What’s So Creative About Creativity?
Greg A. Grove, Ph.D.

Although technology enables us to live, the fine arts explain why we live. Consequently, within the past 30 years a fascination with the creative process and with creativity itself has come into its own. This movement toward understanding human creativity has resulted in an abundance of scientific research material. More than ever before, standardized tests for creativity abound. Many of them are psychometrically valid and reliable measures of creative temperament and product. At last! Psychology freely acknowledges that all progress toward understanding a meaningful existence is essentially a direct consequence of human creativity.

However, in the past, creativity was one of the least studied areas in American psychology. Why? Many characteristics found associated with creative personalities, such as sensitivity, temperament, gullibility, openness, lack of concern with details, involvement with self, were largely viewed with displeasure. Additionally, society favored and rewarded individuals who were quick at making decisions, somewhat afraid to express "wild" imagination, who preferred to display "safe and sound," even though mediocre, products.

As a consequence blockages were erected to insulate and stifle creativity, which interfered with thinking and behaving in innovative ways. These were perceptual blocks—perceptual set and functional fixity—and cultural blocks based on social influence, expectations, and conformity. The result? "Add three tablespoons of ‘fear of being different’ to two cups of ‘the way we believe others expect us to think and act’ and we lose 27 servings of individuality and creativity," according to one researcher in the field.

But all is not gloom and doom. On the up side, some blocks to creativity are temporary—pressure or worries at work or problems with peers, parents, partners or children—while others are more significant—financial duress or poor health. Contrariwise, highly significant emotional blocks, such as fear of failure, of being different; fear of ridicule or rejection, fear of supervisors; timidity, poor self-concept, and other persistent insecurities, may become permanent impediments.

Yet in spite of social and emotional roadblocks, creativity exists. But what is it, anyway? Creativity is more than using one’s imagination; it is a lifestyle, a personality trait, a way of perceiving the world, a way of living and growing. Being creative is exploring new ideas, new places, and new activities. It’s also developing a sensitivity to the problems of human kind.

For those of us at the 98th percentile and above, our task is before us. Take up the cause for creativity and become the millennium’s "way showers" for a bright and productive New Year. Realize the action of the Divine, awaken imagination and intuition, fill your life with new wonders and blessings, love and support. Knowledge, wisdom, and transformation await. Explore. Inquire. Grow.

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