Neuroscience has proven that people with particularly creative minds have brains that are wired differently to those of less creative types.
Science cannot yet explain exactly how all these processes work, however, creativity is believed to involve several cognitive processes. It is hard to say that specific behaviors are related to creativity.
However, several different traits, behaviors and social influences are certainly involved. Here are 14 traits that are common to those with creative minds.
1. They are observant
Creative people often observe everything around them carefully. They also love to people watch. Many creative types have a notebook, sketchpad or camera with them at all times to capture what they see. In many great works, it is the details that fascinate us the most.
For example, we can see many nuances of human behavior and etiquette in Jane Austen’s novels. These small but fascinating details bring the works to life.
2. They daydream
As children, most of us were told to stop daydreaming. However, psychologists are now discovering that daydreaming is far from a waste of time.
Daydreaming is actually a highly engaged brain state, in which we make connections have insights and incubate new ideas. Daydreaming also allows us to look at life in a different way, perhaps imagining what it would be like to be someone else or live in a world that worked differently from our own. This can boost our creative thought processes and lead us to new ideas.
3. They challenge the status quo
Those with creative minds are often not happy to accept things the way they are. They want to change the world and make a difference. They ask questions such as ‘what if?” and ‘why not?’ This helps them redefine what is possible.
Consider the First World War poet Wilfred Owen. He chose to challenge the belief that it was glorious to die for one’s country and opted to portray the horrors of war instead.
4. They regularly slip into creative flow
Creative types may find that when they’re involved in creative work they slip into ‘the zone’. Also known as ‘the flow,’ this state is featured in the book and Ted talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The author explains how a flow state is achieved when we work on something we enjoy and are good at but also at a level that challenges us. In this flow state, we can produce our best creative work.
Creativity does not lend itself to multitasking. It is often essential to tune out distraction in order to get into the flow.
5. They have difficulty finishing projects
One of the drawbacks to having a creative mind is that finishing things can be a problem. The initial stages of a creative project are exciting and new, but this excitement can fade with time, much as many love affairs do!
It is easy to abandon projects when they become more difficult and challenging. Creative types may also find themselves distracted by their next big idea.
6. They see patterns and connections
What separates creative types from others is often the ability to make connections that others miss. Creativity is often about connecting dots between things others might see as totally unconnected.
In seeing patterns and connections that others miss, creative minds can create something new from the overlooked and underappreciated. They see possibilities where other don’t and use that vision to create something original.
7. They feed their souls
We cannot be constantly creating new things if we don’t take time to feed our souls. Julia Cameron described this as ‘filling the well.’ She says,
‘We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them.’
Each person has different requirements for this replenishment. Often it involves time spent in solitude. Whatever we choose, spending time doing whatever nourishes the creative soul is essential for continuing creative expression.
8. They are open
Openness is a key factor in creativity. Creative people are constantly curious and love to expose themselves to new experiences.
As well as being open to new experiences, the most creative minds are also fascinated by new information, sensations, and feelings. They constantly explore both their outer world and inner world and remain open to new possibilities throughout their lives.
9. They embrace their authenticity
In a society that values outward signs of success more than a rich inner life, the creative can often feel a failure. However, those with creative minds align themselves to a different compass. The creative process is part of what makes them who they are.
Ultimately, creative individuals would rather stay true to their authentic vision and follow their dreams than be materially successful and popular.
10. They create in cycles
Creativity has its own natural rhythms and cannot be forced any more than the seasons of nature can be. In any creative life, there will be ebbs and flows: periods of productivity and also times when it is more appropriate to go inwards.
Creative projects begin with a period of incubation before they are ready for the light of the world. Creative people embrace these cycles rather than becoming obsessed with constant productivity.
11. They have a tough time believing in themselves
Those with creative minds suffer from the same doubts and confidence issues as the rest of us. When an artist is struggling to find a place in the world and an audience who values their work, this lack of self-confidence can become acute. Even highly successful creative people often have a hard time seeing the brilliance of their own work.
12. They are resilient
Luckily, while creative types often doubt themselves, they are also determined and resilient. They need to be. Creative work is often full of projects that don’t quite go right and often even downright failures. This is where resilience is needed.
People with creative minds cannot afford to take failure personally. The best way of looking at it is that nothing is a mistake because it is always a learning experience.
13. They follow their passions
Creative people are rarely motivated by material rewards. Instead, they find motivation in intrinsic rewards such as personal satisfaction, curiosity, and passion.
Artists create because there is something inside them that demands it rather than because of a desire for fame or riches or to please someone else. Finding such an intrinsic motivation to do something can actually boost everyone’s creativity.
14. They view life as an opportunity for self-expression
Creative expression is part of our self-expression. Everything we do comes from our own need for self-expression. In this way, our whole lives can become a creative project.
While some people may be more creative than others, I think creativity is a human attribute that we all have. If you look at your own life, you will see that it is full of creativity. When we cook a meal, refurbish a room, pick out an outfit or create a garden, we are being creative. The things we choose say a lot about us and are all parts of how we create our own lives.