Creativity is in being. And if you’re not connected to your beingness, life will always feel harder than it needs to.
Time and time again, when life feels really, really hard (and it does sometimes), it’s because I’m blocked from my creativity. I can only see the thing I’m looking at one way, when what I really need to do is to see in a multitude of ways. And that’s when the obvious and simple solutions present themselves.
This isn’t about rushing life, it’s about really living life.
Because my life is largely creative – or at least, that’s how I look at it regardless of where I am and what I’m doing – I work to keep myself in a creative mind space, and focus less on the difficulties I face. Because if I focus on the difficulties, I keep creativity out. Whereas if I maintain my creative muscles, I find that there’s less that I find difficult.
And if I get a really hard hit in life, the one thing that I do is never deny myself the same compassion that I would show another human being in my situation.
So keeping myself creative, isn’t airy-fairy nor for the faint of heart. And here are my seven top strategies:
1. I talk nice to myself.
Yup. I don’t yell at myself or call myself an idiot when I screw up. I also don’t “warn” myself that “the other shoe is going to drop” when I’m having a good time. I decline to fear monger myself because I’ve been alive long enough and have had enough experience to see that things weren’t always how I thought they were. They were just, how they were.
When life feels good, I say, “Enjoy this. This too shall pass.” When life feels bad, I say, “Learn from this. This too shall pass.” And sometimes, I end up learning from the times in life that I find enjoyable and find myself enjoying the difficult things mostly because I see them less as good or bad.
If I catch myself being mean to myself during something particularly trying, I see that for what it is. It means that I’ve been going too hard and canceled any sense of play. And that an accurately chosen playdate for myself returns me to sanity.
2. I detox my thoughts.
Most days. Like 90% of days, I write. It’s 3 pages for me. It’s 12 minutes for other people, but it’s still a shower for my insides. I get the pesky thoughts out of my system so that I have a clear mind for my life. I honor my experience of life rather than push away feelings that seem inconvenient. I might be repetitive in these purge pages, but that’s irrelevant. It’s about the measure of clarity I have from this long-standing practice.
When I first started doing this, I resented doing them. And after a few months, when I didn’t do this, I resented not doing them. Something had changed and it was something I liked. It helped me be nicer to myself day-to-day too.
3. I love my dogs.
Eckhart Tolle once said that dogs were “guardians of being.” I believe that and experience the sensation of my creativity being honored by my dogs. They tell me when it’s time for my walk and they’re never wrong about that. They connect me to myself and we have a community of other people and dogs. It’s great.
I’m not saying that you need a dog, but what I am saying here, is that you need something in your life that feels like a community that honors your spirit as you honor theirs.
4. I walk in the woods.
I feel like I’m aware of the passage of time as the seasons evolve in the trees, earth, ferns, and mosses. The snow, the mud, the dusty dirt, and crunchy leaves are cyclical. I even know an oak tree that I call “my father” and an arbutus that I call “my mother.” And then there’s this other tree that I call “my great friend.” I visit nature and she visits with me. In Japan, this practice is called forest bathing. And all I can say is that it renews me each time and keeps me focused on what matters until the forest and I meet again.
5. I wake up and lie there.
When I wake up in the morning, I lie there in bed and allow my mind to wake and wander (just observing how I am doing). It’s not a long time. Maybe as short as 10 minutes or as long as an hour depending on what is going on in my life in terms of plans. But there’s something very orienting about taking this time.
Waking up is like moving from one realm to another. And to really be present and make use of the day, this practice seems to set the compass within.
6. I keep in touch.
I take photos with my iPhone and use WordSwag to make postcards out of quotes I’ve made up and get them printed through moo.com. I stamp and address all of those postcards at once and put them on the coffee table with a pen.
And then whenever I feel like reaching out, I pick up a postcard and write to that person and on my way out for a dog walk, I make sure I walk by the mailbox (because I had already stamped and addressed the postcard).
Once in awhile, I’ll write someone a long letter instead of sending them a postcard.
I get mail in return, I get offers to come visit, I get visitors, and I get to always remember that we’re all in this world together. At least for now.
Sometimes I even buy pre-made postcards and mail them. I don’t have to be on vacation to send a postcard and I don’t obligate myself to make them. I just like to make them because I like to take pictures. I send mail to people about twice a year. I can hardly describe how wonderful it feels to do this very vintage act.
7. I read. Lots.
I am one of those people that has at least a couple of books on the go. As a Career Counselor, I view reading as my opportunity to network with other writers. It’s all the reason I need to read. And it inspires my own writing as well as my own living creatively.
Conclusions on living creatively (so far) …
I hope this helps you in your life to know that it doesn’t take much to actually cultivate a creativity mindset. Creativity is really, in essence, the act of connecting to the place from whence you came and using that communication to live your life.
Living a creative life is simply the act of learning about the true nature of your existence.
The secret though to the whole act of cultivating creativity, and why we live in a culture that tells ourselves that it’s a waste of time, or that it doesn’t produce results, or that it’s going to ask you to be different than how you are now, is because creativity isn’t something that you can control and so much of what we are doing in the day-to-day is to try to control what we can’t control or have no business trying to control that brings our vitality down.
We’re afraid that if we don’t control everything about us that something will. Something we don’t trust. And that fear was the reality for many of us as children. But being controlled and having a purpose is the difference between coercing and pushing yourself through life versus being lead, drawn, or guided.
Your will is always yours, but it takes courage to acknowledge that that is even the case now when you’re craving the cultivation of creativity rather than practicing the cultivation of it.
Where you fuel, re-tool and attune your imagination. Get your soul to work (on purpose). Ruthless compassion. Fierce gentleness. Sassy wisdom. And oodles of insight.