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Is the Creative Personality a Result of Genetic Predisposition for Needing Newness and Needing Stability?

Let your dreams be bigger than your fears

Csikszentmihalyi says that the creative personality is made up of seemingly opposite character traits. Creative people are extroverted and introverted. They are energetic and restful. They are smart and naïve. In all, he lists 10 different pairs of personality traits that many people would consider contradictory. Creative people have access to these modes of being and use them when the situation calls for it.

It is possible that these diametrically opposed traits come from the underlying genetic predisposition homo sapiens have regarding creativity. Human beings want safety and security; most of the population avoids risk taking. However, people also need to engage in finding the new and creating. It’s how the human race has survived. Taking risks is an important part of creating something, but the wrong risks could threaten your tribe’s existence.

It’s this constant push and pull that creative people face. Business say they want creativity, but they ignore new ideas and promote those who maintain the status quo. The give resources to the old products and leave research and development to flounder. When someone comes up with a way to change the corporate culture for greater profitability, the risk is seen as too great and that person is often ridiculed, especially if the change would’ve resulted in people losing their jobs or having to change their skills.

Even people who are interested in creativity will choose what they know over what they don’t. It takes a concerted effort or an ironclad argument to get people to change. When facing the effort it takes to introduce new patterns or changes that could fail to an organization and the associated risks, many people would rather hide their ideas and continue as if nothing will be different. Creative people would rather control the direction of the change, even if that means they aren’t really in control of what happens.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Positive Creativity.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Disney Fox Merger Sounds Death Knell for Creatives

Book cover for Penguinate! The Disney Company

The official merger of Disney and Fox has sounded the death knell for creativity. While scooping up Fox’s assets is the right business decision for Disney, it is one that writers, movie makers, ad executives and other creatives should fear.

With Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Fox, and its own studio, Disney will own an estimated 40% of the box office. The merger allows Disney to exercise economies of scale and negotiating power not seen this side of Wal-Mart.

Writers already face enormous competition to get their stories read. Every indie writer out there who wants to see their stories on the big screen has just had their chances reduced by one major player. Making a living as a writer is difficult enough without having Fox’s ability to seek out new storylines withdrawn from the market.

Looking at Disney’s upcoming movie slate, Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King are remakes of animated films. Dumbo will have to lose the crows. Will Smith will have to do his own genie thing because it would be ridiculous to copy Robin Williams. Other than that, these three films look to be Xerox photo copies of their animated counterparts. We’ve already seen them and we’re going to see them again.

The sequels list is longer. With Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, Spider-Man: Far from Home (though not as far as you might think), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Frozen II and Star Wars Episode IX on the slate, there is hardly any room for an original idea. While sequels can bring something new to franchise, they don’t require as much risk taking or creativity to make.

Which leaves Disney with Artemis Fowl and with DisneyNature’s Penguins as its only non-sequel, non-remake movies coming out in 2019. With 11 films left on the slate, Disney has one new story that will probably flop and a documentary to offer. Take a moment to ponder that.

Even if Disney remains true to form and let’s Fox operate the way Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm have, Fox was depending on its Avatar sequels and X-Men films to keep it in the black. Films Disney was already on board with.

Creativity will have to come from film makers with smaller budgets who, despite lacking marketing savvy and budgets for said marketing, have a film hit big. Like writers, these smaller film makers will have to find a way to cut through the noise of modern media and its giants to harness the power of going viral, and they’re going to need you to help. It’s going to be an uphill battle for creative people to get out there, but it always has been.

(Full disclosure: I own Disney Stock ad will go see all the Disney/Marvel/Pixar branded movies they make.)

For more thoughts on the Disney company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” For more on creativity, buy “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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‘How To Fly a Horse’ Debunks Creativity Myths

Kevin Ashton’s “How to Fly A Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery” delves into and debunks the myths of creativity. By using existing scientific research and deftly chosen examples comb from history, Ashton creates an exciting and surprising read for anyone who has ever doubted their own creative abilities. The creative beliefs challenged by Ashton include:

The Creative Leap

Creative thinking is just thinking. There’s no leap, it’s just that creative people take more steps to get to a solution. Less creative people stop when they have something they think works, even if it’s not the best, or even a very good solution.

People and Organizations Want Creativity

People and organizations say they want creativity, but creativity is seldom rewarded. Ignaz Semmelweis lost his job and his life when he challenged the medical field to wash its hands, even though he could show that washing hands saved the lives of women and children during childbirth. The others who came before him to suggest the same thing were ignored or ridiculed.

Robert Galambos lost his job at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research for suggesting the Glia cells in the brain were important, and idea commonly accepted now. Galambos was a famous neuroscientist, who with Donald Griffin, proved bats use echolocation to navigate in the dark and had worked at the institute with his boss, David Rioch for 10 years. None of that mattered; he and his new idea were kicked to the curb.

The Eureka! Moment

The actual “Eureka!” moment that the story comes from is based on a falsehood. The displacement of water would be too small for Archimedes to determine whether gold had been combined with another metal to make the king’s crown. (Its buoyancy is what matters.) Sitting in the tub would probably not have mattered. Even if it did, the story says that Archimedes got into the tub while thinking about the problem. He hadn’t relaxed; he was actively pursuing a solution. The “Eureka!” didn’t come like a bolt of lightning; it came from a series of thoughts.

The Incubation Period

Tied to the “Eureka!” moment, incubation is also something that scientists haven’t been able to see in research the phenomenon. It’s a commonly accepted step in the process of creativity, but it may not be real. While incubation hasn’t been disproved, it has fallen out of favor. Some scientists are changing the name to “implicit cognition.”

Ashton address other issues like brainstorming, the role of rejection, what credit for an idea has to do with anything and why people get credit, and how people fear new ideas. Not only is Ashton’s books one of the best I’ve read on the subject, but it also uses clear stories told in an entertaining way and offers up lessons, hope and encouragement for people who want to be more creative. If you want to be more creative, get “How to Fly a Horse.”

For more on creativity, follow my blog. Purchase “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Exterior and trouble accepting new ideas

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

In a story about Ignaz Semmelweis, the survival rate of children and their mothers, and handwashing included in his book “How to Fly a Horse,” Kevin Ashton points out that even in a “field as empirical and scientific as medicine… Creation is seldom welcome” (74 – 76). People need creativity and change, and they resist it at the same time. It’s part of the dichotomy of being human.

When Walt Disney wanted his imagineers to envision and create a haunted house for his theme park, they all came up with the same idea: a decrepit, run-down building that had ghosts. Walt didn’t like it. He didn’t want a run-down building ruining his pristine park.

According to Sam Gennawey’s “The Disneyland Story,” Ken Anderson, the original lead on the Haunted Mansion as we now know it, wanted to hide the run-down mansion behind trees native to Louisiana. Walt didn’t go for it.

Harriet Burns built three models for Walt to choose from. The imagineers put the pristine building behind the other two decrepit versions. Walt chose the beautiful building every time. He wanted guests to feel welcome in his park; that meant everything had to be clean and in good repair, even the haunted mansion.

Walt was working with some of the most creative people in the planet. Imagineers knew Walt, had experienced his success and demeanor first hand. Even when he told them, “We’ll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside” (Surrell, Jason, “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” p. 13), they insisted on trying to convince him that a haunted house needed to look a certain way.

“Everyone expects a residence for ghosts to be run-down. But Walt was always looking for the unexpected,” (Genneway, p. 180) said Claude Coats.

When those who consider themselves creative and create for a living have trouble accepting new ideas and ways of doing things, everyone else has even greater problems to accept the changes that come with innovations. It’s okay. We just need to realize that creativity is just as necessary for the advancement of humanity as being wary of the change that it brings is. As soon as we can embrace our seemingly opposed sides, we can see they are working together to make us more successful, as long as we don’t let one win over the other all the time.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company” officially releasing on April 14, 2019.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Journal

Journal and iPhone

Leonardo da Vinci wrote his backwards. Walt Disney is rumored to have had one by his bed, so he could jot notes down as they came to him at night. They help with feelings and can be used for different reasons. Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and Frida Kahlo are other creative people who kept journals. If you want to improve your creativity, a creative journal can be a big help.

Popular stories about solutions to problems and creative leaps forward often feature some sort of relaxed state of being. The person is drifting off to sleep, in the shower, out for a walk, or driving a vehicle and the idea presents itself. Far too often people complain that these ideas fade quickly. They can’t remember them, and they didn’t write them down.

Keeping a journal and a pencil with you at all times, or using a recording device to make notes when your hands are otherwise occupied, will allow you to capture these ideas. More importantly, by keeping a journal that tracks ideas and inspirations, you’re telling your brain what you find to be important. Write it down, or transcribe it later, and keep these ideas together. When you’re ready to work on something, go to your idea journal. If you experience a block, the idea journal can help.

If you want to find a form of journal taking that gamifies ideas, check out Takeo Higuchi’s Idea Marathon at our archive website. Higuchi’s method provides a way to keep track of and have ideas while scoring points!

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Get “Penguinate! Positive Creativity: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Old Creativity and New Creativity collide in ‘Happy Feet’

In “Happy Feet,” every penguin has a heart song that he or she uses to find a mate. If the songs work together, the penguins marry and have eggs. The heart song is so important that a penguin isn’t a penguin without it. When Mumble is hatched with feet that compel him to dance, his father is worried and upset. He admonishes his son to keep his feet still; he knows other penguins wouldn’t understand.

Time proves his father right. His dancing is seen as an afront to the Great ‘Guin, and Mumble gets blamed for the lack of fish. Mumble doesn’t think that the accusation makes any sense. Mumble is ultimately banished from the penguin community. He goes to find the real culprit responsible for the missing fish – people. In the end, it’s Mumble’s happy feet that save the penguin community from starving as humans take an interest in the him, and after he teaches his penguin community to dance, the penguin colony on the ice.

Singing and dancing are creative acts, but if a person or penguin keep singing the same song, the act loses its creativity. Creativity must be something new. In the case of “Happy Feet,” it’s the dancing that is creative, and because it’s new, it threatens the status quo. Mumble, its initiator, gets punished for his creativity. When he returns to the community, his new creative act saves the penguins.

People rely on creativity to continue to adapt and grow, as a species and as individuals; people are also threatened by anything that’s new. It’s the paradox of creativity: human beings need it to survive and embrace it in words, but fear the change that comes with it and reject it out of hand. Creativity can be great and terrible. It’s up to us to embrace the innovations that will solve current problems and to encourage those creative acts that bring more beauty and true enjoyment, like dancing and singing, to life.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Call to Action: Create

Waving stuffed penguins

Create Something Beautiful

We are confronted with ugly every day, and I don’t want to give it more space here. Bringing beauty into the world is hard. It’s much easier to give in to our baser natures and create from that. Turn away from your normal reaction and do something different. Do something beautiful; create something beautiful.

Create Something Peaceful

Even if your insides are in turmoil and your brain is spinning, take a deep breath and exhale deeply. Grab hold of the emotions and find the peace within. Bring that peace to your creation process. You may consider doing something to release your frustration, and that’s okay. Then dig deeper and create something that will bring others peace.

Create Something Fun

Haven’t we’ve been entertained to death? Consider the number of shows that thrive on the horrors of mankind. We need to counteract that. It’s time to create something fun. Bring to life something that will bring a smile to people’s faces. Don’t go for easy. Creation shouldn’t be easy. Instead, go for the funny that is difficult and transcendent. Create something that your neighbors’ children, your significant other’s grandparents, and you find funny. Maybe it’s a cat video. Whatever it is, choose something that’s funny without giving in to the easy jokes.

Create Something with Love

Show your love through your creative work. Baked goods are nice, too.

Create Something Inspirational

Beautiful landscapes and inspirational quotes are nice, but it’s time for you to become the inspiration. Do something truly inspirational. Create something that inspires you. Put your heart and soul into something that will lift humanity to greater heights. It’s time to shine your light. Bring it on. #penguinate

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Speakers’ Club March 16, 2019: Consensus

Speakers’ Club Rules.

Word Crimes sing-along:

Pure Imagination:

Minister’s Cat I.

One Word Story.

Native American Talking Stick:

  • Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk.
  • Everyone else listens actively.

Let’s talk about a movie night. Come with your suggestion. It must be:

  • Something I have access to
  • PG-13, PG or G-rated
  • Be in English
  • Be less than two hours long

Do we want a movie night? TV series or Movie? Suggestions? Twilight Zone, Star Trek… Supergirl, Arrow… Disney… Classic or contemporary?

Yes, No, Abstain.

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The Secrets to Exercising for Creatives

people putting hands together

Most people find excuses to not exercise. We need to find excuses to exercise. Since we’re creative, we can do it. Put your creativity to work for you and get your health in the right place so you can create more, create longer, and create better.

Make Time

Like your creative activities, you have to make time to exercise. If you think you don’t have time, you will never have time. There are so many responsibilities pulling you in so many directions; it’s easy to ignore exercise even as your health deteriorates. Set aside 30 minutes every day to do something good for you, your life, and your craft.

Find a Partner

One of the best things you can do is find a partner who is able to motivate you to exercise. External motivation may not be the best motivation, but if it gets you started and drags you through those times when you’d rather be working on the computer, then take it. We all have family members or friends we need to spend time with. If it’s your children, find activities that encourage movement together. Your significant other could also be motivating. A good friend might do the trick to. If you know you need to spend time with someone choose events and activities that will encourage both of you to be healthy.

Find a Reason

Use your creative works to help improve your mindset toward exercise. If you’re a writer, this can be as easy as really wanting to know what basic training is like, or trying to describe fighting styles, or just harnessing the feelings involved in a certain activity that corresponds to your writing’s settings. It’s hard to write about the woods if you’ve never been in them.

Find an Exercise You Like

You can choose any exercise in the world. There will be people in your area that engage in the activity, and they are probably looking for others to join them.

  • Kickball: Adult kickball leagues range from competitive to beer. This was one of the most fun activities I engaged in when I lived in Alaska.
  • Basketball: I started playing basketball in Germany and continued through college and into my mid-thirties. At 5’ 4” with a bad knee, I’m not your typical player, but I enjoyed it.
  • Disc Golf or Frisbee Golf: Frisbee golf is easy. You just need to get a frisbee and find something to throw it at. In college, we used light posts and trees as our goals. Disc golf is a little more serious with courses and specialized throwing discs.
  • Fencing: Swords? Yes, please.
  • Geocaching: Hiking with a destination. High-tech treasure hunting. Get your GPS and get out to find something or just sign your name.
  • Tai Chi: It’s a martial art. It’s slow. It’s easy to motivate me to do Tai Chi.
  • Instinctive Archery: Breathing, stance, and getting in touch with your inner self are all part of the experience. Plus, over the course of an hour, you’ll pull a lot of weight, even with a light bow.
  • Yoga: For me, yoga isn’t that exciting, but it’s something my wife loves. Then I found Cosmic Kids Yoga: storytelling inspired by Disney, Star Wars and more with yoga moves. They make yoga fun.
  • Ballroom and Swing Dancing: Find a group and go. If you’re alone and you’re a guy, don’t worry; there are usually a lot of women willing to dance with a partner they don’t know. Of course, women also dance with each other when no guys are present. Either way, dancing is a good way to work up a sweat. Swing and ballroom dancing just help you look cool doing it.
  • Children’s games: Just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean you can’t play like children do.

When you choose an activity, give it two or three weeks and go at least three times each week. You won’t be good the first couple of times. That’s okay. You’re not supposed to be good at anything the first time. Don’t just do exercise on the weekends. That’s a good way to get injured more easily. Of course, you can always choose more than one activity and you might have your own. It took a couple of weeks before I came up with the idea for looking for videos on Disney Yoga. If you have suggestions for motivating and fun exercises, put them in the comments.

Realize the Benefits

If you know the benefits of exercise and keep them in the forefront of your mind, you’re less likely to skip them. If you want to live longer, better and be healthier, so you can create more and create better while being a part of your friends’ and family’s lives, exercise should be on your list of daily activities.

Have Health Insurance

My lack of health insurance stopped me from playing basketball. I can’t afford to break a leg, blow out a knee or rupture an Achille’s tendon. Having health insurance removes that excuse. It allows you to continue to get the long-term benefits of exercising while mitigating the fear of what could happen if something were to go wrong. I could get hurt walking down the street or going down the stairs, but removing basketball from my exercise regime also limited the possibility of experiencing a catastrophic injury. (And removed one of the places where I was able to socialize.)

Get a Dog

If you’re lucky enough to have space for a pet and live somewhere you can have one, get a medium sized or larger dog, even if you’re more of a cat person. Dogs require you to walk them and play with them. If you take care of your dog in the right way, you’ll also be taking care of yourself. Just be sure that you understand what kind of commitment your making, then go for a walk with your dog for your health.

As always, consult with a physician before you start a new exercise program. If you’re not convinced as to the benefits of exercise, yet, check out “The Secrets to Creativity: Exercise.” For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improving Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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The Secrets to Creativity: Exercise

man and woman jogging near body of water

No matter how many benefits there are or how many good things come from exercise – longer life, better quality of life, stress relief, better health, improved ability to move, less heart disease, better breathing, more energy, and better thinking are just some of them – people are still unable to make the time for even a small amount of exercise every day. It’s gotten so bad that someone recommended losing the remote to the TV, so you would have to get up to change the channel. (Of course, television manufacturers responded by making televisions that won’t work without a remote.)

Not only does exercise give you all of the above-mentioned benefits, it also makes you a better creator. Living longer means you’ll get to create longer as you age. Better thinking means you’ll also be able to think creatively better because they are, in essence the same thing. More energy allows you to create longer during a specific day. Better health means you’ll be able to create during days when you may have otherwise been ill.

If this were all that exercise did, there would be plenty of motivation to get moving. However, Wendy Suzuki in “Quartz” magazine suggests that there is evidence that exercise improves people’s abilities to imagine new situations. Scientific evidence shows that walking and other exercise is good for becoming more creative. Henry David Thoreau is one creator who used exercise to overcome blocks. So, get out, get moving and enjoy your new-found vigor and creativity.

For more about a great exercise secret, become a Penguinator on Patreon and read about how my wife and I found a great yoga program that we both like. Get discounts at our tables at Lilac City Comicon, City Cakes and Café, Ogden UnCon and Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con.

Want to learn more about becoming more creative? Get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”