Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Inspiration, personality, creativity

I've been away for a while now. Not really away because I am working on some blog posts that are not yet complete.

Last week, on a whim, I did some research on personality types and took some personality tests. I got slightly different results on some of them but there were certain consistent patterns. It was fascinating to read about the sixteen different personality types as described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
This is a theory that was postulated by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, based on the work of the famous psychotherapist, Carl Jung. There is another system called the Enneagram, that has nine basic personality types.

I took MBTI style tests on a few sites:





Of course, I think that these tests should be taken with a grain of salt just like astrology profiles. The Myers-Briggs test is far more scientific than an astrology profile but humans in general are complex. A psychological portrait tells one more about one's proclivities, talents and latent gifts as well as chinks in the psychological armor, however, in my humble opinion, it cannot map someone's abilities one hundred percent.
As for me, I got more inspiration and encouragement to continue writing and explore my other interests. I am not telling you which type I lean towards the most, I'll leave that up to you.

Next, I embarked upon a creativity test. You can try it here. I must confess that I was somewhat disappointed with the results. I was hoping that I would be rated as more creative:).

I was wondering - do our upbringing and education play a part in growing or hindering our inherent creativity? I feel a big resounding YES. Not only the education system but the surrounding culture.

When I first came to the United States, I was awed by the number of new books penned by random people from different walks of life and promoted on talk shows on TV. Equally inspiring was the number of newly patented inventions advertised on TV, yeah, the kind that tells you to buy in the next ten minutes for less than $20.00 or pay five times as much later.
Well, it's not the buy-now-or-else clause of the advertising that blew me over but the sheer number of ordinary people who were inventors. True, their inventions may not be on the scale of Marconi (radio) or Gutenberg (the printing press) but they are impressive nevertheless.
There are common problems that are faced in everyday life, for example, overflowing closets that are a nightmare of chaos and disorganization. Enter a vacuum bag to seal 10x the number of clothes that can fit in one cubic foot than just regular folding and stacking. This is just one example.

Have you thought about the humble safety pin? It is not so common in the US but in India, it is ubiquitous. In fact, a safety pin is a must-have accessory for every Indian woman, helping keep her sari pleats in place, "dupatta" (shawl) of the salwar kameez on her shoulder and substituting as an emergency clip for everything from stubborn, bent hooks of a brassiere or a blouse to missing buttons on a shirt. I have seen my own mother carrying them around like pendants on her wedding chain.
Broken sandals are hastily mended with a safety pin clutching the discordant straps so that the wearer can get home without having to go barefoot.
Here is a scandalous secret. The salwar kameez (women's outfit with a long tunic, loose pants and a covering scarf-like garment on the top) or kurta-pyjama in India (long tunics worn with loose pants by both men and women) are typically fastened at the waist by tying a knot with a string known as the "naada". Ditto for sari petticoats.
Often, one end of the "naada" gets pulled into the slot thus making knot tying impossible. Imagine this scenario in a public place! Another nightmare is the "naada" knot getting so tight that one can't untie it thus inducing a panic attack in a toilet. Only a knife or pair of scissors or Houdini with nails as long and sharp as a comic book evil character can snap the "naada" or in the latter case, untie it.
If you happen to be someone that is paranoid about germs and trims their nails regularly, woe unto you.

That's where our little hero, the safety pin comes in. My mother taught me how to insert a string into a slot using a safety pin when I was very young. If you have to cut the string, then a safety pin can hold the billowing ends of your "pyjama" together until you get home or can change.
Now one can understand why it is called the "safety" pin.

A few years ago, the famous model Elizabeth Hurley made waves when she showed up at an event wearing a Versace dress that was held together with safety pins.
Cheers to Walter Hunt, the inventor of the safety pin (thanks to Wikipedia).

Another commonplace invention that we now take for granted is the zipper. Had it not been for this, I guess, to tweak a famous phrase, we would all be having our "naadas" in a  twist. Google Doodle celebrated the inventor of the zipper, Gideon Sundback, recently. In fact, that's how I got to know about him.

Check out this page on inspiring inventions. Speaking of inspiring, there is this prodigal 15 year old boy, Jack Andraka, who has come up with an invention that could make early cancer detection much cheaper, helping to save many more lives (courtesy of Forbes).

Hope we all make use of our latent inventive skills, in small ways and large.