A 365 Day Exploration of What Inspires
One of my favorite books of recent memory is Stumbling on Happiness. Renowned Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert reveals the latest in scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience and several other fields with large words, to help you and I understand why we aren’t happy and what we can do to change it. Not from a think positive place, but a science experiment it has been proven place. One particular thought has really stuck with me from that book, that the best way to know if you will be happy doing something or moving somewhere is to ask someone who has already tried it. But we don’t. He writes:
“We don’t use this though, we don’t trust others advice, we instead rely on our imagination, and why? Because we don’t think we are the ‘average person’.
Because if you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people. Science has given us a lot of facts about the average person, and one of the most reliable of these facts is that the average person doesn’t see themselves as average….we don’t always see ourselves as superior, but we almost always see ourselves as unique. Even when we do precisely what others do, we tend to think that we’re doing it for unique reasons…. Our mythical belief in the variability of uniqueness of individuals is the main reason why we refuse to use others as surrogates. …What’s so ironic about this predicament is that the information we need to make accurate predictions of our emotional futures is right under our noses but we don’t seem to recognize its aroma. It doesn’t make sense to heed what people tell us when they communicate their beliefs about happiness, but it does make sense to observe how happy they are in different circumstances. Alas, we think of ourselves as unique entities, minds unlike any others, and thus we often reject the lessons that the emotional experience of others has to teach us.”
With that in mind, I thought about my own quest on my past birthday. I blogged about it. I wanted to rediscover how to fill my energy well and I did it by returning to past creative pursuits that I had enjoyed. Now, I want you to know, dear reader, I don’t think you are all professional artists of one stripe or another and I don’t want you to exit this page because you think this is a project on being an artist. It isn’t. It is a year long project to learn about being creative. All of mankind is creative. Making a meal is a creative project, planning your holidays and which hike, bike or boat cruise you’ll take. Problem solving at work and learning to get along with colleagues is a creative enterprise. We are all in need of being creative in our lives.
Accessing my creative spirit is like accessing my soul, my oneness with the universe. It is a place where I feel fluid, free and full of possibilities. Not empty, lost, and without hope. I’ve been touching that feeling often in the last year and I don’t like it one bit. Touching my creativity and living it, listening to it, acting on it, well that all seems essential this year. I’m ready for fun and laughter and the joy of digging into my work, relationships and free time with creativity.
With Daniel Gilbert and Stumbling on Happiness as my inspiration, why should I reinvent the wheel? The best way to discover the home of inspiration and thus release my creativity is to consult those great people who went before me who made a living being inspired. As he wrote “ It doesn’t make sense to heed what people tell us when they communicate their beliefs about happiness, but it does make sense to observe how happy they are in different circumstances” or for my purposes, how inspired and creative they are in different circumstances.
I’m going to be studying and mirroring some great creative people in the next year, and I will be blogging here about it, and posting resources for more information for you to check out. I’ll be following some great creative minds that I already admire and I will no doubt discover new ones. I’ll test drive their methods and let you know how effective it has been in my finding inspiration and my creative well spring.
This project has quickly become overwhelming in my mind so to make it manageable and keep the saboteur at bay (who keeps yelling at me that I’ll never manage to finish this) here are:
1. There are no hard and fast format rules. I have intentions, but to be creative is to be fluid. If a better idea comes on how to mine this field, I will follow it.
2. Energy = Success. I’m measuring the success of the inspirational creative practice around whether or not it gives me energy. Creativity in my mind should have spark, juice and forward motion.
3. Time line is flexible. I hope that each month will have it’s own artistic focus and a few leaders that I will be sourcing, but I’m already aware from my reading that one thing leads to another and one can be surprised where one ends up (rather like web searches) At the start of each month I’ll confirm the road for the next thirty days.
4. To prevent my over active researcher who is a completely insufferable over achiever and who will micro manage me into the ground I am limiting the research for this project to what I can get from the Greater Victoria Public Library system, what is already on my shelf or what is under 10 bucks in my local used bookstore.
5. There is no right answer. That isn’t creative. Whatever I find is useful and whatever gets done is illuminative one way or another. Everything is an opportunity for learning and that is the goal.
THE PLAN FOR 2012 IS:
The fields I’ll be hanging out with the muses are:
I’m going to be a good BC girl and I’m starting with painters and who better for me than Emily Carr. I’m reading Hundreds and Thousands and I will be journaling my month for you in succeeding posts.
Feel free to join in and read along, or send me suggestions of artists to include for upcoming months or share whatever is on your mind. I want to start a conversation. If science is right, we are all likely to be inspired by the same things. I can’t wait to find out if that’s true!