Motivation and Creativity

15 02 2010

Here are some wonderful excerpts from Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmaihalyi concerning motivation and creativity.

 The first step toward a more creative life is the cultivation of curiosity and interest, that is, the allocation of attention to things for their own sake.  With age most of us lose the sense of wonder, the felling of awe in confronting the majesty and variety of the world, yet without awe life becomes routine, creative individual are childlike in that their curiosity remains fresh even at ninety years of age; they delight in the strange and the unknown. (346)

  So how can interest and curiosity be cultivated, assuming that you feel the desire to do so? Some specific advice may help.

–Try to be surprised by something every day.  It could be something you see, hear, or read about.  Stop to look at the unusual car parked a the curb, taste the new item on the cafeteria menu, actually listen to your colleague at the office……Life is nothing more than a stream of experience-the more widely and deeply you swim in it, the richer your life will be.

– Try to surprise at least one person every day.  Instead of being you predictable self, say something unexpected, express an opinion that you have not dared to reveal, ask a question you wouldn’t ordinarily ask.

 -Write down each day what surprised you and you surprised others.  Writing them down so that you can relive them in recollection is one way to keep them from disappearing, and after a few weeks, you may begin to see a pattern of interest emerging in the notes, one that may indicate some domain that would repay explore in depth. (347)

-When something strikes a spark of interest, follow it.

-Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to.  Creative individuals don’t have to be dragged out of bed: they are eager to start the day.  (349)

 -If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable……the quality of experience tends to improve in proportion to the effort invested in it.

– To keep enjoying something, you need to increase its complexity. (350)

 -After creative energy is awakened, it is necessary to protect it, We must erect barriers against distractions, dig channels so that every can flow more freely, find ways to escape outside temptations and interruptions, If we do not, entropy is sure to break down the concentration that the pursuit of an interest requires. (351)

 -Take charge of your schedule.

-Make time for reflection and relaxation.

 -Shape your space.  The kind of objects you fill your space with also either help or hinder the allocation of creative energies.  Cherished objects remind us of our goals, make us feel more confident, and focus our attention.  Trophies, diplomas, favorite books, and family pictures on the office desk are all reminders of who you are, what you have accomplished, and therefore what you are likely to achieve, Pictures and maps of places you would like to visit and books about things you might like to learn more about are signposts of what you might do in the future (356)

 -Find out what you like and what you hate about life. Creative people are in very close touch with their emotions. (356)

 -Start doing more of what you love, less of what you hate. (357)

-The only way to stay creative is to oppose the wear and tear of existence with techniques that organize time, space, and activity to your advantage.  It means developing schedules to protect your time and avoid distraction, arranging your surroundings to heighten concentration, cutting out meaningless chores that soak up psychic energy, and devoting the energy thus saved to what you really care about.  It is much easier to be personally creative when you maximize optimal experience in everyday life.  (358)

 -When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery. (344)

 -I am assuming that each person has, potentially, all the psychic energy he or she needs to lead a creative life, However, the are four major sets of obstacles that prevent many from expressing this potential. Some of us are exhausted by too many demands, and so have trouble getting hold of and activating our psychic energy in the fist place, Or we get easily distracted and have trouble learning how to protect and channel whatever energy we have, the next problem is laziness, or lacking discipline for controlling the flow of energy.  And finally, the last obstacle is not knowing what to do with the energy one has. (344)

– In terms of using mental energy creativity. Perhaps the most fundamental difference between people consists in how much uncommitted attention they have left over to deal with novelty.  In too many cases, attention is restricted by external necessity, we cannot expect a man who works two jobs, or a working woman with children, to have much mental energy left over to learn a domain, let alone innovate in it, ….the fact is that there are real limits to how many things a person can attend to at the same time, and when survival needs require all of one=s attention, none is left over for being creative.  (345)

 -Look at problems from as many viewpoints as possible.  Creative individuals do not rush to define the nature of problems: they look at the situation from various angles first and leave the formulation undetermined for a ling time, they consider different causes and reasons, They test their hunches about what really is going on, first in their own mid and then in reality, they try tentative solutions and check their success-and they are open to reformulating the problem if the evident suggests they started out on the wrong path. (365)

Words of Encouragement

15 02 2010

Here are some words of encouragement to say to your students or family today!

How did you do that?

That’s really nice.

Keep up the good work.

That’s quite an improvement

Thank you very much.

That’s clever.

That’s an interesting point


Now you’ve got the hang of it.

Terrific effort!



You’ve got it now.

Nice going

I appreciate what you’ve done.

No one says it quite like you.

That’s coming along nicely.

That’s going to be great.

I can tell you really care.

You’re a good leader.

It looks like you put a lot of work into this.

It makes me happy when people work together.

That’s an interesting way of looking at it.

You’re incredible.

I like the way you’re working.

How does that make you feel?

You really paid attention!

What neat work!

You really outdid yourself.

Very creative

Good thinking.

You’re right on track.

That’s a very good observation.

That’s a good point.


Oh, I see your point.

You make it look easy.

You are so helpful.

I’m glad you’re here.

That’s encouraging.

Thanks for sharing.

It must make you feel good that…

I like the way you worked that out.