Feeling Good?

There is growing scientific evidence that, “…when in a good mood, people become more intuitive and more creative…”
I read this in “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman, and immediately my mind rebelled. After all, the assumption that an artist must be tortured is so well accepted that it has become a stereotype. It’s as if, in our minds,  suffering is a requirement to being great. And looking at the lives of Vincent Van Gogh, Virginia Woolfe, Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath,  and Frida Kahlo, I have a hard time imagining any of them ever being in a good mood.

Still, science is science, and there are lots of experiments that support Kahneman’s statement.
So what gives?
I’m not sure. I am not a psychologist and I’m only a wanna-be artist, and the only story I know–really know–is my own. Yes, I draw and paint when I am sad and troubled. If I am upset, making art soothes me. I get lost in the process and my brain gets quiet. I slip away to a peaceful place and when I come back, I often find that I am ready and able to face my problems with new insight.

I also draw and paint when I am happy, excited, and feel full of potential. At those times, making art is energetic–I try something new, I take a risk, and the results might be something great or complete trash.

But I guess the question really is: At which of those times am I creative? And the only answer I can honestly give is that I am creative at both times. In fact, I make art both when I feel creative and when I don’t. If suffering isn’t a requirement for being an artist, then feeling creative isn’t a requirement for making art.
And while I realize that a good mood might oil the wheels of the mind, making it run smoothly to creative, new ideas and thoughts, I also know that the very act of creating can create that good mood.
Can science explain that?

3 thoughts on “Feeling Good?

  1. Yes! i love this… wonderfully said. I was nodding my head along with you as i read your words. Speaking for myself, i find it easier to be creative when things are bad. I know it’s cliché, but that’s how it is for me. When i feel troubled with something, the need seems greater for me to get it out of my head and heart and onto paper or canvas. I create when things are good too, it just feels like it takes less effort when things are bad. Or maybe there’s just more of an urgency to get it out? Either way, like you, i am creative during both good and bad times. Interesting blog post… thank you. xox

      • I can’t speak for others, but I have felt that “need” Pauline mentions, and it’s a need for escape, and for self-soothing, and to be in a place outside of one’s self, and most of all to engage the power of creation itself, because it is a good thing that counteracts so much “bad.”

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