentially, Tarico, in Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, asks the question (as it pertains to religious belief) that all of mankind needs to answer in order to create more workable and congruent communities, and I quote, “Where is our greatest loyalty – to our ideology or to our shared ideas? And which wins when the two are in conflict?” How do we build upon the philosophical wisdom from those before us while remaining vigilant about the (sometimes very tragic) errors of our past? This book is a logical, very thought-provoking exploration of these questions.

Valerie Tarico

A bit about the author, Valerie Tarico:

Valerie Tarico, Ph.D., is a former fundamentalist Christian and graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. She holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa and has completed post-doctoral studies at the University of Washington. Dr. Tarico writes for ExChristian.net, for The Huffington Post, and also hosts a television series in Seattle, Washington, on “moral politics.” She promotes interfaith and shared values that link all humanity and speaks to churches and groups on topics such as moral development, the psychology of belief and wisdom convergence.

To learn more about Dr. Valerie Tarico, visit: ValerieTarico.com.

To purchase Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light, visit: Amazon.

© 2015, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Abundant Living for all Beings From One Creative Being