First Rules of Living a Creative Life – Forget Passion & Originality!

Elizabeth Gilbert

Let me start off by saying that we all get to live a creative life.  You have permission.   If you aren’t convinced, or have no idea what that even means, read my first post of this series, “Why I didn’t Create this Blog Just for You”.  Where did I get the audacity to make that first statement?  From Elizabeth Gilbert and her book, “Big Magic”.  Now, in this post, I am also going to give you permission to forget “following your passion” and “being original” when it comes to your creative endeavors.  Confused?  Yeah, I was too, but then it just made so much sense when she explained it.

Don’t Hang Your Every Move on Passion

The once sage and sound wisdom of “just follow your passion” deserves to be re-visited.  Before I even read Elizabeth’s take on this advice, I had already begun to question this advice myself.  I don’t think “follow your passion” is awful advice, I just think it’s been oversimplified.  Following your passion almost implies that 1) You know your passion ; and 2) If you follow it, it will take care of you.  For me, during a time when I was just delving into personal development, that advice scared and discouraged me.  Mostly because I had no idea what my passion was.  Since, I didn’t have a passion that absolute lit me on fire, I just didn’t do much.  I became a great consumer of goods and media — in other words, shopping, hanging out, television and movies.  Elizabeth says that this “follow your passion” advice can almost be “cruel” in some ways.  And I have to agree.  As she says, many people don’t know their passion, or have many passions, or are in the midst of exploring new passions.

Instead, she says, indulge in your curiosities.  Follow the impulse of your inquisitive thoughts and see what inspires you along that journey.  This may inevitably lead you to your passion, or another passion–or it may not.  But remaining curious is less daunting.  It’s an invitation versus a conquest.  Listen, if you know your passion, then you are likely already following it!  So keep going, by all means!  But for the rest of us just ask yourself what are you interested in?  Even just a little bit?  And start there.  That is the first baby step to leading a more creative life.

“Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing, unexpected places.  It may even eventually lead you to your passion…” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

My Curiosity and Personal Development

Personally, I never even really knew “personal development” was a thing.  Never occurred to me to read a book or go to a seminar to listen to somebody “inspire” or “motivate” or “grow” me.  I never even took a psychology course in university.  Why would I?  But, I have always been a curious person.  And this curiosity is exactly what lead me to my very first encounter with a life coach.  There was no specific problem or challenge in my life that was plaguing me.  I had heard about him from a really close and trusted friend who said she had a really incredible experience in one session.   I wasn’t even sure what to talk about in my first one-on-one meeting.  I didn’t really have a “problem” I was dealing with, per se.  Nothing that was keeping me up at night, anyway.  I was just curious to see if he could tell me something about myself that maybe I just never thought or considered.  It’s weird.  I wanted to get to know me a little a better, I guess, through somebody else’s eyes.  I didn’t expect anything.  He could have pulled out a crystal ball, or chanted to his spirit guides–for all I knew.  I was open and curious.  Where would he take me?  What questions would he ask?  Would I get some sort of “aha” moment and suddenly see things I had never seen before.  I didn’t even know what I wanted to see.  I just wanted to see if there was anything worth seeing!  It’s funny now that I think about it.  But that first encounter, lead to the next thing–which was a weekend seminar he was holding.  And after that weekend, I just picked up a book, then started watching some videos here and there, and then picked up another book.  It wasn’t for another year later that I attended another live seminar.  And by that time, I was already well on my way to discovering a whole new passion–and yes, a whole new way of looking at life!  Since then, personal development has become one of my many passions in life.

So take a load off of having to find that one passion, and then dedicating every waking moment to it.  You don’t need to quit your job, or sell everything and go all in so you get to live your passion 24/7.  Stoke your curiosities instead.  Find out what even mildly interests you.  And see what new places and projects these can bring about.  This commitment to remaining inquisitive is also a great mindset to deal with failure or setback.  If  we can even start to see our failures as simply “interesting” or “intriguing” to us, then the creative life can rarely disappoint or cause us pain.

“No shame, no despair–just a sense that it’s all very interesting.  Like : Isn’t it funny how sometimes things work and other times they don’t?  Sometimes I think that the difference between a tormented creative life and a tranquil creative life is nothing more than the difference between the word awful and the word interesting.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

“But I Am Not Original!”

Is that what is holding you back from dipping your toe into a more creative life?  Originality?  That whole “It’s been done.  Everything’s been done.  It’s been done and so well already!”  And you start to ask yourself, “Who am I to start creating with no talent, no original ideas, nothing new to offer?”  I adore what Elizabeth tells us about any angst we may have with having to be original.  Originality is over-rated because the truth is, most things are not original.  As Elizabeth puts it :

“Most things have already been done–but they have not yet been done by you…But once you put your own expression and passion behind an idea, that idea becomes yours.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

Instead of striving for originality, she says try authenticity instead.  Most real people just want to connect with other real people.  People are moved by authenticity because it takes real courage to do that.  And somehow gives the rest of us permission to be real too.  We can all relate to the vulnerability of speaking our own truth.  It strikes a chord because it reminds us that we are all human.  We are all connected in some way.  And we all want the same thing.  If we’re out there doing our “art” and living creatively–we are all out there just doing our best.

“Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart.  Share whatever you are driven to share.  If it’s authentic enough, believe me–it will feel original.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

The premise of this whole blog is based on talking about other people’s ideas!  One of the problems I struggled with before launching my blog was that I wrestled with this idea that I had to become my own self-made personal development guru–with my own “30-day program to salvation”, my own “schtick”, with cool little info-graphics, charts and worksheets.  There was much pressure to be original, that I didn’t start for almost 6 months since the idea entered my mind.    It wasn’t until I just started to get back to some key questions like : Why did I even indulged in all this personal development content?  What did I enjoy talking about? What enthused me about this space?  It was then that I just realize that I wanted to keep learning, growing, and experimenting.  That’s it.  I don’t want to invent my own technique or modality.  I don’t want to save anyone.  I don’t want to tell people what to do, or what they should do, or shouldn’t do.  I just want to make sure I don’t stop growing.  That’s it.  And so, this blog was born.  Nothing original, but very authentic, and always curious and open.

So now what?

So now you have permission to be more creative, explore your curiosities and don’t worry about being original!  I’d have to say that if you do find your passion along the way–then, the last piece of advice is to keep at it.  The good old ‘perseverance’ principle that any personal development advice worth anything will inevitably tout.  You may be tired of hearing it.  But even when it comes to your creative escapes–commitment and hardwork are the ingredients that really make your “art” feel worthwhile.  Rather than thinking of what I am creating as a means to an end (ie. for profit, adulation or recognition) how about just doing it for the expansion, the experience and pushing your limits?  Just to see “how good you can be”!  I think that’s pretty exhilarating!   Self-mastery is very rewarding.   It reminds of a great term that was coined by Michael Beckwith called “blissipline”.  Here is what he says : “…discipline eventually becomes what I call a ‘blissipline’ because it leads to playing our part with integrity, dignity, elegance, passion, and deep contentment…Think of how empowered you’ve felt on occasions when you haven’t given into the ‘I don’t feel like it’ syndrome and honored your commitment to yourself…The Combination of love for something with the willingness to do what it takes to practice it — discipline–results in freedom.”

How amazing is that?  So, what are your interests?  Anything that you are remove curious about that you want to explore?  If you have know your passion(s) how did you discover it/them?  What advice do you have for people looking to live more creatively?  Please share your thoughts and comments below.

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Patricia Bardowell delivers bite-sized inspiration to help you create the life you dream of. Click here to find out more about her Mission and Vision.