Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: Everyday Creativity


Being creative in many parts of daily life is for me the utmost of internalizing creative problem solving skills. When I heard that Ruth Richards wrote about the connection between creativity, intuition and spirituality in her book Everyday Creativity, I knew I had to read this book! The combination with integrating intuition and spirituality could improve the meaningfulness of creativity. And it could help to live more ‘in the moment’.

As a leading creativity researcher, Ruth Richards has asked a group of eminent thinkers to offer their thoughts on how to embrace creativity and tap into the originality of everyday life. Csikszentmihalyi describes the nature of this book as “a stimulating, thought-provoking kaleidoscope of views about what everyday creativity can involve for people, both individually and together” (p.XI).


The book Everyday Creativity consists of three parts. The first two parts focus on the role of daily creativity in our individual lives and its role in society. In the last part, Richards draws a conclusion and marks an interesting red line that connects different points of views expressed in the book into twelve principal potential benefits of living more creatively. In this part, after all the provocative sideways in the previous chapters, she makes the impact of everyday creativity understandable again.

everyday creativity

Everyday creativity involves meeting just two criteria, defined by Barron, namely: originality and meaningfulness (p.5). This can be in all parts of life or society when we pay attention to the development of two important personality traits: our openness to experience and tolerance of ambiguity. Further, Richards makes it clear that:

“Seen as a process, and even a way of life, our everyday creativity offers whole new ways of thinking, of experiencing the world, and experiencing ourselves. It can pull blinders from our eyes, and bring us alive, making us more conscious participants in our lives, aware of the dynamic of life moving about us.” (p.4).

in our individual lives…

Richards starts Part I by focusing on the healthy benefits of being creative everyday, both physically as mentally. The other authors explore in depth the importance of bravely facing uncertainty in this complex world (Schuldberg), the healing power of viewing art (Zausner) and that viewing television can create new opportunities for new learning (Pritzker). We can look at different stages of consciousness that are affecting our creativity (Combs and Krippner) and Runco shows that our creativity is a vitally important factor when we live our lives in a meaningful way. In this part I the authors show that creativity can have a big influence on our experienced happiness.

creativity in society

Part II stretches the implications of everyday creativity from an individual level into the benefits for a better society. Along unknown parts of Darwin’s evolution theory (Loye), the surprising posture of the Homo Sapiens (Arons), the subtleties of poetry from the East and West (Sundararajan and Averill) and more collaborative learning structures (Goerner), these writers show that everyday creativity is needed to live in societal complexity. The cyber world can offer us new dimensions for this (Abraham), and the power of love will help us to be more creative and more caring (Eisler). All contributors show that the impact of creativity goes beyond the individual benefits.

twelve benefits

For me the main thesis of the book lies in the last chapter. There, it all comes to a focus about the added value of everyday creativity from an individual perspective and with implications for our society. Richards calls this the features that may describe us if we are functioning more creatively. All twelve features start with the sentence “when I am creative I am…”:

I. dynamic: feeling awe as part of complex patterns and finding beauty in this

II. conscious: aware of and attentive to present experience

III. healthy: following a lifestyle with active participation and internal balance

IV. nondefensive: staying alert to restricting forces and working to limit these

V. open: welcoming new experience

VI. integrating: functioning across multiple senses and states of consciousness

VII. observing actively: in dialogue with the observed and demands of the new

VIII. caring: guided by love, compassion and meaning; aware of interconnection

IX. collaborative: working with others toward broader goals

X. androgynous: bridging false dichotomies beyond stereotypes and limits

XI. developing: aware that our personal development and evolution is ongoing

XII. brave: welcoming risks of exploring the unknown and embracing the mystery


In my opinion, what makes the book attractive, is that everyday creativity gets an importance far bigger than what people normally think about this kind of little ‘c’ creativity. The book makes very clear that everyday creativity strongly contributes to a creative attitude and the path of self-actualization. The points of view of Richards and Runco are concrete, applicable and inspiring. The other authors are more academical and theoretical approach in their explorations. But finally their essence is nicely bridged together in the twelve benefits defined by Richards.

The kaleidoscope of writers has expanded my perspectives on everyday creativity, although the chapters were not always relevant and concrete enough for me. The topic is not only an individual challenge to live more creatively. The book shows that everyday creativity influences personal health, and can have a big impact on societal development too. For me it’s no longer a how-to question but also an increased curiosity about the possible extra impact of everyday creativity (and creativity in general) in future life. This book reinforced my thinking about the importance of making everyday creativity understandable, accepted and applicable.


Don’t expect this book to be a practical ‘how-to’ about individual everyday creativity. Most of the contributions have a strong psychological background, are general in their applications or more focused on a societal level. But if you want to understand why people have to be creative and how broad the implications can be for meaningful development of individuals and society, than this book is for you! This kaleidoscope will provoke your thoughts about everyday creativity!


Erik op ten Berg (1963) is a Dutch creativity professional. Since 2001 he works as an independent trainer, facilitator and consultant on creativity and innovation. In 2010 he started studying again at the International Center for Studies in Creativity in Buffalo. Topics of his interest are climate, intuition, keeping originality alive, leadership and everyday creativity. Erik loves nature, labyrinths, traveling around the world, his wife, his three children and eating risotto with parmesan cheese.


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