How to Be Creative & Happy: Seeking Pleasure & Purpose

  • 6

I believe you have heard many stories that artists created their greatest works when they were deeply upset or suffering from poor mental health.


T.S. Eliot described his "considerable mental agony" and how he felt "on the verge of insanity" in a letter. Likewise, Vincent Van Gogh wrote about "horrible fits of anxiety," "feelings of emptiness and fatigue," and finally took his own life.



People can't help but ask, can creativity and happiness exist at the same time?


Ambivalent study results


Many previous studies indicate that a positive emotion can enhance creativity. But others suggest that a negative emotion can spark creativity.


For example, the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi studied extensive creative individuals across many disciplines, and found that they all loved what they did and enjoyed "designing or discovering something new."



On the other hand, a large study in Sweden found that authors were more likely to develop mental disorders compared to people doing non-creative jobs. According to this study, "anxiety can focus the mind" and negative emotions can spark creativity.


One of the reasons for the different results may be due to time scale.


What affects creativity



In the short term, you can force yourself to create and meet urgent deadlines if you are stressed or if there are external rewards (such as money). But in the long term, external rewards or pressure cannot sustain your creativity easily. Instead, pressures at work such as the fear of judgment and failure can cause unhappiness and lack of creativity.


If you want to sustain your creativity and happiness over longer periods, you should try to seek both pleasure and purpose.


To seek pleasure and purpose



The psychologist Paul Dolan defines happiness as the "experiences of pleasure and purpose over time." He describes purpose as relating to "fulfilment, meaning and worthwhileness" and believes we are at our happiest with a "balance between pleasure and purpose."


So, if you want to be creative in the long term, you should first ask yourself, if your work is meaningful and fulfilling, and if it can support your happiness.



When your work is truly interesting and enjoyable for you, and you have a sense of purpose to drive you to do better, then you may be able to gain both creativity and happiness.


For those creative people who suffer from poor mental health, however, it is a more complicated picture. Maybe the process of producing creative work can at least please them for a while.



Editors’ selected articles and questions are posted in HTQ Page on Facebook. You are most welcome to follow and/or Like us to stay updated on the latest health info.

6 Answers

These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.
Many take drugs for inspiration. remember Miley's we cant stop. sounds like high but okay. bradley's limitless actually high then the whole life like game boss. they are seeking pleasure n purpose?
HUH ?????............AHHHH YEAH....WHAT SHE SAID    ;-)
Inspiration should be decorations of life, rather than luxuries you chase after.
Love this! Oft we taught at an early age the "Reward System." Eventually this has a negative impact on many, especially those with an addictive personality. Their drug of choice becomes their "reward" for a bad day, a good day, a crisis, a celebration, etc... If we teach our young to enjoy the process instead of the end result or "reward" then I believe we would be much happier as a whole and more satisfied with our lives as they are because let's face it, many of us end up mediocre and not Le Bron or Kim Kardashian.
My ideas come when I laugh a lot. Try bathing, it works.
Yeah only interest drives you forward. Discipline and self-control are nothing.
Id rather agree . like Trump's hobby is money so his ideas as the President all come from money
I am pretty sure Trump's interest in the Presidency also stems from him wanting his face on paper currency! What better way than to memorialize yourself? The man loves money no doubt about it!
He has been and is a very successful business man.  (Mr. President Trump.)
I never forget my creation in bad emotions.