Gregory J. Feist: Ways to Boost Happiness Through Creativity | Sero Boost #16

In this episode, host Lu Ngo is joined by Professor Gregory J. Feist, who is a Professor of Psychology in Personality at San Jose State University.

In this episode, Gregory provides insights into how creativity can enhance happiness and offers practical tips on how to harness your creative potential. You will learn about the unique benefits of each form of creativity, especially if you feel like your happiness needs a boost.

Meet Gregory J. Feist

Gregory J. Feist is a Professor of Psychology in Personality at San Jose State University. He has also taught at the College of William & Mary and the University of California at Davis. He received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of California at Berkeley and his undergraduate degree in 1985 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

His research interests include the psychology of creativity, the psychology of science, the development of scientific talent, and motivated reasoning. Feist has won several awards for his research in creativity and personality, including the Berlyne Award from the Division for Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts of the American Psychological Association (APA). 

He has also published several books, including Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind, and co-authored the books Psychology: Perspectives and Connections and Theories of Personality. Gregory is a former President of APA’s Division 10 and has served on the editorial boards of several psychology journals.

About the episode

In this episode with host Lu Ngo, Gregory shared that his view on happiness is that it is a complex and multifaceted concept in psychology that includes both short-term emotions and long-term traits. Happiness is experienced when one makes reasonable progress toward important goals in life that are consistent with one’s values, beliefs, and overall aspirations. 

He argued that happiness is a byproduct of living a fulfilling and meaningful life rather than being something to pursue directly. Therefore, you should focus on searching for meaning and purpose to achieve greater overall happiness and well-being.

Gregory elaborated that creativity is about gaining insight and involves different emotions in various stages. Highly creative people often experience dissatisfaction at the beginning of the process because they notice problems others may not see. This dissatisfaction may relate to themselves or the world and is seen as a challenge to solve. 

After the “Aha” or realization moment, you experience tremendous joy and happiness despite the insight not always leading to a good idea. Gregory believes that happiness can broaden cognitive abilities and that creativity is a way of finding meaning and solutions to problems.

According to Gregory, the creative process can be divided into two stages: idea generation and idea selection/evaluation. Both artists and scientists engage in the idea generation phase, but the difference is in their approach to the second stage. 

For artists, the process of selecting, modifying, and deciding on themes is often more fluid and intuitive, based on a sense of when a work is “right.” In contrast, scientists are more focused on making meaning by understanding the external world. Artists are focused on interpreting and expressing their internal experiences and emotions, while scientists are more analytical in their approach.

In conclusion

Allow your mind to wander and experience all angles of creativity. Two great methods to enhance creativity are physical activity and spending time in nature. Let your ideas flow without being too critical of them, experience all outcomes – whether positive or negative – and mostly enjoy the process. 

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