Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


It's a loaded word.

Some people claim it for themselves. Some are given it by others.

Oh, that Steve Jobs, he was so creative.

You might have your own definition of what it really means.

Is it about having lots of ideas? Is it about having ideas easily? Or is it about having lots of ideas easily?

Whichever you choose, it's not always easy to come up with a creative thought just like that.

History has suggested that humanity's more troubled sorts find it easier to be creative.

Perhaps, though, that's history just trying to make its story more interesting.

Or is it?

As the Washington Post reports, a new piece of research from the University of Southern Denmark suggests that there's a mental state that corresponds with high creativity.

That mental state is known as misery.

Yes, it seems that if you channel your inner Morrissey, you're more likely to conceive something truly original.

Karol Jan Borowiecki, the Danish researcher, decided to examine three famous composers -- Mozart, Beethoven and Liszt.

He got hold of their letters, written to lovers and other loved ones, to see what they were writing about at the peak of their powers.

He used linguistic analysis software -- charmingly modern, that -- to see whether patterns of cheeriness or dark-sidedness could be discerned.

His conclusion was that when Wolfgang, Ludwig and Franz were negative, grouchy and crabby they produced their finest works.

I wouldn't for a moment suggest you should make yourself miserable simply in order to have a good idea or two.

Science, though, suggests it may not hurt.

And doesn't being happy relegate you to a certain complacency? Isn't there a temptation to just embrace that happiness for as long as you can?

There's something about deep-seated, all-encompassing despair at the world that makes you want to save it. Or at least to contribute something that you feel might add a tiny sliver of light.

Perhaps true creativity is a scream in the darkness, an ululation in the direction of the moon.

Looking around the current state of the world, you might imagine that this ought to be an era of vast creativity.

I worry, however.

When vast minds are creating apps through which you can get other people to pick up your dog's poop, perhaps we're not quite heading in the most hopeful creative direction.

There's another problem that's more specific to us in America.

We're culturally ordered to exude positivity, optimism and smile with recently blanched teeth.

Heaven knows this doesn't mean we're not miserable now.

Our difficulty, though, might lie in not being able to believe in and embrace our misery as much as these great composers did.

I must go now. Writing this has made me a touch melancholy.