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Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention

This is one of those books that feels like it was written for me. The satisfaction of an interesting topic (how creativity works), a decent number of examples (not too little, not too many), a perfect structure and incredible breakdown and takeaways just made it an absolute pleasure to read.

The book starts with stating a message I just think was very thought provoking: we’ve moved from thinking that the Gods created everything around us to thinking that we created the Gods. We have taken upon ourselves the role of creator with little thought towards what creation is, how to optimise it. We are not wrong in thinking it is our highest calling and greatest pleasure, but why then, do we not treat it as seriously and with intention as we should?

🪄 Actionable takeaways:

  1. A mental trick to make you more likely to to something is to imagine that for the next few hours, you are in prison. That time doesn’t matter, that you have nothing better to do. You are more likely to enjoy the process of work if you don’t start calculating how much the time spent on it is costing you.

  2. To enjoy anything, you must keep increasing its complexity. It’s more fun to be involved in activities that not exhaustible in one lifetime: poetry, music etc.

  3. The biographers of super creative people usually struggle to make them interesting (Einstein, Michelangelo). Being “unique” in a social way is not an element for creativity (or therefore a reason you should feel bad for not being so).

  4. For most people domains are just a way to earn a living. We do not appreciate just how much we can enrich our life and create if we learnt the rules of another domain. Creative people are those that tend to learn quite a few, and would be learning them even if they weren’t paid to do so.

  5. Wake up in the morning always looking forward to doing something. It can be something small. Eventually most of the day should be composed of things you look forward to. Waking up should feel like a privilege not a chore.

  6. Those who succeed in creative fields are those who can internalise feedback that is external usually external (done by others) without the negative consequences of bad judgement. It is a very interesting skill to be able to evaluate yourself without judging yourself.

  7. There are so many people who have only found out what they were passionate about very late in life. All they had in common is an openness and curiosity about the world. Follow and grow your curiosity, don’t worry if you haven’t “found your calling yet”.

  8. It doesn’t matter that one sticks to a strict schedule, what matters is that you can master your time. Don’t worry about deadlines, think of the bigger picture.

  9. There is nothing unique about the brain of a “genius”. They are just as fast, efficient, capable of processing and remembering information as everyone else. The only difference is how they think and what they think about.

  10. Whenever you read new information, ask yourself “How does this fit into my picture of the universe?” and if it doesn’t, ask “Why doesn’t it fit?”

🧝‍♀️ Fave Quotes:

Productivity is to have a huge wastepaper basket in which to put one’s tasks that contribute to others work, and to spend instead his time on the work that the good Lord has given him, and to do that well.
Naive play is one of the main components of creativity.
Born to see, my task is to watch.
One cannot become creative without becoming dissatisfied with the field they are working in.
The self expands through acts of self-forgetfulness.
When a writer explains the failures of his characters, in a way, he forgives himself too.
The world is actually, our business.
To do anything well, it must be enjoyable. The more activities we do with excellence and style, the more life becomes intrinsically enjoyable.
Relaxation often doesn’t mean doing nothing, it means doing something different from the norm.
When a writer explains the failures of his characters, in a way, he forgives himself too.
Keep exploring what it’s like to be different to who you are.

Bonus: The 9 elements that make something enjoyable:

  1. Clear goals along the way (the surgeon knows what to do next)

  2. Immediate feedback to our actions

  3. A balance between challenge and skills (this helps to keep focus, balance between boredom and anxiety)

  4. Action and awareness merge (our concentrations is on what we do)

  5. Distractions are excluded from focus

  6. There is no fear of failure (in flow we don’t have this)

  7. Self consciousness disappears (the more we are in flow, the more confident we are in ourselves too, so the more we do enjoyable work, the better we get at it) the self expands through acts of self-forgetfulness

  8. We forget time - time is distorted

  9. The activity becomes autotelic - we enjoy something for the experience itself

PS. If you'd like to see me talk through my (very unfiltered and rambly) thoughts, lessons and summaries of books, I host a raw-book-club video series on Nebula. The cheapest deal to get it is through Curiosity Stream, and you can get yearly access to both for under $15 a year with this link:



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