I am a big fan of Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. In case you need a refresher, Erikson (1902-1994) was a developmental psychologist who was known for his theory of human development. He said that all humans go through distinct stages of personal development at different times across our lifespans. At each stage, there is a conflict that must be resolved before we can move on to the next stage and develop further.
- Stage 1: Trust vs. Mistrust (Infancy)
- Stage 2: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (Early childhood)
- Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt (Preschool)
- Stage 4: Industry vs. Inferiority (School age)
- Stage 5: Identity vs. Confusion (Adolescence)
- Stage 6: Intimacy vs. Isolation (Young Adult)
- Stage 7: Generativity vs. Stagnation (Middle Adulthood)
- Stage 8: Integrity vs. Despair (Older Adulthood)
Erikson’s 7th stage is called Generativity vs Stagnation. This occurs in middle adulthood, around age 40-65. During this stage, adults strive to ‘generate’ new things, and strive to contribute to society in a positive way. Often, this stage corresponds to raising children to grow into productive adults or contributing to society by volunteering for a charity–essentially creating something that will outlast one’s lifetime. I think this stage also includes the urge many of us feel for creativity. Essentially, to ‘generate’ something new: writing a new story, composing a new song, coming up with a new recipe or a creating a new piece of art.
Although I feel like I have been in this stage all my life, only more recently have a felt a much stronger push to create. I am not sure exactly why. Perhaps I am trying not to be stagnant in this stage and want to level-up to stage 8:) Perhaps I have more time to create as my kids are older and need me less. Perhaps I just enjoy the act of creating.
I love to read books about the creative process and creative people. I wonder if there is some secret that all these creative people follow. Are people born with this natural curiosity? Do they develop the creative habit as they age?
Here, I listed my top 10 books about creativity. My favorite was ‘Daily Rituals: How artists work.’ This book is a collection of 161 quick 1-page summaries of the daily habits of various creative people: Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, and many more. It’s a fascinating collection of daily routines: What time did they wake up? How many hours did they work? How did they arrange their days? After reading this book I tried to see if there was something in common all of these people did. There were some common themes amongst these creatives 1) many went outside daily in nature, usually to walk and clear their mind 2) many spent hours every day reading books 3) many had a daily schedule that they stuck to 4) many used mind-altering substances to help their creative process (drugs or alcohol).
Hope that you enjoy my list and encourage you to be more creative in your lives!