Creativity is a state of mind

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So when I hear people say things like- I am not creative- I sometimes wish they knew that creativity is a state of mind.

If you are human, you feel, think, you laugh, cry, sing, you are creative. It just depends on whether you will vote for yourself; and that’s the scary part, putting a little of your naked self out there for people to see, and poke at and possibly hurt. But that’s also where it gets fun.

I was thinking today about how creativity is interesting because it exists in that space where the world is not perfect.

If the world was perfect we would not need inventions, we wouldn’t feel the longing that we write poetry about. I guess we would still feel happiness, but without the longing for more wouldn’t even that be boring?

Its funny how your own unique perception of the imperfection of the world can be a starting place to find your life’s task. Whether it is the entrepreneur bringing a solution to a problem, a scientist discovering something new, or an artist capturing humanity in a way that touches you deeply. Its all about 1) taking life in and 2) imagining yourself as a solution 3) taking a little step in that direction.

It is not enough to experience and complain about life. After a while you come to that state of mind where you realize that maybe that longing inside of you, that angst, that discontent can bring something new to the table. Just what if…?

So if you think you are not creative, let me give you three challenges this week to prove yourself wrong.

1. When you find something that irks you, or maybe makes you sad, think about what you might do about it, however little, and do it.

2)You know all those ideas you had that you used to call stupid? Try putting words to them, writing them down, sharing them with someone instead of judging them before they even come out of your mouth or your pen. Try taking just one step toward that your ‘weird’ idea.

3) Do something little to take initiative to bring you closer to your dream self; maybe introduce yourself to someone new, notice someone looking lost and offer to help them, maybe rearrange your house, maybe compliment someone, maybe join a group that interests you.

Stop judging yourself for feeling. Even if it does not change anything at least it changes you.

Stop judging your fetal ideas, embrace the process of learning that the world is quite pliable and that your ideas have a place in remoulding it.

Its not about magnificent inventions and earth shattering prose, its all about the little things and voting for yourself in all those little ways.

So this week, step up to the plate and be a solution even if it is in a little way.

Creativity is a state of mind.

Why your boring job is perfect for you

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There are so many interesting things going on in our time in terms of how much more of a space there is for contributing creatively to the world versus back in the day when everything was about mass producing. In that sense I feel like there is room for us to all give our unique contribution to the world.

However truth be told, on the way to that there are so many loops and turns, and I am sure that at some point you can find yourself in a situation that seems so far from where you plan to be, and you just wonder, what am I going to do with all my ideas? Am I even any step closer to my dreams? I’ve been there many times.

I was reading about the example I gave in number 3 below that sparked this post and I thought I should share.  So here are my thoughts on my tongue in cheek title 🙂

First of all, a boring job is a great way to know what you do NOT want to do with your life.

Most of us seem to be comfortable but not excited, possibly living a decent life but not our best lives. At least YOU feel something even if it is tedium or frustration. Sometimes we need that extra push and this can be just what you need to finally overcome your fears and take the risk of giving your dreams a shot.

Secondly, your boring job just might be freeing up your mental energy for your passion.

While waiting for something more fulfilling, this is the perfect time to redirect your mental energy into creative expression. Since your emotional energy is not being fully tapped by your job, you have more than enough of it to focus on the things you are truly passionate about.

Albert Einstein did the exact same thing. When he graduated in 1900 at the bottom of his class, he could not get a job as a teacher for obvious reasons. However his father offered him an engineering job, and he also had the opportunity of getting a lucrative job in insurance but he turned both down because he didn’t want that to drain his mental energy (isn’t that interesting?).

Instead he took a boring job in a patent office where he would just be analyzing applications. Doing this sharpened his reasoning skills; also because it was so mundane he was able to do it quickly and then focus on his own ideas while at work. It was while working this boring job that he did most of the work that would be his theory of relativity.

Maybe there could be an opportunity for your own personal learning goals while working a boring job? Something to think about.

Thirdly, a boring job might be an opportunity for fresh insight. 

Remember the boring article I was reading? It was about the history of public health. I don’t like history BUT, I read about an interesting story from the 1700s. Back then scientists were still arguing about what causes food to go bad. A scientist called Lazzaro Spallanzani discovered that you could prevent things from spoiling by keeping them in air tight conditions and applying heat. While scientists were still debating this (then they didn’t believe microbes were in the air), a distiller and confectioner in Paris took this idea and applied it to his business in the food industry to preserve food and wine. While the scientific world was catching up to reality a Parisian businessman was using this discovery in the food industry.

Sometimes staying stuck in one field keeps you narrow-minded. Getting out of it even if it is due to a mundane job can give you fresh inspiration. Think about it; sometimes the most creative ideas come from people completely out of the field.

So there you go. Even though you might feel stuck and stifled in your creativity or personal fulfilment, maybe there is some value in the mundane if you look closely enough. Your boring job might just be watering those seeds of greatness in you. Maybe the question is not about your circumstances but about whether you will still go to work in pursuing those things dear to you that the world just might be waiting for.

Do you have any more reasons to add? How did you get something generative out of a mundane circumstance?

Are you feeling uninspired and stuck? How doing nothing can win you a Nobel Prize

I have been trying to get on top of my fitness lately so I joined a gym nearby and I had a fitness assessment with one of the trainers. During our chat I discovered the importance of rest to our productivity.

The trainer told me the importance of working out just to the point where your body feels challenged but can handle it. If you try to work out and push your body even when its tired, you might feel like you achieved something, but your body will not learn from it because your body is now using the anaerobic stores of energy.

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What you want to do instead is to consistently work out your body just to the point where you feel like you are doing work but you are still focused and then take a break. That way you are training your body to be able to learn to do more work while in the aerobic phase.

Now in between all of these comes the importance of rest. The trainer helped me understand how rest works for the body.

Rest is when your body learns and does better. So if you are overexerting yourself everyday in order to build muscle but don’t give your body maybe a day in-between every other 3 days, your body will not have enough time to learn from this exercise in order to build the capacity that you need.

Same thing with gaining inspiration or learning a new skill or being creative. Rest is a very crucial phase for inspiration to happen.

History is filled with people that got inspiration during times of rest. Paul McCartney was said to get his song in a dream, Stephen King the writer was said to get some of his stories in his dream, a dream helped Kekule the scientist figure out the structure of benzene, Frankenstein the popular novel character was inspired by a dream. The pianist George Gershwin got his inspiration for his composition not just when he was writing but out and about- from taxi horns in Paris.

Last but not the least, Otto Loewi got the inspiration for his experiment on neurotransmission from a dream and ended up winning a Nobel-prize for it. The list goes on and on but I’m sure you get the point by now.

The key is to first of all work that idea or skill you are trying to build to a point where you are challenged but not exhausted, then take some rest and let your body learn and translate this information from bare information to insight.

Working out yourself mentally, physically or emotionally to the point where you lose focus and skill is counterproductive. Not challenging yourself either and just having a breeze is also equally counter productive. The key is to toe that line in-between.

So if you have worked so hard and now you are feeling stuck, do yourself a favour- rest, sleep, or just get some down time and you might be surprised to find that aha! you have been looking for when you least expect it.

Have you ever had any great ideas while doing something completely different?

Leave me a comment.

Oh and here is George Gershwin’s composition I talked about to jumpstart your rest hehe;)

Life-giving rituals

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Having to do this blog everyday I find myself gravitating toward places that are full of energy and life to find people out- and- about who will be interesting.

It does change up my routine a bit and also makes me think about my other routines. What are the everyday mundane things that actually make up my life? What habits do I have, what things do I do without even thinking? These are the mundane rituals that can make or break us.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ talks about the rituals of successful people. He notes that most ‘lucky’ people had circumstances that allowed them lots and lots of hours of dedicated practice in order to develop mastery at whatever they are now successful at.

I also read an article where President Obama talks about his rituals and how he tries to streamline his life as much as possible so he doesn’t have to take up too much mental energy in thinking about mundane things. His rituals free him up to make other more important decisions with his mental energy and creativity.

Rituals can actually be good for us because they can energize us or distract us.

They fall into different classes- from mental rituals (the thought processes we are stuck in) to the way we spend our time on auto-pilot, to the people we spend our time with, the things we do in our downtime, to the rituals we develop to manage or neglect our health.

Are your rituals life-giving or thoughtless?

Are you actually proactively streamlining your life processes so that they enable you to be productive, to work on your dreams, build relationships, build proficiency in desired areas, be healthier, use your time wiser, grow financially, spiritually, mentally etc?

Before we know it, another year is gone and if we don’t plan to make it a successful one, we will find that we might end up turning our unfulfilled resolutions into yet another set of new year’s resolutions in 2014.

I have had fun changing up my rituals lately and it has helped me add some more life-giving rituals in line with my values and goals for the year as well.

Check out this talk by Tony Robbins on raising your standards and changing your rituals. I enjoyed it.

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