Creative Process and Happiness Theory

December 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Czmenzintmihalyi’s idea of Flow claims that it is enjoying the journey of an activity that produces the most satisfying experience rather than focusing on the outcome.

He has scientific studies to back up his idea and the concept is widely accepted in the positive psychology community.

The idea of Flow, and the other psychologists’ takes on it, back up the Goldsmiths way of teaching design: that it is about the process, not the outcome only. This is the part to be enjoyed. Striving for a great outcome without enjoying the creative process often makes for an unhappy project. Creativity is fuelled by positive moods: divergent thinking is greater when one is in a good mood.

Of course, part of the creative process is editing down ideas, and for this it can be good to be in a pessimistic mood. Negative moods make better editors out of us.

I’m sure it’s not just Goldsmiths that teaches students to focus on the process rather than just the outcome when communicating their work; I believe it is part of the Central St Martin’s Fine Art course too, a few of my friends go there. It’s affirming to see that an idea you thought was good is backed up by scientific studies. Focusing on the process in design rather than the outcome makes you happier, and therefore more creative, and therefore probably produce better work.


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