Creativity and the Art of Annoyance

Where do “creative people” get their original ideas? It can be difficult to come up with creative ideas, especially when we are just trying to keep all the plates spinning in our stress-filled daily lives. One answer is to keep an "Annoyance List." The goal is to then convert things that stress and annoy you into creative opportunities.

From Tragedy to Art Part II

More than 150 studies have demonstrated the physical and mental health benefits of expressive and narrative writing. Writing is an art form that can help you make meaning out of negative life events and open up the dark areas of the mind to reveal the rich tapestry that is your life.

The New Year, Time Travel, and the Essence of Creativity

For many years I have practiced a New Year's tradition. Very late on New Year's Eve, after the festivities of the night are over and the rest of the merry-makers have retired to their champagne-inspired dreams, I settle in to watch one of my favorite movies dating back to childhood. I do this to usher in the New Year with a creativity-stimulating exercise.

Plagiarism and Its Effect on Creative Work

Even though the fall semester is still relatively young, my teaching staff and I have already discovered several instances of student plagiarism. This may, of course, be due to the fact that instructors are better able to detect plagiarism now (with search engines and computer programs that compare writing samples to other available work)...

The Dark Side of Creativity: Uses of Animals in Warfare

 Descriptions of monkey terrorists trained by the Taliban to shoot U.S. Military Members by identifying their uniforms are all over the internet this week. Fortunately the claims of monkey mercenaries appear to be only web-based monkeyshines! But if these claims were true, could we count this monkey business as an example of the dark side of the creativity?

Zen of the Art of Grocery Shopping

 The Fourth of July holiday is a great opportunity to reflect on the abundance - of both opportunities and products - afforded by the American way of life. All too often we take this abundance for granted. Here's an example from my own life:

From Tragedy to Art: Meaning-Making, Personal Narrative, and Life’s Adversities

I recently finished reading Dr. Nancy Rappaport's excellent book In Her Wake, and it reminded me once again that our lives are works of art - or at least they can be works of art if we choose to make them so.

Memorial Day and Commencement: Honoring the Past and Future of America

Memorial Day is our national day of gratitude to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. This day is a way of officially saying "thank you" to those Americans who have died to protect our freedoms and our way of life. Most of those who have given their lives have been young - about the same age as the college grads who are currently celebrating their commencement.  

Hollywood Portrayal of Thinness, Success, and Butter

Anorexia Nervosa is great American tragedy. It's the most deadly of psychiatric illnesses, killing almost 20% of those afflicted. Media portrayal of unhealthy thinness as the ideal of feminine beauty is one (but certainly not the only) contributing factor to this devastating illness. That's why it's so refreshing to see Hollywood offer us a glamorous, oversized, butter-eating role model. 

Novelty-Seeking, Hospital Beds, and the Spirit of Exploration

 It is 8 pm EDT on July, 20, 1969. Anticipation and excitement grip the nation. Sometime within the next few hours, the hatch of a small vehicle will open and history will be made.

Creativity and the Aging Brain

The aging brain resembles the creative brain in several ways. For instance, the aging brain is more distractible and somewhat more disinhibited than the younger brain (so is the creative brain). Aging brains score better on tests of crystallized IQ (and creative brains use crystallized knowledge to make novel and original associations). These changes in the aging brain may make it ideally suited to accomplish work in a number of creative domains. So instead of promoting retirement at age 65, perhaps we as a society should be promoting transition at age 65: transition into a creative field where our growing resource of individuals with aging brains can preserve their wisdom in culturally-valued works of art, music, or writing.

How Do You Keep On Playing When You Know the Game Is Lost?

This has been a week for great victories and great defeats. I'd like to muse on the defeat side of the issue for a few minutes. Like millions of Americans I watched both John McCain's gracious concession speech and Barack Obama's eloquent victory speech. The speeches of both men on this historic night brought me to tears.

The Good Side of the Bad Economy

Several generations of Americans, from the Baby Boomers through the X and Y Generations, have grown up in a state of mind called the “more” mentality. Coincidentally (or not), the rate of depression has increased with every generation from the Baby Boomers on.

Sports Grief, Roller Coasters, and Sarah Palin

It’s a dull ache in the throat and stomach, accompanied by a sudden sinking feeling. I started noticing these physical symptoms of melancholy last week but couldn’t put my finger on the cause until I reread a Psychology Today blog on Sports Grief by colleague Steven Kotler that first appeared on June 25th. Then I realized that my symptoms coincided with the onset of the NFL season…

Depression, Creativity, and a New Pair of Shoes

After reading a newspaper article about some of the current research linking depressive disorders to creativity, an artist friend of mine commented, "Well, I guess now all I have to do is get depressed and my work will improve."

How "Thin" Are Your Boundaries?

Personal space is a very individual matter. Each of us has a certain amount of physical space we like to maintain between ourselves and someone with whom we're interacting. This physical space acts as a boundary between self and others that may reflect the thickness of our psychic boundaries in other areas.

"Designer" Personalities?

The age of designer babies (in which gender, eye color, height, and even IQ of offspring can be preselected) seems to be looming in the not-too-distant future. But is the age of designer personalities (in which our personality traits can be pharmaceutically altered to achieve optimum success and happiness) already upon us? And if so, is this a good thing for society or a disaster?