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Chapter 10 - Everyday Creativity  pp. 189-215

Everyday Creativity

By Ruth Richards

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One may ask: Would we humans value everyday creativity more – the “originality of everyday life” – if we knew how much it could do for us, for example, improve our physical and psychological health, boost our immune function, and give us greater life satisfaction and meaning? In fact, there is evidence for this and more (e.g., Richards, 2007a, in press-a; Runco & Pritzker, 1999).

Everyday creativity can be operationally defined using only two product criteria (after Barron, 1969): first, originality (or relative rarity of a creation within a given reference group) and, second, meaningfulness (being comprehensible to others, not random or idiosyncratic, and thus being socially meaningful). Everyday creativity thus defined appears to offer value for human beings over time and culture (Abraham, 2007; Arons, 2007; Eisler, 2007; Sundararajan & Averill, 2007). It is not possible to cover everything about everyday creativity (see edited volumes by Runco & Richards, 1998, and Richards, 2007a, for further perspectives). Rather, this chapter is structured around four key issues:

  • The construct of everyday creativity. Its features and adaptive basis are described, along with one assessment approach, including a focus on both creative product and creative process, at work and at leisure.
  • Healthy benefits of everyday creativity. Varied healthy benefits are considered, followed by seemingly paradoxical findings on creativity and illness.
  • Alternative ways of knowing and creativity. Diverse perspectives on intuition and creative insight provide added perspective on everyday creative process, and even on certain of the earlier health benefits.
  • “Creative normalcy” versus conformity in everyday life. Societal norms are considered toward healthier applications of everyday creativity, avoidance of its “dark side,” and work toward greater human benefit.
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