Chapter 6 from Csikszentimihalyi’s book is all about surroundings and how they can affect the creative work of individuals. This chapter was interesting to read about because it seems to be common knowledge that individuals are more creative in a specific environment. Although, because these environments are unique to each individual means that there is no actual evidence on the topic. The author states, “One cannot answer that question without a controlled experiment, and given the fact that creative works are by definition unique, it is difficult to see how a controlled experiment could ever be performed.”
Csikszentimihalyi tells us that there are three main reasons as to why the place where you live is important to being creative. The first one is “one must be in a position to access the domain in which one plans to work.” An individual does not always have close access to to information, because it is not evenly distributed. It would make sense that I would not be as creative studying marine biology in Iowa, where I would have little resources available compared to somewhere by the ocean. When I was in elementary school, my dream job was to be a fashion designer. Growing up in Iowa and not having the ability to leave, I did not grow up in an information-filled area for that domain. Therefore, this skill and creativity never flourished.
The second reason is that novel stimulation is not evenly distributed.This means that there are specific environments that involve a much greater sense of interaction and activity. These environments help stimulate the mind and create new ideas. In the book they mention Richard Stern studying abroad and all of the new and different things he experienced while he was away. I have always wanted to visit New York City, I haven’t been very far outside of Iowa and the surrounding states. Being able to visit NYC would be a total change in environment and would include a variety of experiences that I have never experienced before. If I were to go visit, it would increase my creativity because of the exposure to a whole new environment with a lot of interaction going on to observe. If I were to just stay in small town Iowa, I would not experience anything new which would make it harder to generate new ideas.
The third and last reason is that access to the field is not evenly distributed in space. The author states, “The centers that facilitate the realization of novel ideas are not necessarily the ones where the information is stored or where the simulation is the greatest.” This gets complicated because you can’t guarantee that a space that will result in novel ideas. This leads back to the fact that everyone’s “place” of creativity varies and is unique. It also shows that depending on what you’re working on, your place of creativity can also change with it.
I agree with Csikszentimihalyi about this topic of how our surroundings can lead to an increase or decrease in creativity. I feel as if it’s the same as being surrounded by motivated and inspired people. When you are around those kind of people, it helps to give you motivation to be like those people. If you are around an environment and people that have no goals or no motivation, that mindset will rub off on yourself. Like I said in a past post, I am an introverted person normally, but can become extroverted in certain situations. Being around other extroverted and motivated people helps me also become more inspired than I am on a normal basis and by myself.