Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

#creativity #psychological safety #devotion #humbleness

In this charming 19-min piece the author of Eat, Pray, Love shares with us a couple of brilliant ideas about creative genius. For her, we’re all creative souls already, we just need to figure out how to harness inspiration and unleash the creative spirit within. As she says: “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person”.

So your task is to figure out what is that you really love more than yourself and without fearing failure, start making something with it. You’re not a genius, rather you have a genius, and this genius requires you to put a lot of work and care in it so that something can come out of it. This something can be great or less so, it doesn’t matter for now. Your part of the job is to work hard and diligently, the rest is someone else’s responsibility as it was conceived quite wisely by the ancient Romans and Greeks. If you have a creative mind, then you have to feed the animal within to keep your mental health intact otherwise if it has nothing to play with, it will turn on itself. So give your dog a job, and don’t worry about whether the outcome is magnificent or eternal, whether it changes people’s lives, whether it changes the world, whether it changes you, whether it’s original, whether it’s groundbreaking, whether it’s marketable. Just give the dog a job, and you’ll have a much happier life, regardless of how it turns out. Stop complaining and get to work.

Well, a little conversation with your fear when it starts to get riled up when you are trying to do something creative, would of course not hurt. However avoid going to war against it, because that’s anyhow would only be a waste of energy eating up your inner resources. Just converse a bit with your fear when it arises and then move on. Like, …..hey pal, I am about to accomplish this and this without freaking out, just simply putting some work into the idea, any objection?……… Similarly you also should not aim for perfection as it is the death of all good things: death of pleasure, productivity, efficiency and joy. Of course there’s nothing wrong with trying to make your work as good as it can be – but there’s a really big difference between “as good as it can be” and perfection!

Today’s workplace is abundant with those types of jobs, the specification of which require in the first place creativity (see the magic 4K skills for future jobs in my post here). So it’s time to embrace the attitude that in creative jobs frustration is not an interruption of the process, but it is the process itself! As Gilbert puts it: “You guys, you’re mistaking the whole process, because the thing that you’re in love with, and that you’ve gotten infatuated with, is that moment in your creative process when everything is working — all the cylinders are firing at full speed, and the inspiration is flowing, and it feels really easy, and it’s fun, and it’s delightful. And that’s the aberration. That moment of smooth, easy grace where everything is going great — that is not the normal. That is the miracle that happens every once in a while if you’re very lucky. The frustration, the hard part, the obstacle, the insecurities, the difficulty, the “I don’t know what to do with this thing now,” that’s the creative process. And if you want to do it without encountering frustration and difficulty, then you’re not made for that line of work.”

Gilbert also reveals how she began to comprehend the strange and unlikely psychological connection between the way we experience great failure and the way we experience great success. In both cases, it turns out that there is the same remedy for self-restoration: namely „you have got to find your way back home again as swiftly and smoothly as you can, and if you’re wondering what your home is, here’s a hint: your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.” This gives you the psychologial safety you need to keep your balance and mental health intact. So if you haven’t done it already, go and find what your real love and motivation is, i.e. dig down deep and identify your core which gives you safety regardless of whether the outcome guarantees success to you or not. „And if you should someday, somehow get vaulted out of your home by either great failure or great success, then your job is to fight your way back to that home by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next”. It is humbleness that gives you the strength you need to survive and to move forward.

So, guys, let’s all of us have a nice journey full of creativity!

Kelly McGonial: How to make stress your friend?

Kelly McGonial: How to make stress your friend?

#stress #oxytocin #humanconnection #biologyofcourage

Health psychologist Kelly McGonial of Stanford reveals unexpected ways of how you can make friends with stress instead of falling prey to it.

In a study which tracked 30.000 adult in the United States for eight years, two questions were asked from people:

  1. How much stress have you experienced in the last year? and
  2. Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?

And then they used public death records to find out who died. As you can expect, people who have experienced a lot of stress, had a higher risk to die. But surprisingly,

only those people died who also viewed stress as harmful for their health.

In the study, people who had high stress but believed that stress is not bad, but helpful for them, had the lowest risk of anyone of dying! This means that stress just by itself should not have detrimental effects on your health, it all depends on how you narrate what is going on in your body when you are experiencing the symptoms of breathing faster, stronger pounding of your heart or perhaps breaking out into a sweat. In other words,

if you change your mind about stress, your body will change its reactions to it too.

McGonial goes on describing on neurophysiological level how stress can make you more social. Part of your stress response is releasing a hormone, which is well known for aspects of cuddling and supporting and caring for others, but less for the fact that it is also a stress hormone: oxytocin.

When oxytocin is released under stress, it is motivating you to seek comfort and approach others. Clearly when life is difficult, you want to be surrounded by people who care about you and your body helps you reaching your goal by pumping up sufficient biological fuel to act accordingly.

Oxytocin also helps your blood vessels stay relaxed during stress, which makes you healthier and recover faster from stress. And when your action of reaching out to others is in place, your body releases even more oxytocin: a marvellous example of how your mind and body can work together hand in hand leading to the desired outcome. The coolest side of this is that not only asking for support, but caring for others had the same effect on people as another study showed. Another brilliant proof that human connection can save lives, and caring creates resilience. If you want to understand this and to dive deeper into the topic of how to become better at stress management, I strongly recommend you to watch the whole video!