Creativity – Nature or Nurture?

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Are we born to be creative, or is creativity learned?  In 1996, an article ran in Psychology Today.  It was written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and it’s titled “The Creative Personality”.  The lead reads:

Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”

That sounds about right.  So, is the creative mind the result of genetics, or is creativity something that needs to be nurtured?  Or, like most things… is it a combination?

Take music and art for example.  Anybody that’s interested in music can take music lessons.  People can learn precise drawing techniques.   They can gain the technical skill required, and they can practice.  It’s been my experience that sometimes as person can be quite skilled, but something’s missing.  The music doesn’t flow through them.  The emotion is missing from the art.  Are they short on natural talent?

What about the idea that mental health is tied into creativity?   You can turn to Scientific American for information on this topic.  Scott Barry Kaufman, in his 2013 article “The Real Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness”, sets the record straight, saying:

Mental illness is neither necessary nor sufficient for creativity.”

As someone who make their living as a writer, I’m going to stick with Mr. Kaufman.

Now… I would argue that creativity is at least partially the result of a genetic predisposition.  Under the guise of submitting evidence, I’m going to brag about my family.  My oldest son plays the drums, and makes beautiful custom furniture for a living.  His wife is a wedding and life event photographer.  My second son plays guitar, and does tint and vinyl graphics for vehicles.  He’s married to a talented pastry chef.  My third son is a bass player, and works as a videographer and photographer.  His wife is often his second shooter.  My daughter is an artist, a photographer, and a high school art teacher.  She’s married to an artist who is also a photographer.

My sister owns an art center that also teaches dance and theater.  Her husband plays bass.  Her oldest daughter has a party paper business, and her younger daughter is an actress in New York.

From this anecdotal evidence, you could conclude that heredity has something to do with creativity.  You could also guess that creatives attract other creatives.   My children have the benefit of having a maternal grandmother and grandfather that are talented musicians.  They also have a paternal great-grandfather that was a gifted musician.  Their maternal great-grandfather and great-grandmother were also musicians.  I guess it was hard for them to avoid a love of music.  Too bad it skipped me… although I sound great singing in the shower, it’s mostly technical skill, I think.

Whenever they talk about budget reduction in schools, they seem to pick on art and music first.  So many kids get the perfect opportunity for their talent and enjoyment of the arts at school.  What will happen if we lose that at some point?  Will we, as parents or grandparents, be equipped to nurture and encourage kids in the arts at home?

Is a creative personality enough, or is training, development, an encouragement necessary?  I think that we need both to find ourselves and lead the creative life.  Going back to the article in Psychology Today, Mihaly calls it “full-blast living“.

I love that!

-Cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Football Team

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So… here it comes!  It’s that time of year again.  Let’s be distracted from politics for a few minutes.  Let’s talk non stop about the teams, the halftime show, the commercials, and all of the other hoopla surrounding – THE  SUPER BOWL!

This is actually a lonely two weeks for me.  I have nothing relevant to talk about.  Last year around this time, my coworker, Nate, asked me who I liked in the Superbowl.  I told him that I didn’t care.  He then asked me who my favorite football team was.  I told him that my favorite football team was “Art and Music”. He seemed puzzled by that.  When I went on to explain that I preferred art and music to football, he looked even more perplexed.  I told him that I wasn’t into sports.

My first husband loved watching sports on TV.  I wanted to like it.  I tried to like it.  I pretended to want to try to like it.  It didn’t work out for me.  When I left him, he told me how great it was to be able to stay up all night and watch the game.  He didn’t have to worry about ruining someone’s night, making someone cry or be angry.  I told him that was okay.  I didn’t have to listen to it, watch it, or have it wreck my plans, or waste my time.  In other words… it worked out for both of us!

I hit the jackpot in my current match!  His favorite football team?  You guessed it… art and music.  What a world of difference!  We never talk about sports, we don’t watch sports, and we don’t plan our life around sports.  He will sometimes watch golf if we’re home and it’s on.  I’m okay with that… it doesn’t make much noise.  True fact – before I wrote this post, I asked him “Hey, the Superbowl is this Sunday, right?”  He responded by saying “How should I know?”  I Googled it.  It’s this Sunday.

Is it in our genes to watch sports?  I never watched sports growing up.  My Dad’s trophies are more for the chess team and debate team.  I grew up with two sisters.  None of us played sports.  My family encouraged my love of art and music.  It wasn’t until I started dating my first husband that I learned about TV trays for Thanksgiving.  I have four grown kids.  My oldest loves his football.  My second son isn’t really into it. My third son hates sports.  My daughter can take it or leave it. 

I made all my kids play sports when they were growing up.  I see the value in it, and wonder if I would have been better off for playing when I was young.  By the way, I loved watching my kids play.  My boys were all pretty athletic.  My daughter was the first girl to complete a season of football with the Boys and Girls Club in our area. Other girls had come out in August to practice, but had not played once the season started.  I remember the first play of the first game Catie was in.  She got knocked about ten feet out of her cleats, and landed squarely on the ground.  After that, she developed tenacity and coping strategies, and didn’t fall for that again.

I love to go to a live sporting event.  There’s so much to see, and it’s all happening at once!  I just don’t want to devote the time it takes to follow it on TV.  I get it, I’m just not into it.

I hope your team wins this weekend.  I know mine will!

– Cat