If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR, points out that most creative people start out trying to produce amazing things in a medium they love. They also start out with a high taste level. Their initial product does not live up to that high taste level, they know it’s not good. Most people never get past the point of producing things that don’t live up to their own judgement. How do you keep going until what you produce is actually good enough to please even you?
Great video that will help you through difficult times.
I was watching Inside the Actors Studio the other day and it struck me that even though its host, James Lipton, is sycophantic to the extreme, it’s certainly not surprising that people want to do his show. After all, people in the public eye are constantly judged, critiqued and have their work diminished. Instead of feeding already huge egos, don’t you think that some of the actors almost look at doing the show as a vacation from their own inner-critic?
We could all use a break like that. I had a thought. Why not make up your own little James Lipton and let him live in your head? You don’t have to talk to him all the time, maybe you can imagine him a little one room apartment to wait in until you need him. But, when you need him he’ll be there.
At your darkest moment, call him forth. He’ll appear with his stack of cards and list of adjectives to describe how fabulous you actually are. Fantastic! Amazing! SUPER! In fact, your little James Lipton can’t help but think that you are perhaps the most amazing person he has ever met.
And those cards, such information! He has every single thing that you have ever done that he admires. There are things on those cars that you’ve forgotten or might be slightly embarrassed about, but he’s there to make you forget any nervousness. Remember, in his eyes you are fantastic.
While he’s there, you can ask him about anything you’re working on. He will love it. He will think it’s amazing. You have topped yourself!
Then, when you feel your butt has been suitably kissed and your ego stroked, he’ll ask you a few questions and then go back to his little apartment. (What is your favorite curse word? What turns you on?) Then, refreshed and confident you can go back to the harsh realities of the real world.
Right now, my little James Lipton is sitting in his apartment wearing a bathrobe, eating crackers and watching soap operas. He’s waiting until I need him again.
Successful creative people have boundless enthusiasm for their work. It gives them pleasure even if it’s difficult or painful. They are swept away in a trance that causes them to deny any doubts they might have about what they are doing.
The word “enthusiast” originally meant a person possessed by a divine being. In other words, a feeling beyond faith or doubt. Being an enthusiast meant becoming one with the object of your belief.
Do you have enthusiasm for your work?
Put yourself aside while you work and literally become possessed by your idea. You will have no doubt, because you aren’t discovering something outside yourself, you are just describing what you have momentarily become.
We’ve all heard about characters who take over stories or pieces of wood that tell a sculptor what shape they contain. These are just descriptions of the momentary possession of enthusiasm.
Use your moments of doubt during revision, but during creation be an enthusiast.
People often think of creativity as making something up. Making something up is also how people describe telling a lie.
Instead of putting all that effort into making something up, the next time your stuck just tell the truth. Set aside the idea of trying to please other people or trying to appeal to them. Be completely honest with yourself.
It isn’t easy to be honest, but certainly it’s less effort than making something up.
Once you know how you feel about something, you can start to decide the best style to express it.
The truth will make you unique. Trying to say what you think people want to hear will make you mediocre.
There are corporations out there spending billions of dollars to make you buy what they have to sell. They are pitching you toothpaste, cars and movie stars constantly. There is hardly a place left in the world that isn’t covered in advertising. Why not use all this propaganda as an opportunity to advertise for yourself? Surely you can use the same advertising methods to fill your brain with how awesome you are.
Spend a little time today designing advertising for yourself! Make a poster of yourself with just the word “genius” at the bottom. Here’s a website where you can use to do it easily. Then, write your bio as if you had a high-powered PR agent who puts a positive spin on everything. Leave out anything you want and make sure that anything positive is slightly exaggerated.
In fact, write a whole campaign commercial that you can play in your head. Start with your rough beginnings. No matter how good you had it, make it sound like you had to struggle. Then, pick out every positive thing you have done to work toward your goals. Hire that guy who does all the movie trailers to talk about how great you are in an over the top way. Let the commercial end with you surrounded by your greatest accomplishments.
Don’t stop there. Project yourself in the place of products in all the advertising you see or hear. All the adjectives they attach to the product actually apply to you! You are sweet-smelling, delicious and you can help people save money on their mortgage!
Every instance you see today where someone is trying to make you feel good about their product, turn it into an opportunity to make you feel good about yourself.
Take control over the propaganda in your life!
This NY Times article has some interesting observations about why people find things funny. It also talks about the neurological basis for laughter and how scientists tracked down the primal laugh in rats, their laughter is an ultrasonic chirp, and monkeys.
He and Professor Provine figure that the first primate joke — that is, the first action to produce a laugh without physical contact — was the feigned tickle, the same kind of coo-chi-coo move parents make when they thrust their wiggling fingers at a baby. Professor Panksepp thinks the brain has ancient wiring to produce laughter so that young animals learn to play with one another. The laughter stimulates euphoria circuits in the brain and also reassures the other animals that they’re playing, not fighting.
“Primal laughter evolved as a signaling device to highlight readiness for friendly interaction,” Professor Panksepp says. “Sophisticated social animals such as mammals need an emotionally positive mechanism to help create social brains and to weave organisms effectively into the social fabric.”
Their conclusion is that laughter is a social lubricant and that who and what you laugh at reveals your spot in the social pecking order.
The article also contains an extremely unfunny muffin joke.
Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the Flaming Lips,on NPR’s Morning Edition describes how he feels humans have the power to make their own moments of happiness.
I believe this is something all of us can do: Try to be happy with the context of the life we are actually living. Happiness is not a situation to be longed for or a convergence of lucky happenstance. Through the power of our own minds, we can help ourselves.