Rest is where creativity begins


Through the Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching community, I got wind of this talk with Neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen.

It's really interesting for us creative multi-passionates.


Because she tells us one of the proofs of her studies confirms that being highly creative and multi-passionate are linked.

Yes! I knew it!

You know when you just know something? You know it in your whole body but you don't have the left-brained facts and figures to prove it?
Well, here's the proof.

I've plucked out a few sentences out from the hour-long talk.

Here are a few nuggets from the article and the video :

Some of the things she’s learned so far are that creative people tend to be polymaths (meaning they have wide-ranging interests and skills), autodidacts (they like to teach themselves rather than be spoonfed information), prone to mood disorders, and altruistic. Interestingly, she’s also found that brain patterns are very similar in artists and scientists.

 How does the brain create?

"Thought is not just dynamic and nonlinear; unconscious processes play a role."

"During REST (random episodic silent thought) association cortices are freely communicating back and forth.
Associations may initially be meaningless and unconnected, but then a new connection emerges that is creative."

"The brain needs to disorganize in order to self-organize and produce a totally new idea or connection."

Andreasen’s hypothesis, her Eureka moment, is that creative people “have an especially rich repertoire of associations [in their brain activity during REST] … and an enhanced ability to see connections that others can’t.”

This is where it gets interesting for us multi-passionates:
Just over 35 minutes in she addresses creativity and being a polymath (multi-passionate):

She says:

"Being a "polymath" enhances creativity because such people can see a "big picture" and have a rich repertoire of associations".

Creative people are often autodidacts

Some might say we are rebels and don't like to be told what to do and how to think.
That's definitely true as well in my case.

Nancy says:

"We like to teach ourselves, rather than being spoonfed information or knowledge in standard educational settings.
It's probably no coincidence that three major Silicon Valley creative geniuses are college dropouts: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerman."

I remember when I was about 20 and came back from England the first time, I went to live with my aunt and uncle in Copenhagen because I had agreed to go to college, it just had to away from home. Also, they had Italian at this college and I had a love affair with a handsome Italian from Milan ;-)

Anyway, my aunt and uncle were retired Headteacher and teacher and when I announced that I was going to drop out of college after 6 months because I wanted to study on my own terms, they thought I had lost my marbles.

I vividly remember the feeling of how it didn't make sense to me that we had to study 6 different topics in one day and then go home and do homework on 6 different topics so we could move on the next day.

It became a "just have to get through this" scenario and I didn't actually learn anything. Why go to college then??

I didn't see the point of rushing through learning material because someone had decided this is what benefited me the most. Still don't.

Being a polymath enhances creativity, because such people can see a "big picture", and have a rich repertoire of associations.

Creative people have lots of ideas

"You have to have a willingness to take an enormous risk with your whole heart, and soul, and mind, on something where you know the impact - if it worked - would be utterly transformative.

Part of creativity is picking the little bubbles that come up to your conscious mind, and picking which one to let grow, and which one to give access to more of your mind, and then have that translate into action.

The creative process

She makes a very solid point about 8.30 minutes in, about the creative process.

She says about this:

Most people think that "Eureka" moment is the essence of the creativity but it really isn't.
This is one of the most important points I'm going to make.
The creative process really goes through 4 stages:

Preparation: assimilation of the basic information to build on
Incubation: a relaxed time when connections are made, often unconsciously
Inspiration: the "eureka" experience
Production: putting the insights or concepts into a useful form or something that can be communicated to others."

She finishes with this:

Creativity is a mental gift that permits people to perceive in original and novel see things others can't.

My thoughts on Nancy's studies:

I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for the proof she has gathered for us creatives on how our brains work.

It's nice to have somewhere to send left-brained linear people when they look at me like I have 3 heads because I talk about the world in a way they don't understand.

Being creative, multi-passionate and slightly odd is great and wonderfully liberating

Here's the whole talk. It's an hour-long but really worth a watch.

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