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The Ten Contradictory Traits of Creative People

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2021

The late psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identified and popularized the concept of flow and also did research around the linked ideas of creativity and happiness. In his book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, he listed 10 pairs of contradictory traits that creative people tend to have.

1. Creative individuals have a great deal of physical energy, but they are also often quiet and at rest.

2. Creative individuals tend to be smart, yet also naive at the same time.

3. A third paradoxical trait refers to the related combination of playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

4. Creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy at one end, and a rooted sense of reality at the other.

5. Creative people seem to harbor opposite tendencies on the continuum between extroversion and introversion.

6. Creative individuals are also remarkably humble and proud at the same time.

7. Creative individuals to a certain extent escape this rigid gender role stereotyping [of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’].

8. Creative people are both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9. Creative persons are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

10. The openness and sensitivity of creative individuals often exposes them to suffering and pain yet also a great deal of enjoyment.

(via open culture & austin kleon)