Do we have to be sad to be creative?

According to a recent study, you are more likely to be creative when you are sad. The researcher examined the personal letters of three artists — Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt — which revealed a link between their melancholy and peak creativity. Whether it was financial troubles or death of loved ones, these artists coped with their problems by producing more work to express themselves.

Using econometrics, he calculates that a 9.3 percent increase in negative emotions leads to a 6.3 percent increase in works created in the following year.

Is negativity a prerequisite to creativity? Not exactly, but it helps.

In Nancy Andreasen’s book The Creating Brain: The Neuroscience of Genius (Amazon), she finds that the writers reported increased creativity from their ability to detach themselves from their negative states.

they could look back on their periods of depression or mania with considerable detachment. They were also able to describe how abnormalities in mood state affected their creativity. Consistently, they indicated that they were unable to be creative when either depressed or manic.

Mood does not dictate an artist’s palette. Depressed people are not necessarily more creative, but they can use their pain to fuel new ways of thinking — the same way a happy person converts their cheerfulness into increased productivity. Perhaps both happiness and sadness result from deploying our human intelligence to act creatively.

Related: In another study, people that post bluer, greyer, and darker pictures on Instagram “reveal predictive markers of depression.”. However, what if that is just the way those Instagrammers see the world, especially if they are colorblind? Moreover, it could be the fame-seeking that’s at the root of their unhappiness.

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