Three Ideas That Have Changed The Way I Think


1. Creativity Is Not What You Think It Is

If you are struggling to think of what to say, or how to say it, or of what to bake or how to dress, you probably need to stop worrying about being “original.” One of my favourite realisations last year was that stealing is okay, and that without it, there’d be no such thing as the “creative process.” I used to think “original” meant “never been done before.” Now I know it means “never been done in this way before.”

Austin Kleon, a young artist whom I have written about before, couldn’t think of anything to put into a short story. He sat in his home in Texas, dreaming of being an artist but his mind felt like blocked toilet. Then he took a copy of the New York Times, and with a marker, started to blot out the words he didn’t like. Before he knew it, he was choosing the words he blotted out very carefully. He had become a poet, and now his books “Newspaper Blackout” and “Steal Like An Artist” are bouncing off the bookshelves.

2. Encouragement Is A Gift

My mama is magic in a lot of ways. But one of her special powers is in her capacity to encourage. When I was young and scared she held me in her arms and said “Ich kann es und ich will es auch.” (I can do it and I want to do it too). So I learnt to swim and climb and jump and to take nearly everything that people told me with a pinch of salt. Encouragement works like a magic powder added to water. The second you release it, it moves through you, opening up, spreading out like a flower burst from a bud. It can change your life. And usually it’s only a few carefully-chosen words or a little smile away.

3. Too Many Choices Is A Bad Thing

What will I buy? What shall I wear? Who will I marry? Where will I go? What should I become? What should I write my novel about? We’re overwhelmed! Freedom is precious and good but too much choice can stifle us. Here is Barry Schwartz explaining it all:

What ideas have changed the way you think?

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9 thoughts on “Three Ideas That Have Changed The Way I Think

  1. Your Mama is lucky to have had such a responsive child! Thank you for the link:
    Barry Schwartz makes a lot of sense and is liberating. I certainly would go for the phone that does less which means fewer decisions and ultimately more happiness.

  2. Excellent inspiring piece. I enjoyed it alot as usual.
    1. I always thought creativity was something totally new. I am not creative in that way but I like to put in the best of everything I have seen to create something unusual. I am creative 🙂
    2.Being encouraging all the time is hard. I was trying to encourage myself today despite a rainy windy day, double my travelling time today, wet socks.Bought myself a walnut cake. I need that. I will endeavour to be more encouraging as well..
    3.Too many choices is a bad thing. I agree. Everytime faced with multiple choices, I am stumped as all options look good. I take a long time with decisions. Hence you are right. Just the right number of choices will make the decision making simpler. Will watch the video tonight.

    All in all, changing the way you think is important. It helps you to deal with the changes around you as well. Else you will be unhappy if you refuse to accept an alternative perspective. Or at least that’s what I think.

    • Thanks, Clariice! I thought the same until very recently and then I thought about what Austin Kleon, and others say about originality and it all made sense suddenly. It’s quite mathematical really .. permutations based on a kind of never-ending code. You’re right, you are creaive!

      I find it hard to encourage myself too. I love to encourage others though. It seems a lot easier.

      At the moment Im flitting between having way too many choices and having none. What should I do when my internship ends? trz to find any job in Berlin? Move country with LSB? I just don’t know!

      I agree, I think a shift in thinking is so liberating.

      • A friend once told me, go with the flow. If you are keen to stay in Berlin, explore the opportunities around. Or if both you and LSB are looking for a chance, look around for opportunities. Try – that’s the keyword. If you dont try, you wouldnt know. Sometimes the end result might not be what you expect but I think if you dont try, you wouldnt know.
        If you are looking somewhere within Europe, maybe Berlin was actually the first step. Or English speaking countries. Somewhere near home? London?;)
        Talk to people, ask from their experience. Maybe you might get more confused, maybe you might get some light? And just to remind you, by stepping out of your comfort zone, you have taken the first foot out:) Just step forward with the other foot with your mind.

        Permutations – I like that subject. It does seem an endless supply of possibilities. Encouraging others is so much easier, totally with you but sometimes we need to remember that we shouldnt take the easy way out;) (i.e. me doing just that :p)
        PS: I feel like an old grandmother with this lengthy comment. Hope it hasnt confused you even further;)

  3. I loved your story about your Mama giving you lots of encouragement. My little boy is only 4yrs old and I say the same thing to him. Now when he finds something difficult he says out loud ‘this is tricky but I can do it’.

    • Aw, what a nice phrase! I think that a few words of encouragement can rapidly alter our brain chemistry – suddenly a flash of self-belief floods us and we can imagine success, which is the biggest step towards achieving it. Your little boy is lucky to hear such nice words from his mama.

  4. I really loved your list! I admit I have had that inner fight with myself about creativity and the process of writing. Especially when it comes to blogging. It’s so easy to fall into the trap that whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m saying, or thinking has surely all been done before.

    The thing that has started getting me over the self-doubt hump is the fact that I have to remember to write for myself, first. At the very least, it helps me get my own thoughts on a topic better sorted in my mind.

    You’re very lucky to have such a wonderful, encouraging mother! I’m glad to say I have a pretty great mom, too. Her saying has always been, “This, too, shall pass.”

    It was comforting when things were bad, but it also served as a reminder to really live in the moment and savor life when it’s going well.

    Anyway, I followed your blog and thought I’d say, “Hi!” Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post. 🙂

    • Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment. I think your mother’s phrase is really apt. One of my father’s is: “Nothing much matters, and nothing matters much.” At first, it might seem fatalistic and discouraging, but the way I interpret it is “Nothing much can go wrong, and what does go wrong, doesn’t matter much.”

      I go through exactly the same doubts with my writing. The more you think about it, the more you realise how much of what you say has been said before. I try to remind myself that it is the things you choose to say, original or not, that matter. We are at the very least, creative in what we choose to copy, whether it’s a style, a turn of phrase or a plot.. And who knows, maybe there’s someone out there, who would want to copy, or to express it more kindly, “be inspired” by our words.

      I can’t out into words how lucky I am to have my mum.

      Looking forward to checking out your writing too. Thanks for popping by! 🙂

  5. Pingback: The Courage to Create « Janyaa's Scrapbook

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