The creative force…it’s the unknown magic behind the world’s greatest art, music, writing, poetry, and dance. It’s something that has baffled scientists and researchers for many decades. It’s an intangible quality that resides in some more than others. Or does it? What is creativity? What makes someone creative? Can it be measured? Is it quantifiable?
In our never-ending search for mental knowledge and answers as a species we sometimes try to study and define the undefinable. Researchers throughout the 20th century, such as Robert Sternberg, J.P. Guilford, and Ellis Paul Torrance, among others, have attempted to define, place labels upon, categorize, and develop tests of the elusive quality known as “creativity.”
Modern day researchers have linked creativity to constructs and domains such as giftedness, intelligence, reasoning abilities, and inventiveness. Creativity has been defined by researchers such as Sternberg as “producing something original and worthwhile” or by Guilford as divergent thinking, the ability to generate a wide variety of possible novel solutions from an initial problem state. Common Western ideas of creativity have also often traditionally included the idea of imagination or bursts of sudden insight, those “light bulb” moments so commonly talked of and so little often found.
These sorts of peak experiences have also been pinpointed by researchers as being something called a state of “flow.” Flow is a specific state of consciousness defined as being completely absorbed in a singular activity, focused on a state of pleasurable producing where a sense of time seems to disappear. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a primary happiness researcher, discovered that during these optimal “flow” experiences, people are activating their creative abilities and often feel “strong, alert, in effortless control, un-selfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities.”