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Flow and Creativity: What Leonardo da Vinci teaches us!

« Creativity is intelligence having fun! »
- Albert Einstein -

Back from 5 days of seminar on Creativity in Sestri Levante[1], I am filled with energy to share with you my positive discoveries! It is my trainer in Creative Problem Solving who, without knowing it, inspired this article. During this training, she told me about Leonardo da Vinci's creative process demonstrates that the world is not divided between creative and non-creative people, because creating comes from creative strategies unique to each and everyone. Thus, it is possible to awaken the creativity that lies dormant in us, that we mute from time to time, in order to reach more fulfillment and personal well-being[2].

Psychologie Positive Grenoble Camille Lamouille

Leonardo da Vinci played with his environment to stimulate his creative intelligence. This is what Michael Gelb called the “sensazione”, which is one of Leonardo’s seven principles[3]. According to this principle and in order to create a stimulating atmosphere, Leonardo da Vinci filled his studio with elements that would arouse his five senses: he wore velvet clothes to stimulate touch, changed the flowers of his office every day to exalt his sense of smell, worked with music to awaken his hearing, etc ...

What does this tell us about creativity? Well, that creativity can be developed, acquired, awakened, stimulated itself and that it represents one of the major keys to individual and collective happiness.

Psychologie Positive Grenoble Camille Lamouille

Have you ever been so engrossed in an activity that you totally lose track of time, the perception of your environment, or that you are no longer perceiving the messages that your body sends you? hunger, tiredness, overthinking, stress ...? This is known in Positive Psychology as the Flow State. The Flow State is one of the most productive and creative states of mind we are given to feel. Thus creative thinking comes from this optimal experience, this Flow State. Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, a renown researcher in Positive Psychology, inspired from the creative process of great geniuses such as Leonardo da Vinci to achieve this notion of Flow.[4]

One can feel the Flow for example by reading a book, playing sports, playing music, writing ... It is up to everyone to find what activity generates him/her flow. As far as I am concerned, for me it is oil painting. I can paint for hours without realizing that it is already night-time.

Reconnecting yourself to your flow and thus to an optimal and positive creative experience

Psychologie Positive Grenoble Camille Lamouille

allows you to disconnect the mind, to reduce stress, to refocus, to feel joy and fulfillment. Let me tell you a story about myself. a few years ago I went through a breakup, these were painful times as you can imagine. I could not stop aching and overthinking... one of my family members, who knew exactly what would bring me back to my Flow state, set me on an incredible journey: I was to paint a fresco on one of the walls of the house. I spent two days and - almost! - two sleepless nights painting, thinking of nothing else than my creation and feeling some kind of profound well-being. This is an example of what an optimal Flow experience can bring.

It's time to awaken the creativity that lies dormant in us to get more well-being!!

And you, what activity or hobby triggers your Flow? What was the last time you felt the Flow?

« Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating. This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious. »
- John Cleese -

Psychologie Positive Grenoble Camille Lamouille

- Camille Lamouille -

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Psychologie Positive Grenoble Camille Lamouille

[1]CREA Conference 2019, « Embracing Complexity »,

[2]Of course, there are still more creative people than others

[3]Pensez comme Léonard de Vinci, Soyez créatif et imaginatif, Michael J. Gelb, Nouv. Ed, 2005

[4]Creativity : Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ed. Harper Perennial, 2013

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