Here we go again. Our world is changing, in big and little ways. It’s the end of the school year, a new season approaches, and new technologies and troubles are surrounding us. Whether you are a kindergartener or graduate, a leader or a worker, a mom or dad, a singleton, newly coupled, or a long-term pair, change is part of life. Sometimes change comes to you unbidden. You may choose simple changes or hard ones. Sometimes you choose to become your true self.
If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.“
Change is Hard
Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
Bet you knew that already. Yet most of us hold some level of dread about change. Change is hard.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
The Challenge of Change
You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”
No matter who you are, how you identify, where you live, how old you are—you will face change. You can try to ignore it. You can try to hold on to your old ways of being. Painfully, change will still happen and you will have missed an opportunity.
We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.”
How hurtful it can be to deny one’s true self and live a life of lies just to appease others.”
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
Keep an Open-mind
If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.”
If you embrace change as an opportunity, you allow yourself to receive blessings and challenges with grace and strength.
When in doubt, choose change.”
Each moment is perfect and heaven-sent, in that each moment holds the seeds for growth.”
Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.”
Yes, change can be scary. It can hold difficulties and feel overwhelming. If it feels too big, too much, too everything—get help. Help comes in many forms. It can mean journaling, talking to a trusted partner or friend or mentor. Or reading a post like this.
Sometimes, you may need professional help.
If you simply need someone to talk to, click here or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”
We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
Change Takes Time
Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.”
Change is like a seed. A seed must receive nourishment and time to grow into a seedling, then unfurl leaves, and finally to grow into its full potential. Even adjusting to the change in weather or wardrobe or a new home, change takes time. Give yourself grace. Allow yourself the time you need.
Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping.“
Appreciate Where You Are
Each step of your journey through change brings you new joys and fears. Appreciate your flexibility and your strength and the growth that brought you to this new level.
When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you…never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Believe in Yourself
Change will challenge you, maybe shake your belief in yourself. So remember the words of these mentors.
No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
Sometimes in life, we take a leap of faith. Remember, the leap is not about getting from one side to the other. It’s simply about taking the leap…and trusting the air, the universal breath, will support your wings so that you may soar.”
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
Please take a moment to congratulate yourself for a change you’ve made in the comments below.
The repetition common in everyday lives, housework, and jobs can make us feel uncreative. Yet, humans have an inborn survival instinct to expect and solve problems. This makes each and everyone of us creative. We lose touch with our creativity when we “go through the motions.” But you can reconnect with your creativity. Here are twelve ways to spark your creativity.
1. Embrace the Mess
When you think your life is a mess (confession, that’s most the time for me) sit in the mess. Embrace the moment. Sifting through your things or thoughts can help you see things differently. Be open to a different way of thinking or a change in where you place things.
2. Reconnect to Your Body
Often when we’re stuck, we become physically stuck, too. Our body tenses. We take more shallow breaths. Reconnecting with our body will not only relax your body, but it relaxes your mind, too.
Take a breath in through your nose for the count of three. Exhale for a count of three. Repeat 5-10 times.
Tighten and relax muscle groups one at a time. For example, curl your toes. Hold the curl for the count of three, then relax them. Next, tighten your calf muscles for the count of three. Then relax your calves. Continue with your thighs, your buttocks, your stomach, and so on.
Connect with Feel
Feel the fabric of your clothes. Notice the smoothness or roughness. How do your fingertips feel? Compare that sensation to the feel of the surface upon which you are sitting or standing.
Notice the weight of your body, the temperature of the air.
Connect with Taste
Taste something sweet or something sour. Taste something new. What happens in your mouth, your stomach, your brain?
Connect with Scent
Sniff favorite scents. Try spices or fruits or perfumes. Does that smell remind you of something? How does it make you feel?
These exercises may feel awkward at first. That’s okay. It may take a while to reconnect with your body if you aren’t normally. Notice what’s happening. Where do you feel the awkwardness?
Remember, there’s no right or wrong in doing these exercises. As long as you connect with some or all of your body, you’re doing fine.
3. Stay Curious
Marvel at the world around you. If you don’t know the answer to a question, look it up. Follow the rabbit hole you find most fascinating. Ask more questions. Why does this one interest you? How could you use this in your daily life? How do you wish you could use it?
4. Change Your Perspective
One of the best ways to spark creativity in mundane moments is to change your perspective. Instead of seeing the task at hand as boring, try to approach it with a fresh perspective. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” or “How can I do this differently?” This shift in perspective can help you see things in a new light.
Stuck in traffic? Instead of getting frustrated, look at it as an opportunity. Pay attention to the people, buildings, and scenery around you. Perhaps you mix this with the color walk idea further down in this post. Or you look for absurdities.
Or take a different path, literally. If you always drive (or walk) home via the same route, take a different one. What do you see that is different? What do you want to see more of? Or not see? What would surprise you the most surprised?
5. Notice Color
Take a color walk (inside or out). Choose a color to notice. Even if you choose something that will be everywhere, notice the shades of green or blue on your walk. How many unique objects can you find that color — shoes, cars, houses, flowers, fences, scarves, etc. What would you think would never be that color? Can you find it? Focusing on color allows your subconscious to work on your problem. Sometimes, color sparks ideas that will excite you.
Repetition and mindless but necessary task can be boring. View those moments as opportunities to daydream. Let your mind wander. (Remember to stay safe while daydreaming!)
Allow your thoughts to meander. Let your subconscious make connections. Sometimes the break from “worrying” allows you to see a creative solution.
Or you could choose to “direct” your daydreams. Explore absurd or expensive or impossible solutions. Follow those ideas to the extreme. The creative solutions that pop into your head might surprise you.
7. Listen to Music
If you follow this blog, you know I listen to instrumental music as I work. Music is a powerful tool for sparking creativity. It can help you relax, focus, and get into the zone. Choose music that inspires you, energizes you, sets the mood, or otherwise gets your creative juices flowing.
If you are doing a repetitive task like folding laundry, put on some music that you can’t help but sing along. Or you can put on music and allow your mind to daydream about a scene to fit the music. Music can help make your mundane tasks more enjoyable and also spark your creativity.
8. Get up and Move
Take a walk outside. Your mother was right. You need fresh air and sunshine. Even once around the block will give you a break.
If the weather isn’t favorable, try a brisk walk around the house, on the treadmill, or up and down the stairs. Turn on your favorite dance music and move. Moving often is critical for maintaining good health.
The air, the weather, and the act of moving all act to lower your blood pressure and relax you. That may be all your creativity needs as a (maybe literal) jump start.
9. Create a Ritual
A ritual is a habitual observance or action(s) that is repeated. A ritual done every day, or every time you wish to be creative, helps signal your brain that this is the time to be creative. It elevates creativity as something important to you. After a time, you may find you don’t need the ritual any longer. Or you may choose to continue your ritual as a way of easing from your mundane world to your creative one.
Your ritual can be as simple as listening to the same music on a loop or lighting the same candle each time you sit down to create.
The following can be components of your ritual. Try to include the first three at a minimum. The rest you can use or not. Do what makes it feel like a powerful ritual to you.
Choose an Environment
What space will work best with your ritual? Your office? Garage? Kitchen? Studio? Be certain the space reflects the energy level you seek. Avoid distractions.
Set an Intention
How do you want to show up? What is the tone you’re trying to create? Example: For an energetic tone, you might choose to play music that makes you want to move. For wisdom or thoughtful tone, you might choose to burn a scented candle representing wisdom (sage or aged cedar or whatever represents wisdom to you).
Most of the day, we are only partly present. Doing dishes (and most other mundane tasks) our thoughts wander. Focus on your intent and your desired outcome of this ritual. Perhaps you chant something like, “I am open to new and creative ideas.”
We often take things for granted. Take this moment, this ritual time, to appreciate life, the world, others, and yourself.
Make space for thinking about why this ritual is important to you. What is it you aspire to? What about this makes you afraid? What does the success of this ritual look like to you at this moment?
Ritual is a way to connect to your aspirations. Who do you want to be? How do you want to serve others with this aspiration? What shift in yourself will help you do this?
Lift to Sacredness
Can you see this ritual as something sacred? Sacred doesn’t have to mean religious or holy. It means to consecrate or dedicate. It’s something that you are giving power.
Close in Gratitude
Give thanks for what the ritual gives you. Express gratitude for all the parts, for you showing up to do the ritual, to those in your life willing to make space for you, and to the world.
10. Sleep & Dream
Get more sleep. Before you go to sleep, ask your dream self to solve a problem or answer your question. When you wake, jot down everything and anything you remember from your dreams. Or write a paragraph about your problem or question immediately after rising, before you do anything else. Sometimes our subconscious works better when we aren’t thinking about the problem.
Have you used any of these methods to spark creativity? Please share a method that works for you.
11. Collaborate with Others
You’ve probably seen a post on social media where someone asks “the hive mind” a question. You can do that too. Ask for creative solutions to the problem you’re facing. Or if you are stuck on a project at work, reach out to a colleague and see if they can help you brainstorm some ideas. It might be a single conversation or many conversations.
Or you may choose to work on your project as a team. Working with others can help you come up with a solution that you might not have thought of on your own. Or again, it can trigger an idea of yours that you would not have thought of without the clue from someone else.
12. Embrace Imperfection
Perfectionism can kill creativity. Allow yourself to take risks and make mistakes. You never know when a mistake or a risk will free up your creativity.
Try setting a timer for ten minutes and allow yourself to create without judgment. Don’t worry about making mistakes or getting it perfect. Just create and see what comes out.
All It Takes is a Spark
You don’t have to try all these methods. But you don’t have to feel stuck or uncreative, either. Try one method at a time until you find what works for you.
The life of a writer can be unpredictable. Family, medical issues, housing issues, and many more personal-life interruptions can disrupt the flow of words. Many of you may not have options and write when and where you can write. For example, right now I’m writing in the waiting room of a car maintenance shop. The environment here is nice, but definitely full of distractions.
When we can choose our writing environment, it makes sense to choose a space that optimizes how we write. Keep in mind that not all of us will respond in the same way to the same physical space. In the list of elements I offer below, choose the ones that speak to you, that feel more creative to you.
The theory that people are right-brained (creative, intuitive) or left-brained (logical or linear) or both is a popular myth unsupported by neuroscience. The brain’s right and left hemispheres are not separate organs. While the right-hemisphere performs more complex functions, and the left hemisphere controls most (if not all) physiological functions, the two hemispheres work together.
While the right- versus left-brain theory is a myth, it’s an easy way to understand how people think. At the extremes, a few of us are nearly 100% logical-thinkers and a few are almost 100% creative-thinkers. A few of us fall into the moves fluidly between the two. In a reality, we are all a mix of the two. Many of us continue to perceive one or the other thinking style is our primary way of perceiving the world. We’re not wrong, but it’s more complex than which hemisphere controls what. Still, we can use brain science and psychology to help us set up a work environment that supports our creativity.
Environmental psychology is the study of how our physical surroundings influence us. One of the newer sciences, it came into existence in the 1970s.
Our mental space stands in direct proportion to our perception of physical space.“
In other words, our physical space affects us both as it actually exists and our intuitive interpretation of that space. The more we perceive a space to be open, the more we are open to new ideas.
The height of your ceilings affects your perception of openness. Tall, vaulted ceilings give us a sense of openness. Things that draw our eye to the height like pendant lamps or images enhance our sense of openness.
Most of us cannot do anything about the height of our ceilings. We can increase our perception of space by focusing on lateral space.
Artwork of landscapes or faraway places can give us a sense of space. A window or a doorway with a view of the outside makes a space “feel” open. Furniture placement and a lack of clutter also affect our interpretation of the lateral space that surrounds us.
Some will say that they do better in cluttered spaces. That may be true for specific individuals. Maybe you would feel more creative with an uncluttered and more open environment. Try it. If it doesn’t work, clutter is easy to accumulate.
Humans are compassionate beings. We see someone or something suffer and we want to help them feel better. This is especially true when the sufferer is a family member or close friend. When what we do doesn’t measure up to our hopes and expectations, disappointment can morph into debilitating self-criticism. If we don’t treat ourselves with grace, with self-compassion, our negative thoughts may spiral into depression or other mental health issues. Build your self-compassion toolbox and use it. You’ll not only feel better and perform better—you’ll be more resilient the next time you don’t do as well as you’d hoped.
How Compassion and Self-Compassion Differ
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.“
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, compassion is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress, together with a desire to alleviate it.
Compassion is not an automatic response, though it may feel that way for some. It requires awareness, concern, and empathy. It requires you recognize a serious, unjust and relatable situation.
We give hugs, kiss a skinned knee to make it feel better, and offer advice. We sympathize with the other person’s pain, whether it is physical or emotional.
In psychology, self-compassion is self-kindness without judgment. It is understanding common humanity versus isolation and practicing mindfulness rather than over identification. You forgive and nurture yourself as you would your child, parent, or significant other when they struggle.
Benefits of Self-Compassion
Compassion is vitally important to life. Without self-compassion, you may see your faults and inadequacies in such a negative light that it erodes your confidence, self-esteem, and your happiness.
Forgiving and nurturing yourself can result in lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as improve your health, relationships, and your general sense of well-being. For a list of twenty benefits of compassion, read “The Power of Self-Compassion.”
Practicing self-compassion is like putting on your own oxygen mask in an airplane so you will be able to put an oxygen mask on your child. The good news is that you can learn compassion, even self-compassion.
Build Your Self-compassion Toolbox
You are juggling a lot. You may have a full-time job, a family, friends, pets, and living spaces to maintain. It’s hard to balance all your obligations of choice and responsibility. Accept that you will never be perfect. Acknowledge that you will drop the ball sometimes.
Don’t be perfect, be human.
Understand that being human means mistakes are part of life. Include a note in your toolbox that to be human is to be imperfect. Stop judging and punishing yourself. Be kind to yourself. Reframe your mistakes and imperfections as opportunities or strengths. Thomas Edison… you learned a way that doesn’t work and can move on to another way that might work better.
Evaluate your expectations.
We creatives often have unrealistic expectations. Completing that novel or painting this year may not be possible if you have to pack up the house and move. Look at all your life’s roles and set realistic goals. Give yourself permission to not do everything. Give yourself permission to fail and learn.
Give yourself grace.
I believe that grace is very much a tool. And not only a tool that we try to offer others, but also one that we offer ourselves. “
You’ve been beating yourself up for mistakes for how many years? Learning to forgive yourself for your past, move forward with extra kindness toward yourself will take time and lots of repetition. Give yourself the grace to change, to grow.
Make grace your personal mantra until you believe it.
I am worthy of forgiveness.
I am worth the commitment it takes to give myself grace.
I am worth the time to step away from everything to recharge.
My feelings and needs have value.
I will not explain or apologize over and over why I take this time or make this effort. I deserve it.
Being my best self will trickle down so I can be my best for the people that matter most to me.
Gratitude is restorative kindness. You’re human. Practice being grateful for the body that keeps you alive. Be grateful for the strengths that you have and the weaknesses that give you room to grow.
You’re a creative. There’s at least one skill, probably many more, that you do well. Recognize that. Be grateful for that. Take a few minutes every day to be grateful for one of those skills. If you can’t do that, be grateful for the hands or eyes, legs or senses that allow you to practice your craft.
Give Yourself Permission to Start Over
Recognize that you are human. Don’t fear failure, embrace it. It’s inevitable. When you feel you’ve failed, forgive yourself and keep moving forward. Realize that you’ll never be perfect, but because you’re constantly in the mindset of forgiving yourself, you don’t get stuck in the resilience-killing rut of self-contempt.”
Life is a series of moments. Those moments march forward, whether you are beating yourself up about how you messed up or you are staying in the moment. Give yourself permission to live moment to moment. Give yourself permission to start over, and over, and over.
When you make a mistake, when something goes wrong, recognize that it happened. Give yourself permission to start over. Take a deep breath and if your action or reaction hurt someone else, ask for forgiveness. If your action or reaction hurt you, forgive yourself.
Acknowledge Your Successes.
When you’re in a pattern of never giving yourself grace, you ignore your successes. Make it a habit to look at and see your successes. Make a success scrapbook. Display your most successful moments or products on your walls or shelves. Pat yourself on the back. You did that. You deserve praise.
Keep Your Tool(s) Handy
Starting out, giving yourself compassion or grace may feel awkward. But revel in being unstuck for the moment you give yourself that forgiveness and permission to move forward. In time, this process will get easier and easier. In time, you’ll feel better, stronger. You may only need to pull out your self-compassion toolbox in times of high stress. If you’re not there now, work toward it.
Everyone admires courage. Everyone wants to be courageous. Usually the courage we talk about, the courage we think about and yearn for, is movie courage. Courage in the face of extreme danger. It is an important type of courage, but there’s more than one kind of courage.
What is Courage?
Fear and courage are brothers.”
We can all agree that courage is about bravery and a certain amount of risk taking. But how do we define courage? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, courage is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
By that definition, there can be many types of courage. Here we will discuss ten types of courage: physical, every day, moral, spiritual, social, emotional, empathetic, disciplined, intellectual, and creative.
Physical courage is bravery at the risk of bodily harm or death. We romanticize this type of courage in superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman. It’s also the courage soldiers have at war. There have been many, many people in our world who have shown extraordinary physical courage. I’ll name Witold Pilecki and Malala Yousafzai as two with physical courage. It’s likely you know some who have never made the history books or news.
Everyday courage is about the grit and determination necessary to make tough calls about one’s self, life, and loved ones.
Examples include Stormé DeLaverie who dared to be herself no matter what. It also is a farmer working his field through rain and drought, the person who decides every day to get up and go through their day no matter what, and the child who, despite their fears, walks into a new classroom or situation. It also includes the tougher choices like end-of-life choices, or to walk away from a toxic relationship.
Moral courage means acting on one’s values in the face of potential or actual opposition and negative consequences.”
This expression of courage involves the risk of social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection. It also involves leadership.
Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks had the social and physical courage to challenge segregation. The Native Americans (and others) protesting at Standing Rock expressed social courage. Every person who comes out as LGBQT has social courage. Often introverts flex their social courage muscles in order to appear in public.
It takes a special courage, emotional courage, to be open to feeling the full spectrum of emotional experience, both positive and negative.“
We could classify this as an everyday courage. All of us should be emotionally courageous. But some of us hide behind one emotion and don’t have the courage to face more difficult emotions. It is also an extraordinary courage for people who struggle with or overcome mental health issues.
This is an everyday courage. Every. Single. Day. So many people choose to use this type of courage. I do. You do. Every. Single. Person.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
According to tepsa.org, intellectual courage is challenging old assumptions and acting to make changes based on new learnings, understandings, and insights gleaned from experience and/or educational research.
This is often the pursuit of truth. One of the most famous types of intellectual courage was Edward R. Murrow’s report exposing Joseph McCarthy as a racist.
You have creative courage when you are doing creative work despite your doubts and fears. It’s opening your mind to fresh approaches, new ideas, and acting on them. Anyone who is a creative who has grown in their talent or skills has used creative courage to get there. Creatives use creative courage every time you face a new project, every time you show someone your work.
More than One Kind of Courage
I hope this brief review of these ten different kinds of courage has helped you see how you and everyone around you use courage. Some are grand, exciting, acts on the world stage. Most acts of courage are quiet. We often label them as “small” because they are quiet. Now that you know there’s more than one kind of courage, don’t compare acts of courage. Honor your courage and the courage of others.