Charm and beauty go a longer way than force and pushing.
This is why I’m a great big advocate of artful living.
Yes, I believe in plans, I do definitely believe in giving 100% and going the extra mile and working intensely on a craft, project or any type of work in deep practice. I’m not a fan of philosophies that require “just your mind” or a somewhat punishing program of rigor and “steps” that feel unnatural as the key to success.
Hands dirty, yes. Diving in, yes. Planning, for sure.
But the thing that I’m not into: feeling frantic, pushing things that make no sense, overdoing it, confusion, force and obsessive overthinking.
On my mind today is the approach to every day that works with charm and beauty – and art and fun- to become productive in glowing, gorgeous ways!
“…frantic, pushing, overdoing it, confusion, force and obsessive-overthinking.”
I’ve done all of the above.
I was raised to believe, from what I could piece together from early 90’s self-help books and my Dad’s motivational cassette tapes of the 80’s, was that without this mega-energized, hyper-active, all-or-nothing, wildly fanatical approach to being “the best” and “peak performance” and all other words that scream a form of self-denial and fixation that is imbalanced that I would never get anywhere in life.
Desperate to leave Secaucus, NJ, and see the world, this fanaticism and self-punishing achievement led me deep into an eating disorder for a decade, into a world of no deep friendships (who had the time?) throughout high school and total burnout in college that I thought would be forever. It took another total meltdown physically to finally shake these ideas out of my head out of necessity.
My personal lessons for myself:
Forcing things to go my way did not bring things my way.
Working obsessively in a robotic manner of thousands of blinding hours was miserable, not sustainable and not bringing me any awesome results.
And… self-denial and hyper-energized, caffeinated, fixated living was extremely unhealthy for me.
In a state of “so… what do I do now?!” I went back to the lessons of art, living around artists and learning life as art not as a race or a battle.
Why we tend to want to go from point A to point B in a direct line makes total sense logically… but logic isn’t the only force at work in art. In fact, if I look back, the coolest things that have happened in my life have happen in between the planned segments, in the spaces and breaks, in random and wonderful ways.
Art isn’t point A to point B. Neither are any of the great things I have experienced.
When I started sinking into life as art again, I found that I was naturally prolific, that my ideas were my own again, that there was so much excitement in a day, that I had time for naps, that I could dream more… and, yes, I did exponentially better in every way.
Here are a few things you might want to try if you find yourself in a state of stuckness, forcing and unhappiness instead of more flow and relaxed creativity…!
Stop over scheduling yourself. If there’s no space between A and B, your mind won’t have time to process what’s happening, your energy fields won’t know how to shuffle and combine and synergize ideas and you’ll find yourself feeling robotic and creatively stuck.
Hang out around art & make it. Simple stuff. We are all artists.
Daydream every day. This is where lots of powerful mind processes happen to keep your brain at it’s best!
Learn to breathe more. Catch the shallow breathing and do a few minutes of DEEP breaths!
Make things more beautiful. Part of the reason every paper I wrote at Stanford was at least a week late was that it had to be an art project. Without imagery, binding, paint, nail polish, paper textures… it didn’t fully communicate my synthesis of art and style. So, I created this stuff and cobbled it all together for every project. I forgot about this for a while and felt that everything was going downhill, so now… its art first. It’s a needed ingredient. Adding a dash of color, fun fabric, more light… tie a scarf to your old purse, learn to dye your curtains… knit yourself pillows… paint walls… beautify your computer desktop, your phone… It’s all crafty, simple and fun, and it doesn’t need to cost lots of money.
Keep clearing life of the ideas that it should be hard-driving, racing to the finish line (um, I mean, what is the finish line and what happens when you win?), self-denying and packed with non-stop action. Relax into the idea that you can actually create more if it’s your unique way of creating… that it’s OK to deviate off the step-by-step plan, that there’s room for brilliant accidents and happy coincidences and fun.
Life as art is way more sustainable, enjoyable, brilliant and illuminating!
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