“If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an ‘individual,’ each of them is a ‘multitude.’” Said psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi after more than 30 years of observing creative people.
The right brain myth
Many forward thinking neuroscientists have investigating what actually happens in the brain during the creative process. What they have found out through their studies and observations is that the right brain/left brain distinction is somewhat outdated; moreover, it does not provide a complete picture of how creativity comes to be.
Creativity does not require the involvement of one brain region or one side of the brain. Rather it requires the interaction of many cognitive (conscious and unconscious) and emotional processes. The creative process starts with preparation, moves on to incubation, then illumination and through to verification.
In the 1960s, psychologist and creativity researcher Frank X. Barron conducted a serious of experiments to try and find out what causes creative genius. Barron gathered a group of high-profile creative people, including; writers, architects, scientists, entrepreneurs and mathematicians and invited them to spend several days living at the Berkely campus of the University of California.Advertising
Barron discovered that intelligence played a small role in creative thinking and that IQ alone did not explain the creative spark. Through his study Barron found that creativity was informed by intellectual, emotional, motivations and moral characteristics.
Barron isolated certain traits that were common to various individuals from different disciplines. These traits included:
“an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos; independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks.”
Based on these findings Barron wrote that creative genius was “both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner, than the average person.”
The three networks
The creative process can be said to involve three networks: the imagination network; the executive attention network; and the salience network. As Carolyn Cregorie Scott and Barry Kaufman explain in their article:
“The creative brain is particularly good at flexibly activating and deactivating these brain networks, which in most people are at odds with each other. In doing so, they are able to juggle seemingly contradictory modes of thought – cognitive and emotional, deliberate and spontaneous. This allows them to draw on a wide range of strengths, characteristics and thinking styles in their work.”
Let us take a closer look at how each of these networks work.
The imagination network
Neuroscientist Randy Buckner and his colleagues state that the imagination network (also known as the default network) is involved in: “constructing dynamic mental simulations based on personal past experiences such as used during remembering, thinking about the future, and generally when imagining alternative perspectives and scenarios to the present.”
This network is also involved in social cognition. If, for example, we are trying to imagine what someone else it thinking, or put another way, see things from their perspective, we activate this network. It is also used to reflect on our own emotional state as well as the emotional state of others.
The imagination network was first identified by neurologist Marcus Raichle in 2001; it engages many regions on the medial (inside) surface of the brain in the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes.
The executive network
The brain’s executive network is in charge of controlling our attention and working memory. It enables us to focus our imagination and direct our attention to our inner experience without getting distracted by external stimuli.
This network is called into action when a task requires intense and accurate attention. This network is activated when, for example we are trying to understand a complicated lecture, or attempting to solve an involved problem. The areas of the brain that make up this network are the lateral (outer) regions of the prefrontal cortex and areas toward the back (posterior) of the parietal lobe.Advertising
The salience network
The salience network monitors external events and the internal stream of consciousness. The regions of the brain involved in this network are the dorsal anterior cingulate cortices [dACC] and anterior insular [AI]. The salience network is important for dynamic changing between networks.
Various stages of the creative process require different patterns of neural activations and deactivations. Sometimes it is useful for the networks to work in unison, aiding one another, however at other times it is best if the networks do it alone. What is important, however is to do away with the outdated right/left brain model of creativity and to seek to gather a more complex understanding of the intricate dance that the various networks do alone and together.
Last Updated on July 18, 2019
What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People
Some people just seem to float through life with a relentless sense of happiness – through the toughest of times, they’re unfazed and aloof, stopping to smell the roses and drinking out of a glass half full.
They may not have much to be happy about, but the simplicity behind that fact itself may make them happy.
It’s all a matter of perspective, conscious effort and self-awareness. Listed below are a number of reasons why some people are always happy.
1. They Manage Their Expectations
They’re not crushed when they don’t get what they want – or misled into expecting to get the most out of every situation. They approach every situation pragmatically, hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst.
2. They Don’t Set Unrealistic Standards
Similar to the last point, they don’t live their lives in a constant pursuit towards impossible visions of perfection, only to always find themselves falling short of what they want.
3. They Don’t Take Anything for Granted
Happiness rests with feeling fulfilled – those who fail to stop and appreciate what they have every now and again will never experience true fulfillment.
4. They’re Not Materialistic
There are arguing viewpoints on whether or not money can really buy happiness; if it can, then we know from experience that we can never be satisfied because there will always be something newer or better that we want. Who has ever had enough money?
5. They Don’t Dwell
They don’t sweat the small things or waste time worrying about things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. They don’t let negative thoughts latch onto them and drain them or distract them. Life’s too short to worry.
6. They Care About Themselves First
They’re independent, care for themselves and understand that they must put their needs first in order to accommodate the needs of others.
They indulge, aim to get what they want, make time for themselves and are extremely self-reliant.
7. They Enjoy the Little Things
They stop to smell the roses. They’re accustomed to find serenity when it’s available, to welcome entertainment or a stimulating discussion with a stranger when it crosses their path. They don’t overlook the small things in life that can be just as important.
8. They Can Adapt
They’re not afraid of change and they work to make the most out of new circumstances, good or bad. They thrive under pressure, are not overwhelmed easily and always embrace a change of pace.
9. They Experiment
They try new things, experience new flavors and never shy away from something they have yet to experience. They never order twice from the same menu.
10. They Take Their Time
They don’t unnecessarily rush through life. They work on their own schedule to the extent that they can and maneuver through life at their own relaxing pace.
11. They Employ Different Perspectives
They’re not stuck in one perspective; a loss can result in a new opportunity, hitting rock bottom can mean that there’s no where to go but up.
12. They Seek to Learn
Their constant pursuit of knowledge keeps them inspired and interested in life. They cherish information and are on a life-long quest to learn as much as they can.
13. They Always Have a Plan
They don’t find themselves drifting without purpose. When something doesn’t go as planned, they have a plan for every letter in the alphabet to fall back on.
14. They Give Respect to Get It
They are respectful and, in turn, are seen as respectable; the respect they exude earns them the respect they deserve.
15. They Consider Every Opportunity
They always have their eyes open for a new road, a new avenue worth exploring. They know how to recognize opportune moments and pounce on them to make the most of every situation. Success is inevitable for them.
16. They Always Seek to Improve
Perpetual self-improvement is the key towards their ongoing thirst for success. Whatever it is they do, they take pride in getting better and better, from social interactions to mundane tasks. Their pursuit at being the best eventually materializes.
17. They Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
They’re not ones to get offended easily over-analyze or complicate matters. They laugh at their own faults and misfortunes.
18. They Live in the Moment
They don’t live for tomorrow or dwell on what may have happened yesterday. Every day is a new opportunity, a new chapter. They live in the now, and in doing so, get the most out of every moment.
You can learn how to do so too: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future
19. They Say Yes
Much more often than they say no. They don’t have to be badgered to go out, don’t shy away from new opportunities or anything that may seem inconvenient.
20. They’re Self-Aware
Most important, they’re wholly aware of themselves. They self-reflect and are conscious of their states of mind. If somethings bothering them, they fix it.
We’re all susceptible to feeling down every now and again, but we are all equipped with the necessary solutions that just have to be discovered.
Lack of confidence, inability to feel fulfilled, and susceptibility to stress are all matters that can be controlled through the way we handle our lives and perceive our circumstances.
The main philosophy employed by the happiest includes the idea that life’s simply too short: life’s too short to let things get you down, to take things for granted, to pursue absolute and unrealistic perfection.
For some, employing these characteristics is a second nature – they do it without knowing. For others, a conscious effort must be put forth every now and again. Self-Awareness is key.
More About Happiness
- How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up
- How to Be Happy Again: 13 Simple Ways to Shake off Sadness Now
- How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy
Featured photo credit: Charles Postiaux via unsplash.com