Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a psychology professor whose book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, written after many years of research on the subject, describes the creative process from a psychological standpoint. The author emphasizes the contradiction between the traits of creative people.

10 Contradictory Traits of Creative People

1. Strong but not trained

A creative person usually has quite enough physical energy, but oftentimes, it is not consumed as much as it should. After all, the work of a creator is, first of all, the work of their brain. Concentration solely on intellectual work leads to the weakness of the body. That is why it is vital to balance the mind and body.

2. Smart but naive

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi acknowledges that creative people are smart, they are distinguished by the flexibility and originality of thinking. But almost all naively believe that creativity can be assessed by tests and developed in specialized workshops.

3. Playful but selfless

Creative people like to relax. But when it comes to working on a new project, they are able to work like mad. Take the example of the Italian painter Paolo Uccello. When developing his famous art of perspective, he did not sleep all night long and was walking from corner to corner.

Csikszentmihalyi notes that most of the creators are working late into the night and nothing can stop them.

4. Dreamers but realists

This is a mystery of creative people. They are great inventors with innovative thinking who can come up with anything, but many of them look at life in quite a realistic way. Of course, there are many creative personalities with utterly idealistic views of the world too.

5. Extroverts but self-contained

We are used to dividing people into extroverts and introverts. It is believed that the first types are sociable, find it easy to find common ground with other people, etc. And the second ones, by contrast, live in their own inner world, where only a few people are let in.

But, according to observations of Csikszentmihalyi, truly creative people combine both of these features. In public, they may be very cheerful and talkative, and with their loved ones – quiet and reticent (or vice versa).

6. Modest but proud

Creative people tend to be very modest. They do not expect praise, what they enjoy is the very process of creating something new. However, they will not allow anyone to demean their dignity.

7. Manly or feminine

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that creative people often do not match their gender roles. For example, creative females are often tough-minded, and men, on the contrary, are sensitive and sentimental.

8. Rebels but conservative

What is creativity? That’s right – it is the creation of something new. In this regard, creative people often have a reputation of a rebel, as their ideas go beyond ordinary perception. But at the same time, they often are hard to part with their habits, change their artistic style, etc.

9. Passionate but objective

All creative people are passionately in love with their work. It would seem that passion makes them blind, but truly creative people always look objectively at what they do.

Csikszentmihalyi emphasizes that a creative person should adequately take criticism as well as separate themselves from their work.

10. Open but happy

Creative personalities are always open to accepting new ideas and events, even if they are causing them pain. However, deep inside, they are harmonious and happy people since they know how to enjoy the process of creation.

As you can see, creative people are really full of contradictions. But as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says, these paradoxes help them adapt to almost any situation, fitting all around in order to achieve their goals.

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